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culture

Historicist: Sounds of Home II

After-hours clubs and the West Indian music scene of the 1960s.

Toronto Star (November 25, 1961)

Toronto Star (November 25, 1961)

“Maybe it’s the snow, but your Christmas is dull, dull, dull,” a West Indian woman who’d immigrated as a domestic worker told a newspaper reporter in 1961. As she and other interviewees described the traditions of home—masquerade parties, or steel drummers, ukulele players, and carolers parading from village to village—music was an essential part of holiday celebrations stretching from December 20 to New Year’s Day. The holidays were tamer in staid 1960s Toronto, however, where restaurants and nightclubs closed early. The city’s ethnic clubs, like the Little Trinidad, where there was a floor show and dancing until 3 a.m. on New Year’s Eve in 1961, were the places to go for a boisterous night out in Toronto during the holiday season, and all year round.

In the 1950s, while the mainstream population swooned over the exoticism of calypso and other Caribbean music, Toronto’s small black and West Indian communities placed great importance on music as a means of transporting the culture of home to a new Canadian setting through a variety of special events. As the population was boosted by the loosening of immigration restrictions over the course of the 1960s, a number of after-hours clubs emerged playing all styles of Caribbean music and often catering to a predominantly black and West Indian clientele, which gave rise to a burgeoning live music scene for West Indian musicians.

Toronto Star (June 24, 1961)

Toronto Star (June 24, 1961)

In 1960, in the wake of European-style coffee houses that had emerged first in Gerrard Village and then in Yorkville, Toronto saw an explosion in the number of after-hours clubs as an alternative to the traditional, sophisticated nightclubs and dancehalls. These music-oriented establishments weren’t licensed to serve alcohol but, as private members-only clubs, they opened no earlier than 9 or 10 p.m. from Wednesdays to Sundays. And, unlike licensed halls that had to shut down before midnight, the live entertainment at after-hours clubs carried on until 3 or 4 a.m.

2013 12 14 StarJune20 1960 297 CalypsoClubOpens

As the number of after-hours spots increased—from a handful in 1960 to more than 20 by June 1961, so too did the variety. Some, like the House of Hambourg and the First Floor Club, were jazz-oriented; others, like the Bohemian Embassy, the Purple Onion, and the Village Corner, made Toronto a premiere folk music centre in North America. At a handful, calypso music was the prime attraction.

(Right: Toronto Star [June 20, 1960])

“Toronto’s first calypso club opened over the week-end with more than 150 devotees of Caribbean music squeezed into a tiny room,” Morris Duff reported in the Star on June 20, 1960. “Scantily clad waitresses, attired in tropic costumes, eased among the patrons, carrying out soft drinks.” The thumping opening-night party at the Calypso Club (248 Yonge Street), on the second floor above a men’s clothier south of Dundas Street, featured folk and calypso singers, and West Indian dancing, including the limbo.

The Calypso Club was owned by Harold Wintraub, a former tailor, and his business partner Eric Vernon (Tiger) Armstrong Jr., a Jamaican-born calypso singer who performed under the name Lord Power with a distinctive set of conga drums painted with zebra stripes. Armstrong, Duff reported, had “dreamed of having his neighbors meet pure West Indian music.”

Toronto Star (May 26, 1961)

Toronto Star (May 26, 1961)

With his brother Everald, Armstrong had immigrated to Nova Scotia from Kingston in the 1940s, and quickly volunteered for service in the Canadian Forces during the Second World War, thereby becoming eligible for landed immigrant status. Moving to Toronto after the war, Armstrong worked as a typographer at the Telegram for years, but supplemented his income as a weightlifting instructor, professional wrestler, and, eventually, a horse-trainer.

“I’ve never stayed exclusively in the West Indian community here,” Armstrong later explained to a reporter, hinting at how he hooked up with Wintraub. “I like a mix. So I’ve had a lot of contact with ethnic groups like the Jewish community.”

