Toronto Honors Reggae History


In Canada, the City of Toronto recently renamed a laneway off Eglinton Avenue West in honor of the neighborhood’s history as an “epicentre” of reggae music. The street is now called Reggae Lane. This event was accompanied by the unveiling of a mural on September 19 as well as a Toronto Heritage plaque that will be added to Reggae Lane, featuring photos of reggae artists Jackie Mittoo and Leeroy Sibbles as a tribute to Toronto’s reggae roots.


Still known as “Little Jamaica,” the neighbourhood was a hub for reggae in the 1970s and 80s, said Coun. Josh Colle. The street was lined with record shops and small recording studios and frequented by prominent reggae artists. “It really was the epicentre of reggae music in the world outside of Kingston, Jamaica,” said Colle, who pushed for the laneway to be renamed. “I wanted to make sure we commemorated this fantastic piece of history.”

On Saturday, Colle and local residents will be unveiling a reggae-themed mural in the laneway, as well as a Toronto Heritage plaque featuring artists like Jackie Mittoo and Leeroy Sibbles. “It’s like if you put Keith Richards and Paul McCartney together. For reggae music, that’s how big [Sibbles] is,” Colle said.

The new name is just the first step in revitalizing the alley. The non-profit Laneway Project has been working with the community to repair and beautify the side street. One day, the lane could become “a canvas for local culture,” said Laneway Project co-director Michelle Senayah, but first some of the more practical issues, like garbage and lighting, need to be addressed. [. . .]

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