Here are some suggested print, film and web resources pertaining to the Toronto music scene up to 1968.

Print (Many of these books are also available as e-books):

Bingham, Dave. 2015. Noise from the North End. Victoria, BC: Friesen Press.

The singer from the Ugly Ducklings penned this detailed memoir that tells the story of the Ducks but also provides a fan's-eye view of the scene. Bingham takes the story up to the present day.

Bowman, Rob. 2017. Liner notes to Jackie Shane: Any Other Way. The Numero Group.

Rob Bowman, a Grammy-winning musicologist and York professor, provides the definitive Jackie Shane story informed by exclusive interviews with Ms. Shane herself. This package was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2019.

Clayton-Thomas, David. 2011. Blood, Sweat and Tears. Toronto: Penguin Canada.

A well-written rollicking memoir. Essential.

Cullen, Don. 2007. The Bohemian Embassy: Memories and Poems. Hamilton, ON: Wolsak and Wynn.

Don's own idiosyncratic take on his time running the legendary after-hours arts space on St. Nicholas Street.

Edwardson, Ryan. 2009. Canuck Rock: A History of Canadian Popular Music. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Semi-academic history of Canadian rock music.

Finkelstein, Bernie. 2012: True North: A Life In The Music Business. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

Bernie Finkelstein is a major historical figure in Canadian music, and his account of the rise and fall of the Paupers and Kensington Market is fascinating.

Goddard, Peter and Philip Kamin. 1989. Shakin' All Over: The Rock'n'Roll Years in Canada. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

Interviews and written remembrances by some early principals.

Hall, Ron. 1990. The CHUM Chart Book 1957-1986: A Complete Listing of Every Charted Record. Toronto: Stardust Productions.

Hawkins, Ronnie with Peter Goddard. 1989. Last of the Good Ol' Boys. Toronto: Stoddart.

Packed with Hawkins' inimitable humour and way with words.

Hemmingsen, Piers. 2015. The Beatles In Canada: The Origins of Beatlemania. Self-published.

An essential reference work for not only understanding the story of the Beatles' early impact on the Canadian scene, but the infrastructure of the early Canadian music business in general, including record companies and recording studios.

Helm, Levon and Stephen Davis. 2000. This Wheel's On Fire. Chicago: Chicago Review Press.

Henderson, Stuart. 2011. Making the Scene: Yorkville and Hip Toronto in the 1960s. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

A detailed study of the rise and fall of the Yorkville youth subculture.

Horne, Larry. 2019. Music is the Magic: Looking Back at the High Notes. Self-published.

Jackson, Rick. 1994. Encyclopedia of Canadian Rock, Pop & Folk Music. Kingston, ON: Quarry Press.

Jennings, Nicholas. 1998. Before the Gold Rush. Toronto: Penguin Canada.

The premier general history of pre-Cancon Canadian rock, rhythm and blues and folk music. Sadly out of print.

Jennings, Nicholas. 2000. Fifty Years of Music: The Story of EMI Music Canada. MacMillan.

Jennings, Nicholas. 2017. Lightfoot. Toronto: Viking.

The definitive bio, with cooperation from Gord himself.

Kay, John and John Einarson. 1994. John Kay – Magic Carpet Ride. Kingston, ON: Quarry Press.

Kearney, Mark and Randy Ray. 2017. As The Years Go By...Conversations with Canada's Folk, Pop & Rock Pioneers. Ottawa: The Trivia Guys.

An encyclopedic compendium of interview vignettes.

McCuaig, Keith. 2012. Jamaican Canadian Music in Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s: A Preliminary History. Masters Thesis: Carleton University.

Mendelson Joe and Nadia Halim. 2000. Alien – The Strange Life and Times of Mendelson Joe. Toronto: ECW Press.

Melhuish, Martin. 1983. Heart of Gold. Toronto: CBC Enterprises.

A general history of Canadian popular music.

Melhuish, Martin, 1996. Oh What A Feeling!. Kingston, ON: Quarry Press.

Miller, Mark. 2011. Way Down That Lonesome Road: Lonnie Johnson in Toronto, 1965-1970. Toronto: The Mercury Press and Teksteditions.

The definitive history of the Toronto years of Lonnie Johnson, a pioneering African-American jazz and blues musician.

Robertson, Robbie. 2016. Testimony. Toronto: Knopf Canada.

Exceedingly well-written and vivid. A page-turner.

Shapiro, Shain. 2014. After The Goldrush: The History of Popular Music Funding in Canada. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

The nuts and bolts of CanCon.

Vernon, Jaimie. 2012. The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia: A Biographical Index. 2 vols. E-book: Bullseye Canada.

A sprawling reference work on practically every Canadian act that ever put out a recording.

Wallis, Ian. 1996. The Hawk – The Story of Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks. Kingston, ON: Quarry Press

Whatmough, Dave. 1995. 50 Year Directory of Canadian 45 & 78 RPM Records:1940 to 1990. Self-published.

Wilson, Tom. 2018. I Am Tommy. Victoria, BC: Friesen Press.

A highly individual memoir by the Little Caesar and the Consuls bassist and booking agent. Pulls few punches, and is thus a unique insider account.

Wright, Gary R. 2011. Troubles and Trials. Self-published.

Historical anecdotes and some score-settling.

Yorke, Ritchie. 1971. Axes, Chops & Hot Licks: The Canadian Rock Music Scene. Edmonton: Hurtig.

One of the first historical accounts of Canadian rock, published at the dawn of CanCon.


Robbie Lane and the Disciples: The Lost Tapes. DVD. Contains one episode from A Go Go '66 and two from It's Happening. Performers include Robbie Lane, Shawne Jackson, Jon and Lee, the Baronets, the Charmaines, Jayson King, The Allen Sisters, The Staccatos, Claudette (Claudja Barry), Colleen Peterson, Stephanie Taylor, The 5D. Invaluable archival performances, few of which are available on YouTube.
Available from Robbie Lane.

Yonge Street: Rock and Roll Stories. Bruce McDonald and Jan Haust. 3 one-hour episodes. 2011.
Currently not available online - hopefully there will be a DVD release at some point.


The vast majority of Toronto Sound recordings are out of print, and not available from any legitimate source. Some classics have been reissued in the digital age (after 1982) but they go in and out of print. Availability on the streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music) is abysmal at the moment.
This site offers free searchable streaming of a large number of digital transfers from the original vinyl, including otherwise unavailable Toronto Sound classics.

Gerry Miskolczi's excellent Canadian Records and Artists Appreciation Page on Facebook. Populated by many original participants in the Canadian music scene.

A good history of the Mynah Birds.

Russ Strathdee was a busy pro sax player at the peak of the Toronto Sound. His knowledge is vast and informed by first-hand experience. He writes one of the best blogs on the period.

Scanned copies of RPM and Music World magazines.

The online version of Jaimie Vernon's Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia (see Books, above).

Online discographies - invaluable for tracking down information about issued recordings.

Piers Hemmingsen's invaluable online discographies and reference information.

Not graphically pretty but encyclopedic.

Many, many reviews of Canadian recordings.

A collection of historical vignettes and airchecks.