2013 12 14 StarNovember15 1960 155 CalypsoClub Tropitones

Like other after-hours clubs, the Calypso Club charged an annual membership fee ranging between 50 cents to $1.50, then a similar amount as admission fee on each visit. In addition to offering a place to go after theatres and dining rooms closed, the appeal of clubs was this combination of live entertainment and discount prices. “Where can you go in Toronto for a buck and a half and have so much fun?” one Calypso Club patron exclaimed to a reporter.

(Right: Toronto Star [November 15, 1960])

While most after-hours owners operated their clubs on the cheap, with bare-bones food offerings, and second-hand furnishings and posters as decor, the owners of the Calypso Club were among a number with grander ambitions to replicate the nightclub experience at a price of admission for those who couldn’t afford flossy nightclubs.

Journalists like Gerry Barker raved that the club’s “churning West Indian rhythm [enticed] even the rankest amateur to take a turn on the jammed minute dance floor.” By its first anniversary, the Calypso Club had a membership of more than 8,000. And with only a capacity of 150, on busy Saturday nights, Wintraub had to turn away dozens of guests at the door. Reporters made relatively frequent excursions into the after-hours nightlife as fodder for their columns, but never clearly articulated a demographic breakdown of the Calypso Club’s clientele. However it’s suggested that, generally speaking, after-hours clubs attracted people from all walks of life, ranging from tycoons to railway porters to students.

2013 12 14 StarMarch25 1961a 221 CalypsoClub

The Calypso Club seems to have struggled at times to strike a balance between “striving to promote understanding of the West Indies,” as one advertisement claimed, and profiting off the exoticism of the Caribbean. “Why does EVERYONE go native and have such a ball at Canada’s First ‘Calypso’ Club?” another newspaper ad pondered. “We don’t know but we’re mighty proud of its success!”

(Left: Toronto Star [March 25, 1961])

Trinidad-born steel drummer Selwyn “Sello” Gomes led the Tropitones as house band for a time—filling out its membership with Trinidadian students—but the duties were eventually taken over by Kalypso Kews, who’d become a popular nightclub act in the preceding 18 months, but were far from an authentic West Indian band. The Kews had been formed in Toronto by Will Millar, who’d immigrated from Northern Ireland a few years earlier, with a few of his British-Isles-originated friends. Millar seemed to take calypso seriously as an art because, in 1962, he spent four months touring Trinidad and Tobago with some local performers. But on his return to Canada, he moved to Calgary, where he formed the Irish Rovers.

2013 12 14 StarDecember14 1960 289 LordPower CaribbeanClub

In the wake of the Calypso Club’s success came other West Indian after-hours establishments: the Caribbean Club, the Little Trinidad Club, and the Port of Spain. These venues proved reasonably resilient compared to their folk and jazz competition—which opened, then quickly closed with remarkable frequency. “In short,” wrote one Star commentator, who argued in December 1961 that the supply of after-hours clubs exceeded the demand, “the town is flooded with a sufficient variety of outlets to satisfy the whims of night owls and curiosity seekers and one should think thrice before saying ‘let’s start a new club.’”

(Right: Toronto Star [December 14, 1960])

The Caribbean Club (also known as The Carib) opened at 314 Yonge Street in the autumn of 1960, but soon relocated to larger premises at 51 Dundas Street West. On a visit in November 1961, Jeff Henry, a Trinidad-born university student and member of the Little Carib Dancers, explained to a reporter that the club’s music had “a strong Jamaican flavor.” While he liked the banana punch, Henry took strong exception to the decor that he declared projected “a stereotyped image.” This club seems to have struggled for business in 1961 and 1962, but it’s unclear when it closed. Justin de Santos, a Guyana-born railway express employee and artist referred to as the head of the Caribbean Club, later mentioned having “really lost my shirt” on an after-hours venture.

