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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Rockin' At Big Daddy's

My son John-Paul and brother Mike sat in for a couple of songs at Big Daddy’s Bar and Grill in Newmarket November 4th 2016 - John Dowson

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Jerry Lee Lewis at Toronto's Le Coq d'Or

Yes I was right….I did see Jerry Lee Lewis and his band play at Le Coq’Dor in their downstairs lounge in the summer of 1959. 

I’m reading Jerry Lee Lewis’s autobiography and there it is in the book saying he played Le coq’dor in Toronto. 

For years people have been telling me I was nuts, I began to believe myself that it didn’t happen and now there it is in writing in his book. 

I was playing with Tommy Danton and the Echoes at the Zanzibar Tavern just up the street. We had just returned to Toronto from Quebec city where we played at the Bal’Taberan. We were at the Zanzibar all summer July and August 1959.  We heard that Jerry Lee Lewis was playing at Le coq’dor and between sets we would go down to catch his act, but because his marriage to his 13 year old cousin had taken place in 1958 and his England trip with his teenager bride was a disaster his star had fallen and he was playing, what he called “Beer Joints” so not many people were in the room during the week. 

As I remember it was just a trio piano, bass and drums, we even had the chance to speak with him. He was there for a week and we saw him at Bassels restaurant where all the waiters, and musicians would go to eat after the bars closed. 

As the years passed I wasn’t sure if he really played Toronto before he went to England or after but he says in his biography that it was after his career spiraled down. 

He writes, "I played juke joints in  Chicago, Iowa  and even Le Coq’dor in Toronto". 

So there it is. 

Did you or anyone else see him when he played la coq’dor Tavern in Toronto in 1959? 

About ten years ago I met the owner of The Simcoe Arms hotel in Sutton Ontario Gord Josie. He as a country singer and later manager of Le coq’dor and he confirmed that Jerry Lee Lewis played the tavern downstairs. 

So Russ you can put that on the site.

- John Dowson

Friday, February 12, 2016

Willowdale Woman Invents Solar Clothes Dryer

Stella Dowson of 68 Parkview has invented an energy efficient solar clothes dryer. In the attached photo Stella Dowson is seen preparing to operate the device, which is installed at the back of her house.
Another Willowdale Fifties First!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

McKee Avenue Public School

As kids I remember laying on the grass at McKee Avenue School with Johnny Ryan and others and looking for faces or objects in the clouds.
Smog has been a wonderful feature of Toronto life for a very long time. When I was working for the Township (1958-59) we were way over where North York connected to Scarough - sort of up on a hill there - and you could look into Toronto to the west-southwest and see the smog over the city. Actually, I think you live over near there -- The Smog was bad and that was in the fall of 1958.
As kids we also talked about getting away from the "Rat Race" which was life in Toronto as we saw it. I don't think people in the GTA really think about the Rat Race any more. I suppose if you are in it long enough then you think that is all there is.
In Moose Jaw we have three rush-hours; in the morning - at lunch time because everyone goes home for lunch and then in the evening. In the thick of rush-hour, like this morning, there can be upwards of twelve cars in front of you.
The question now is, "Is there a rat race in Toronto anymore?" Out here a day has 24 hours. In Toronto, the young people spend 3 to 4 hours going to and from work - and 8 hours at work -- so days must be longer in Toronto - like a Toronto day has to be 27.5 hours long to be the same as a Moose Jaw day where it takes only 15 minutes to get to work -- or all the way across town for that matter.
But 2 hours one way to work ---whew -- that is a big part of the day. You can buy neat - fancy stuff with all the money but can only mess with your stuff on the weekend - as long as you don't drive to Muskoka - because then you are screwed because of driving time.
So Charles? Is there a Rat Race any longer or was that just old 50s talk. And is cloud watching no longer a passion for young kids?
And why am I not nostaligic for Toronto? Now Newmarket is different - I love that place! And Gravenhurst! And Dunchurch! And Parry Sound! - is there a theme here ---
-  Richard Dowson

Ray Harris and his sister Shirley 1976.

Friday, December 4, 2015

50th Anniversary Reunion of Georges Vanier S.S.

FROM CHUCK DOWSON (December 4, 2015)

Hi everyone!

Now I understand that [not] all of you probably graduated in '69 from Earl Haig. I am sending this out to you just in case you may know someone who may have gone to George Vanier S S like I did. Perhaps they would be interested in going to the reunion on May 14 of next year. I will attach the site below.

I took a year off school from October '66 to September '67 to work and take a break from 11 years of schooling. So I was a year behind you guys and graduated at Vanier in June of '70.

That was a "Very Good Year". The Prom was amazing! It was at the Great Hall at the Ontario Science Centre , I wore a tux and Gerarda wore a gown of blues pink and beige which went great with her blonde hair and her pink corsage.

 A group of us rented a stretch limo for the night and after we took our dates home we had the driver drive us to several all night restaurants were we ate and partied the best we could as we were all under age to drink back then. The movie Diner was us! I was the last to get home at 6 am. When ever I hear the theme for St. Elmo's Fire I go right back to that prom night.

 A year of working at an electronics outfit, having and saving money, building a T Shirt company for the summer with two buddies of mine, printing in our home basement and ending the company year at the three day Mosport Rock Festival summer of '70 with making a big cash profit each before closing for the summer prepped me for the summer of '71. That was four months of solo travel throughout Europe and North Africa and back in time for Art College at Sheridan that September. Wow! Those memories flood back.

Anyway just keep the site close in your favorites in case you might come across anyone who went there and would be interested. Here's the site and some memorable tunes.

Talk to you all soon. 😊

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I remember Dave Somerville and The Diamonds

On a weekend in the autumn of 1956 I was getting ready to take my girlfriend out for the evening but before I left I wanted to watch “The Diamonds” who were performing on a live CBC TV Variety show. After their performance I picked up my girlfriend and we went to the Edison Hotel to listen and dance to a Rock n Roll band. The Edison hotel, which has since burned down was on the corner of Gould and Yonge Street in downtown Toronto. When we got there the club was crowded so the waiter seated us at a table with young fellow and his wife. A few minutes later “The Diamonds” walked into the club. They were still wearing the matching suits they wore on the TV show earlier that evening. They were well known locally and when they entered the club erupted into applause. The house band stopped playing and the bandleader asked “The Diamonds” to come on stage. He introduced the group and asked them if they would sing a number. They sang two songs, I can’t remember which ones but I’m sure one was “Little Darlin” and when they finished they came straight over to our table. I was surprised but it turned out that the fellow at our table was a singer from Vancouver who had been on the TV show with “The Diamonds” that evening and they came over to say hello. The singer’s name was Van (something) In those days the TV shows were live, and here we were all about the same age, sitting at a table talking to “The Diamonds” that we had just watched live on TV. They sat down introduced themselves and spent about 20 minutes talking with us. After they left the singer from Vancouver asked us to take him to some other nightspots where we could see some more live Toronto entertainment. We took them to a number of clubs, but we spent most of the night singing “Little Darlin”. It was an evening I’ve never forgotten. I later moved to Vancouver and in 1968 I saw Dave Somerville at the Queen Elizabeth theatre where he sang and performed on the Labour Day Telethon hosted by Leonard Nimoy. - John Dowson, 60 Harrison Drive Newmarket ON L3Y 4P4 -