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Take an excursion just south of downtown Toronto to retired carpenter Andrew Smith’s modest home, and you’ll be greeted with close to two dozen of Toronto’s former music venues — all preserved in detail-rich miniature.

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Smith, who’s had a decades-long career in the visual display and awards show stage set industries, was caught during the pandemic with a need to express his creativity (and save his sanity) while at home. A few guitars in the corner of the room remind him to take them out and play once in a while.

Toronto Lost Music City

What began as creating a few little libraries in his own neck of the woods morphed into his first venue creation: The Silver Dollar Room.

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Smith has two basic criteria when it comes to creating his mini venues: they must be a live music venue and have been shuttered, closed and gone in silence.

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This, combined with Smith’s love for old jazz and rock and roll, inspires him to explore these past gems in full detail, right down to the tiny flyers and music magazines that adorn many of his works of art.

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He describes The Bamboo as “fucking amazing” and explained to me that this venue’s stage is where everything coalesced in Toronto’s music scene of the 1980’s along Queen Street West.

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The Matador sign was his third such mini venue, created due to his love for that iconic sign. When he posted the completed sign to a Friends of the Matador Facebook page, fans took notice and from that point on, Toronto’s Music City was born.

The fun is in the details. — Andrew Smith

Since having posted a photo of the collection at a friend’s gallery, the media took notice as well, and his place has been visited numerous times over the past month by CBC, Toronto Star as well as other large and small outlets.

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He has a long list of venues yet to produce and envisions the collection finding a permanent home at the City of Toronto Archives in the not-too-distant future.

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Until then, anyone with an interest in viewing the mini venues is welcome to stop by (Smith recently launched an Instagram account after his daughter convinced him to do so. His handle is @asmith.yyz).

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All venues have a personal connection; nostalgia for these venues keeps him going. I look forward to seeing more of his newly-found passion for keeping Toronto’s music scene alive – albeit in mini format – as the collection expands.

2 Comments

  • Comment by siouxsieee — May 3, 2022 @ 11:57 am

    Those are super cool! So many memories seeing all those brought back to life! Ill definitely check out his insta account!

  • Comment by Ariane Colenbrander — May 3, 2022 @ 12:13 pm

    I thought so too! Andrew was generous with his time and his creativity knows no bounds. Thanks for reading!

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