2013 12 14 StarDecember29 1961 288 LittleTrinidad

The Little Trinidad Club (237 Yonge Street) was opened by several West Indian students from the University of Toronto in 1961. As the number of students from the Caribbean attending Toronto colleges increased, they established informal clubs, hosted on- and off-campus parties, staged talent contests, and formed bands as a means of seeking camaraderie. Opening an after-hours club was a logical next step.

(Left: Toronto Star [December 29, 1961])

“[T]he dance floor was crowded and a steel band was playing,” journalist Wendy Michener wrote of a visit in November 1961. “This dimly lit club has less of the commercial gloss, no menu, but compensates with a good quality band made up of West Indian students, and an informal atmosphere. It has a marked West Indian patronage.”

2013 12 14 StarAugust31 1961a 201 LittleTrinidad

The Little Trinidad’s offerings were bare bones compared to the Calypso Club, its more affluent predecessor—serving sandwiches instead of meals, with a pared-down floor show in a poorly laid out venue. “Yet it has friendly and enthusiastic atmosphere that appeals,” a Star review concluded.

(Right: Toronto Star [August 31, 1961])

The house band was initially Los Trinidados, a steel band quartet from Port of Spain led by Mike Mahon (which led to the club sometimes being mistakenly referred to as the Los Trinidados Club). Over its seven or so years in operation, the Little Trinidad featured a wide assortment of performers, with Sello Gomes—”King of the Marimba” and “Mr. Versatility”—eventually taking over as the house performer. The Tropic Knights, led by Charles Roach, who’d come to Toronto from Trinidad in 1955 to study law, were also Little Trinidad regulars.

2013 12 14 StarFebruary9 1962b 219 PortOfSpain Tropitones

By the time the city’s fourth calypso nightclub, the Port of Spain, opened on the third floor at 47 Laplante Avenue in late 1961, the Star‘s Wendy Michener declared that “Toronto is now revelling in an advanced case of calypsiosis.” Located one block west of Bay, just south of College, the Port of Spain featured The Original Tropitones steelband—”Toronto’s most exciting group,” one ad proclaimed—as the house band.

(Left: Toronto Star [February 9, 1962])

With a budget of $8,000, owner (and musician) Eddy Edgehill installed 12 speakers, disguised the pillars as palm trees, and decorated the interior with street signs and lampposts from Trinidad, and had murals painted on the walls.

The Port of Spain’s house band, led by Claude Durham, played under a bamboo tent. Jeff Henry, the student and dancer who toured the after-hours scene in November 1961, praised the club’s authentic atmosphere and music. “I haven’t tasted any since I left the West Indies,” Henry noted of the club’s inclusion of “soursap,” a Trinidadian fruit drink, on its menu. “The waitress is dancing,” Henry added, “that’s very authentic. Back home the waitresses always dance and you can never get service.” Despite the authentic atmosphere, management had spent more money on decor than on advertising, and the club was never packed when journalists stopped by.

2013 12 14 StarJune17 1961 142 AfterHoursCrackdown

The Caribbean-themed clubs, like other after-hours clubs, received regular visits from members of the Metro Toronto Police’s morality division trying to exert a measure of control. “One officer explained that any late night operation tends to attract drug pushers, procurers and prostitutes. Frequent raids have resulted in arrests for illegal possession of drugs and liquor,” the Globe and Mail reported. Moreover, municipal officials blamed nightspots, and jazz clubs specifically, for a “a general lowering of morality” and an apparent rise in drug addiction among young women. “The after-hours clubs, the jazz clubs, the coffee clubs—call them what you want—are to blame,” Inspector Herbert Thurston complained to journalists. “Just take a look at conditions there any night. These are the types of places where you find poor lighting and poor supervision.”

(Right: Toronto Star [June 17, 1961])

The Caribbean Club and the Calypso Club were among four venues raided by police in June 1961, all of their patrons searched for drugs and illegal sweepstakes tickets. Municipal officials had decided that after-hours clubs ought to require public halls licences. For years, by operating as private members-only clubs and by not serving alcohol, the after-hours venues had skirted the legalities of requiring a public halls licence. Now, however, officials argued that the clubs were not discriminating enough in their membership—even though the clubs claimed to conduct employment and reference checks on all prospective members. Officials explained that they’d targeted these establishments in particular because, unlike jazz clubs, they encouraged patrons to dance.

