What’s my take on “Reggae Lane”?
Did you know there was even such a thing? Well there is! A laneway at the corner of Oakwood and Eglinton avenues, behind the stores on Eglinton Avenue has this new name. A few politicians, a couple of reggae community performers and so on and ‘walah’ the name was given.
The reasoning behind the laneway name was, with the expansion of the TTC and the influx condos and businesses, folks felt it important to maintain a memory of Little Jamaica as well as the numbers of social activities that happened down the lane over the past fifty years. Back down the lane were parties, jam sessions, rehearsal spots, record stores and all reggae related things. It was where many of us went to hang out, buy / listen to records that were hot off the press from JA. It seemed to be the hub of everything reggae back in the day. It was where many of the artists of the time used to hang out. It was where you went to get the flyers for all the reggae dances and shows coming to town.
I spoke with a few of the business owners on the strip and some weren’t even aware that the lane had a new name or that it was actually named “Reggae Lane”. Some felt insulted by the choice of that spot because they have themselves been around for decades and can tell graphic, negative stories of what has transpired over the years still happens in that lane.
Some fear that it is a kind of pat on the back (European settlers landing on the shores with fire water, blankets and rock candy) for what is about to come with subway expansion and ‘progress’, Little Jamaica is about to be eliminated. There are as many businesses closed as there are open currently. Every second door it seems has a closed, out of business, brown paper on the windows, liquidation sales and this once vibrant area now seems like a bit of a ghost town in certain spots. Some feel that ‘bigger minds’ plotting the demise of the area in order to make progressive change.
Well, I was not privy to any of the back boardroom talks so I have no idea what their future plans for Little Jamaica are but they did name the lane “Reggae Lane” and I do run Canadian Reggae World, so I wish to put a totally positive spin on things. I see this as an opportunity to do exactly as the word says and use our love for reggae music to create positive change once again. I am told that there will be paint jobs and murals put up and the laneway cleaned up, so I’d love to be a part of such a positive energy in this time.
Some of the reggae artists who gave the laneway some celebrity are still alive and well today and we do have many people who play reggae music in Canada today. I’d love to host a “Block Party down the Lane” and use it as an opportunity to shine some light on Little Jamaica and give a boost to the businesses in the area through the use of reggae music.