Yorkville, Toronto: The Neighborhood That First Inspired David Crighton

by David Crighton August 22, 2018

Yorkville, Toronto: The Neighborhood That First Inspired David Crighton

This is the story before the story. The prequel.

The drawing that I consider to be the one that "started it all" is of a building in Yorkville. What I didn't know then, was that York had a rich and controversial history. I know now that it was the Canadian neighbourhood of its time. 

It was legendary. A bohemian underground culture was ignited in the 60s and for Canada it centred in Yorkvilled. Emerging artists such as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young started playing in coffeehouses such as the Riverboat... they were cool, they were hip...rad...outasight. Legends such as Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot  were bumping elbows with writers and free thinkers of the era. 

It was groovy. It was THE scene. Everyone wanted to catch the vibe. The Village had established itself as the counter culture hangout, anti-war politics were discussed, free thinking defined youths as individuals with a voice. Anti-establishment discussions were spoken between live performances and strong cups of coffee. "The Man" was everything that was wrong with the world.

For the first time in history you were defined by your choices in music, poetry and art. This was a cultural revolution. At this time, Andy Warhol was creating experimental films and defining Pop Art. It may have started with the HIppie Movement but by the 70s it had become a 24 hour a day happening.  

The prolific drug culture made it far-out and psychedelic. McLuhan emerged. LCD was touted as mind expanding by cultural prophets such as Timothy Leary. It was only in 1962 that hallucinogenic drugs were made illegal in Canada. cannabis was controversial...and everywhere. Needless to say, some pretty trippy times took place. 

Yorkville 70s Toronto
Hippies traveled with nothing more than a duffle bag of clothes and a guitar on their backs. Those who didn't play had a handful of LPs under their arm. You were set if you had enough "bread" to eat at the nearest greasy spoon.
Yorkville 70s Toronto
Crashing at someone's pad was expected. Just hangin' was the preferred answer to everything.
Penny Farthing Yorkville Toronto 70s
The Penny Farthing not only boasted Joni Mitchel's first performances of original songs but a swimming pool and a deck inside the coffeehouse. You could take a dip at the Penny while making the scene. 
Yorkville 70s Toroonto
There were folk singers and there were early rock stars like David Clayton Thomas. Leonard Cohen was reading poetry. CHUM was the station exposing new talent.
Joni Mitchel Yorkville Toronto
Folk rock bands were fluid with band names and members meshing to reinvest new sounds. Who can fill in the blanks on the Flying Circus?
Yorkville 70s Toroonto
It's fair to mention too the advent of Rochdale on nearby Bloor Street. University of Toronto opened Rochdale as an "experiment in counter culture education" in 1968. Whatever the plan, it became the largest and most talked about hub of drug sharing for out generation. Understand that even having long hair, was considered rebellious. Many families raged living room-war over haircuts, ripped jeans and loud music. A far sight from today, Yorkville or the “Village” had no swanky hotels, no franchises, no jewellery stores, unless you count a bead shop with a peace sign on the window.  It did, however, have some glorious architecture.  One of my most memorable days took place on Yorkville Avenue in 1972.  Tune in for that and more stories to come...

Be the first to know about sales, new products and new artwork and get free shipping.  Sign up for our newsletter!

David Crighton Newsletter





David Crighton
David Crighton

Author



Also in Blog

David Crighton’s First Illustration of Toronto
David Crighton’s First Illustration of Toronto

by David Crighton September 10, 2018

The assignment of the day was to get the heck out of the school and go draw something! Who knew this would be the birth of a 40 plus year career of illustrating Toronto architecture?

View full article →

The School Assignment That Launched A Toronto Artist
The School Assignment That Launched A Toronto Artist

by David Crighton August 29, 2018

This story is about my path as a Toronto artist, but also the running thread in the blog is about my life as an illustrator.An underlying theme here is the idea that anyone has the ability to carve out a wonderful career by staying the course and becoming really good at one thing.

View full article →

Show Off Your Love of Toronto
Show Off Your Love of Toronto

by Pam Johnston August 16, 2018

Whether you’re a seasoned Torontonian or a tourist passing through, there are millions of reasons to love Toronto. So what better way to show off that love than with David Crighton’s illustrated artwork? For over 40 years, David has been charming the visual hearts of Torontonians and tourists alike.

View full article →