Toronto Star (June 24, 1961)

Toronto Star (June 24, 1961)

“I can’t understand why the police picked on me,” Wintraub complained. “I run a legitimate operation and, in fact, have several policemen who are members. Before opening the club last June, I checked with municipal and police authorities to find out what licenses were needed. I was told at the time that I wouldn’t need a public halls license because I would be operating a private club.”

The clubs were charged with operating as public halls without licences. In mid-June, the Caribbean and Calypso clubs were found guilty in magistrates’ court and fined $100—setting a precedent that opened all after-hours clubs to legal action if they didn’t hold a public halls licence (and holding such a licence would mean no longer staying open beyond midnight). Operating on razor-thin margins, most clubs couldn’t afford court costs to fight a summons for licensing violations every couple of months. To many, the actions of police and municipal authorities appeared to be an effort to drive the popular nightspots out of business. And increasing police harassment prompted some after-hours club owners to call for the formation of an industry association.

2013 12 14 StarJune29 1961 375 CalypsoClub

“Our popularity certainly shows that the public is in favor of after-midnight clubs,” Wintraub told reporters, as his lawyer filed an appeal of the conviction. The issue faded from the headlines, and municipal officials moved on to trying to prevent the opening of new establishments, rather than trying to shut down existing clubs. Through it all, the West Indian clubs continued to flourish.

(Right: Toronto Star [June 29, 1961])

Despite the Calypso Club’s overwhelming popularity, Wintraub recognized that its tiny Yonge Street location could be nothing more than a marginal enterprise, and invested $30,000 in securing and renovating new premises at 32 Front Street West in the summer of 1961. This put them, journalist Gerry Barker noted, at the forefront of a trend of after-hours venues evolving “from small crowded, dingy rooms financed with limited capital to big flossy establishments that equal night clubs in everything but the availability of liquor.”

2013 12 14 StarDecember2 1961 238 CalypsoClub

The lush new digs had more than double the seating capacity, air conditioning and adjacent indoor parking for customers, a bamboo hut bandstand and a 12-speaker sound system, and included a proper restaurant kitchen, allowing an expanded menu of West Indian specialties, steak, and Chinese cuisine. A feature wall near the plush-carpeted entrance was decorated with a 34-foot mural.

(Left: Toronto Star [December 2, 1964])

The floor show and entertainment remained much as it had been, featuring new live musical acts and dancers every two weeks. Limbo dancers were regularly joined by audience members in limbo contests. “Very loud band with bandsmen playing and singing simultaneously: Shake! Shake! Shake! they sing. Shake It All the Time! Audience shakes it all the time,” Pierre Berton noted humourously of a visit to the packed club in March 1962. “Floor show includes fire eater who dances cha-cha while attempting to turn himself into human torch. Cool man. Limbo display follows; reminds me of army P.T.”

By now opening at 6 p.m. for non-members to dine—before reverting to a private-members dance club at 9 p.m.—Wintraub tried to capture more of the evening theatre crowd. But the club’s overhead expenses proved too great for the club to consistently turn a profit. By early 1964, the Calypso Club was closed and the premises converted to other commercial purposes.

2013 12 14 StarMarch17 1965a 365 Gairey WIF

The West Indies Federation (WIF) Club opened as an entertainment and eating establishment on Brunswick Street, near College Street, in about 1961. Although the WIF Club regularly hosted music and dances on Saturday nights—eventually even securing a liquor licence—and has been characterized as an early Jamaican-owned nightclub, it seems more like a community hub than an after-hours venue. The club’s founders—Harry Gairey, Kermit Lynn, Jim Moxley, and Clarence Lucey—provided help to West Indian immigrants of all backgrounds, helping clear the hurdles of the immigration process, recommending employment agencies or boarding houses, or even just offering an outlet for socializing for those “who didn’t have anyone or know anyone.”

