Photo by Cameron
In 1947, the Horseshoe Tavern opened up at the downtown corner of Spadina and Queen. In the 64 years since, it has survived all the ups and downs you would expect to come to such a long-lived institution, but it has come out on top. In fact, the Horseshoe was even used as a venue for official JUNO events this year. If you have ever been to the Horseshoe Tavern, this might come as a surprise. It is small, dark, and lightly scented with stale beer. The layout is a little strange, with the stage located in the rear and seating positioned in a fairly narrow column in front of it.
The selection of the Horseshoe Tavern for the honour of hosting events in commemoration of the JUNO’s 40th year becomes a little less strange when we remember that this bar with the rinky-dink stage has hosted some of the greats. In the Horseshoe’s earlier years, it received Willie Nelson, Blue Rodeo, and Stompin’ Tom. Having established itself, the venue was graced with the presence of The Police and The Tragically Hip.
Photo by Jeff Karpala
More recently, a slew of contemporary musicians have considered themselves privileged to stand in the legendary Horseshoe Tavern. Matchbox 20, The Old 97’s, Spoon, Danko Jones, Neko Case, Nickelback, and The Shins have all held live shows at the Horseshoe in the past 15 years. It is really quite astonishing, if you think about it, to step into the Horseshoe as a lover of music and know that so many great careers were built and celebrated within those walls.
The Horseshoe Tavern is located in one of the most pedestrian-friendly areas of Toronto. If you walk east of the venue on Queen, you can shop in a sort of outside mall, with stores including Rudsak, Lush, Nike, Club Monaco, and Kiehl’s. If you walk west, you can stroll onto the street affectionately known as Queen West West. Here, you will find gourmet kitchen stores, independent clothing boutiques, and posh little coffee shops.