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Lost Tunes

As Record Store Day approaches, a look at some of Toronto's past music merchants.

Toronto’s history with record stores runs deep. Yonge Street, especially during the 1980s, typified the diversity of the city’s music shops, from giants like A&A and Sam the Record Man to assorted general, specialist or used stores filled with racks of vinyl. Across the rest of the city, music lovers could shop at chain outlets or smaller stores. Though rising rents and technology shifts have shuttered industry giants and neighbourhood nooks alike, memories of where we assembled our music collections live on.

In honour of tomorrow’s Record Store Day, the gallery, above, has some information about a few of the stores that once allowed Torontonians to spend hours sifting through rows of vinyl, cassettes, and even, eventually, digital discoveries.


  • Anonymous

    What’s going on with the Sam’s sign? I heard Ryerson backed out of their agreement (again?) to hoist the sign on the new building.

  • Matt Madill

    Front and center in photo #1 is a bit of auto history… it’s from the short period where the French automakers actually sold their wares here. Even rarer than just being a French car in North America, that particular model is a very odd design that never sold well – it is a Citroen SM, one of only 2,400 sold in North America.

  • Davidf

    How simultaneously nice…and depressing.
    Edward’s, at Yonge and Eglinton, was also a great spot until not so very long ago…

  • therandomdialer888

    That ‘City Nights’ billboard is what Astral’s podiums should have looked like. Human-proportioned, subtle design that melds with it’s surroundings, packed with info, and NOT on major thoroughfares.

  • Carricks_cat

    Ah, good ol’ Sam Sniderman. You know, the guy who, by total happenstance, happened to be the largest secured debt holder of Sam the Record Man when it went tits up…

    Nice memories of record stores, though, back when music was art, from the album cover to the lyric sheet to the actual music. Now I have to go to Vortex to get someone who knows anything about the music at all. Elsewhere we are served by idiots who can tell you who Kim Karsashian is dating this week, but can’t tell you who played guitar on that Stanley Jordan album from 1977.

    • Jacob

      Who is Stanley Jordan?

  • chris_in_space

    Don’t forget about these other gems that didn’t get a mention in this article: The great Backbeat records on Dundas West, Driftwood on Queen, The Jazz and Blues Centre on Dundas next to the Imperial, Ric Collectibles on Main. I miss them all.

    • therandomdialer888

      Ric is still active, but they’ve moved to Queen and Carlaw.

  • Brutus

    Vinyl still lives at Rotate This on Queen West.Guys are from the old Record Peddler. Also Sonic Boom on Bathurst just south of Bloor. Both stores have new vinyl and the inmates are know their stuff. Record Store day is tomorrow!

  • Tim

    Tim Cooper – Peter Dunn’s Museum was the best. In the 60′s I bought a case of his Record Cleaner. I am on my last bottle. Does anyone have more. It really Works. I am listening to War Gypsey Man right now.