(Left: Toronto Star [March 17, 1965])

“Negroes feel at home here—they make friends,” the Jamaican-born Gairey said of the WIF Club in 1966.

In the kitchen, volunteers made—and taught others to make—West Indian specialties. The clientele was decidedly West Indian, so the dishes could be spicier than at the Calypso Club, where the level of seasoning had to appeal to mainstream Canadian tastes. “They don’t know how to act sometimes,” Lucey said of white people who walked in to the club to discover they were in the minority.

Even though the WIF Club had 1,800 members by 1966, it wasn’t particularly profitable. It did, however, earn enough to pay the rent and wages for some staff—even if, Gairey said, that meant “sometimes the owners didn’t get anything.” The WIF Club, located in a 150-year old building, burned down in 1967.

2013 12 14 Variety March17 1963 339 LittleTrinidad MalcolmX

If the after-hours clubs lacked the overt settlement services function the WIF provided, they still provided opportunities for social activism. Over the years, the Little Trinidad Club hosted numerous benefit fundraisers for Caribbean victims of hurricanes, and Malcolm X’s widow and family after the activist’s assassination. In March 1965, a who’s who of the city’s Caribbean music scene—Sello Gomes, the Debonairs, Dave Martins and his Tropicanas, Charlie Roach and the Tropic Knights, and Joe Brown and his Steel Band, among others—took part in a benefit for the widow and family of Albert Agostinelli, a Toronto musician killed in an automobile accident.

(Right: Variety [March 17, 1963])

There are also indications that the bars and after-hours clubs most frequented by West Indians became forums for intently discussing current affairs and government policy at home and abroad. And, at least one, Club Tropics (12 Queen East), was the site in 1968 of the formation of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Toronto [PDF], one of a growing number of country-specific community organizations.

Naturally, the operators of West Indian clubs came to be seen as spokespeople for their communities. When the Globe and Mail sought local reaction to the easing of immigration restrictions in 1962, they consulted de Santos, of the Caribbean Club, and Ron Delmas, a dentistry student at U of T and one of the operators of the Little Trinidad Club. After Roach, who was also involved in the management of the latter club, was called to the bar in 1963, he would become prominent civil rights activist and lawyer—earning a reputation for his willingness to take on undesirable cases and his refusal to swear fealty to the crown.

2013 12 14 StarMay2 1964 288 BrassRail

Other West Indian clubs emerged downtown in the late 1960s and 1970s, including the Caribana Club, We Place, Club Trinidad, the Bermuda Tavern, the Latin Quarter Club, and Club Tropics. Other folk and rock venues, like the Nite Owl Coffee House, the Famous Door Tavern, Le Coq D’Or, and the Brass Rail, featured occasional West Indian-themed nights, as did traditional dance halls and hotel lounges. The emergence of these venues gave rise to a burgeoning live music scene, and a club circuit for local Caribbean performers—although they usually had to play a healthy dose of American R&B and soul to suit audience tastes.

(Left: Toronto Star [May 2, 1964])

Lord Power and his Swinging Jamaicans, despite being a part-owner of the Calypso Club, continued to regularly perform at other clubs, the CNWA’s Calypso Carnival, and Toronto’s celebrations for Jamaican independence in 1962. Similarly, in addition to playing the after-hour clubs, Los Trinidados performed at specialized calypso and West Indian events like a New Year’s Eve party at the Palace Pier in 1962.

