Dive deep into Toronto’s music history with this new online exhibit

Heritage Toronto's Sounds Like Toronto project explores everything from Speaker's Corner to Vazaleen parties at the El Mocambo

Toronto has a rich musical history and you can now explore it all with a new interactive online exhibit. Sounds Like Toronto launched to the public late last week with 35 different stories, each representing bits of the city’s music legacy.

It’s a creation of Heritage Toronto and Plank Media as part of the Canadian Museum of History’s Digital Museums Canada project.

Head to the website of Sounds Like Toronto and you can start exploring right away. It’s split into four overarching categories: Beginnings: Starting Out In Toronto; Pushing Boundaries: Music as a Catalyst for Change; Belonging: Creating Community; and Making It: Toronto Takes Centre Stage.

Or, you can look into the history of individual musicians, from Jackie Shane to Buffy Sainte-Marie to Drake. You can also get into some of the city’s most storied music venues, like the Concert Hall, the BamBoo or Massey Hall. (We’ve been known to do that a bit ourselves.) And there are some local legends like Will Munro, an artist and show-thrower who united queer and punk scenes.

There’s a particularly fun branch dedicated to MuchMusic, packed with classic videos of VJs, Speaker’s Corner and Electric Circus. You could easily lose a few days travelling into your own nostalgia. Now’s the best time for that kind of thing.

“The social justice movements of the past 65 years in Toronto have a soundtrack”, says Allison Bain, executive director of Heritage Toronto. “Sounds Like Toronto features artists whose music provides messages of hope and healing, calls to resist and for social change. Their work resonates today.”

Sounds Like Toronto was three years in the making, and it shows. It’s dense with material, from to-the-point historical tidbits to original interviews with pivotal people, archival photos and videos, with material contributed by all sorts of local museums and archives, institutions like the Junos and Polaris Prize, social media historians like the Flyer Vault and even a few universities.

And if the click-around museum exhibit doesn’t satisfy your local music craving, there’s also an extended further reading list of resources. There are also a ton of playlists.

So, goodbye to the rest of your week. Sounds Like Toronto is here.


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