2013 12 14 StarOctober10 1964 287 LittleTrinidad SelloGomes

Steel drummer Sello Gomes had been working as a cleaner for a chemical company for a couple years when the Calypso Club offered him a gig for $170/week to lead his Tropitones as the house band. A regular of the nightclub circuit, Gomes realized within a couple years that playing dances and after-hours clubs wasn’t paying enough to support his growing family. “I wanted a steady pay cheque and liked to teach, so I went to the U of T (University of Toronto) for my B.A, my Honours degree, and then teacher’s college,” he said. After he got his teacher’s certificate and took a full-time job at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate, Gomes soon started a steelband and worked to integrate steel drumming into the city’s musical education curriculum.

(Right: Toronto Star [October 10, 1964])

Dave Martins’ career took another course. With rural Guyana offering little in the way of entertainment, Martins discovered calypso and guitar-playing at a young age. After he joined his sister in Toronto at the age of 21, he became friends with a fellow musician from the Bahamas and a local kid. The trio formed The Debonairs, playing mostly R&B with some Caribbean music thrown in.

2013 12 14 StarMay1 1968 150 LittleTrinidad Tradewinds

“We were just doing it for fun, but people who heard us rehearsing said, ‘You boys are good,’” Martins recalled to an interviewer. “So we auditioned at a couple of places and got a few jobs, and before we knew it we were having enough work to play music full time.” They played dances and the nightclub circuit through Ontario and the American Midwest until about 1963, when Martins worked for a music publisher, BMI Canada, composing pop songs for the North American market. He continued to perform on weekends as part of the West Indian house band at Club Tropics. “I gradually began to feel more of a pull to the Caribbean, which eventually led to me giving up that band for a couple of years and forming a band to play nothing but Caribbean music,” Martins says of his decision to once again become a full-time musician by forming The Tradewinds in late 1966, with a sound geared specifically for a Caribbean audience. “We were living in Canada, and I had formed a band aimed at Caribbean people.”

(Left: Toronto Star [May 1, 1968])

In this, Martins credited his immigration to Canada with a rediscovery of his musical roots. “Moving to Canada gave me an appreciation for Caribbean life that I would not otherwise have had, and as a writer that awareness leaves me able to find song subjects that someone else might overlook.”

Along with Martins on guitar and vocals, The Tradewinds other three members were all originally from Trinidad: drummer Kelvin Ceballo, bassist Joe R. Brown, and guitarist Glen Sorzano. They recorded a handful of songs in Toronto shortly after their formation, and “Honeymooning Couple” became the first of a series of hit records in the Caribbean, where they occasionally toured. The band would remain active in Canada until the early 1980s, playing nightclubs and dances and appearing at Expo 67, and continue to perform today from a Cayman Islands base.

2013 12 14 STarMay13 1967 218 Sparrow

International Caribbean artists continued visiting Toronto in the 1960s. Nassau singing star Richie Delamore had an extended residence at the Caravan Restaurant and Tavern (180 Queen Street West) in 1964. Calypso superstar Mighty Sparrow—”The greatest Calypsonian of all times,” said one ad—was booked at the Little Trinidad for a couple weeks in late 1964, and returned to the city again in 1967. Sometimes members of touring Jamaican bands like The Sheiks and The Cavaliers decided to stay behind. Lord Kitchener and Lord Brynner were among the well-known Trinidadians who toured to Toronto, although a Star review of their 1966 appearance illustrated the often narrow and condescending attitude calypsonians encountered.

(Left: Toronto Star [May 13, 1967])

“There were a few good moments during last night’s Calypso Fiesta at Massey Hall—but only for those who delight in dirty songs,” critic Ralph Thomas complained. “The rest was a bore. It convinced me, for one, that once you’ve heard one calypso song and one steel band number and seen one dance you’ve seen them all. …This show was supposed to show Torontonians what authentic calypso music with authentic calypsonians from Trinidad is all about. The calypsonians might have come from Trinidad all right, but give me supposedly ‘unauthentic’ calypso singers such as Harry Belafonte any day.”

By the late 1960s, the word was out back in Jamaica that there were several clubs in Toronto where West Indian musicians could work full-time, performing up to six times a week—even if that sometimes meant playing calypso, jazz, or even country music to pay the bills.

Karl Mullings, who’d managed the second-floor music hall at the WIF Club for a time and later co-owned the Club Jamaica (248 Yonge Street) acted as a talent scout in Canada and Jamaica. Mullings convinced several musicians to relocate to Toronto as loosening government regulations swelled the number of immigrants arriving from the West Indies. Musicians who’d left Jamaican bands like The Sheiks and The Cavaliers mid-tour remained in Toronto to form the house bands at the WIF Club and Club Jamaica through the late 1960s. The latter venue became the hangout for Jamaican musicians in Toronto, like Jackie Mittoo, the established ska star who was convinced by Mullings to make Toronto his home in 1969.

West Indian and Jamaican clubs on the Yonge Street strip persisted through the 1970s, and were joined by others during the growth in reggae’s mainstream popularity—including Tiger’s Coconut Grove, a Kensington Market reggae nightspot opened in about 1976 by Lord Power. The establishment of recordings studios rounded out the scene.

While the Jamaican and West Indian live music scene was booming in the 1970s and 1980s, the albums and recordings it produced just sat on the shelf. These Canadian-based Caribbean artists, moreover, were caught between a Canadian mainstream that ignored them—in terms of radio airplay and chart appearances—and the biases of Caribbean expatriates only interested in the “authentic” sounds emerging from Jamaica, not their Canadian-made variety. “If we had recorded those songs in Jamaica, they would have been hits,” the bassist for Toronto reggae group Earth, Roots, and Water, Anthony Hibbert, later explained. “With the nostalgic feeling of longing for back home, people were more into hearing stuff coming directly outta Jamaica, regardless of what kind of quality. We had a disadvantage that way.”

The popularity of Caribbean after-hours clubs, and the local live music scene they fostered—even if the music didn’t always fit strict genre definitions as calypso, ska, or reggae—played as much a role in the West Indian’s increased visibility in Toronto during the 1960s as Caribana, the pan-Caribbean cultural celebration that was Toronto’s answer to Expo 67. While many calypsonians, steelbands, and brightly-costumed dancers were flown in from the islands for the successful carnival, many of the performers, like The Cougars, had been regulars of the after-hours club circuit. And the event’s organizers included Charles Roach and Karl Mullings, who’d cut their teeth managing clubs.

West Indian musical communities continue to thrive to this day, with steel bands established as part of the musical education curriculum in public schools, regional and national calypso singing championships, and club nights and record stores specializing in reggae and dancehall.

Additional sources consulted: Bromley L. Armstrong, Bromley: Tireless Champion for Just Causes (Vitabu Publishing, 2000); Joe Cullen in Canadian Music Educator (Spring 2011); AnneMarie Gallaugher, “From Trinidad to Toronto: Calypso as a Way of Life,” Ph.D. Dissertation, York University (1991); Yaa Amoaba Gooden, “‘Betta Must Come’ African Caribbean Migrants in Canada: Migration, Community Building and Cultural Legacies,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Temple University (2005); Frances Henry, The Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto: Learning to Live with Racism (University of Toronto Press, 1994); Keith S. Henry, Black Politics in Toronto Since World War I (Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1981); Donna Hill, ed., A Black Man’s Toronto 1914-1980: The Reminisces of Harry Gairey (Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1981); Lawrence Hill, Women of Vision: The Story of the Canadian Negro Women’s Association 1951-1976 (Umbrella Press, 1996); W.E. Mann, ed., The Underside of Toronto (McClelland and Stewart, 1970); Keith McCuaig, “Jamaican Canadian Music in Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s: A Preliminary History,” MA Thesis, Carleton University (2012); James St. G. Walker, The West Indians in Canada (Canadian Historical Association, 1984); and articles and advertisements from the Globe and Mail (1955-1977); Polyphony (Spring/Summer 1984); and the Toronto Star (1955-2005).

Every Saturday, Historicist looks back at the events, places, and characters that have shaped Toronto into the city we know today.

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