Thursday, May 1, 2014

Muzik In The Days Before Ford

Music Day at the CNE, 1959 (via)

As you might have noticed, Muzik Nightclub has been in the news a lot recently. For one, they successfully lobbied the Board of Directors of the CNE to make a moronic decision: banning electronic dance music parties on the Exhibition Grounds in Toronto's latest bid to become the town from Footloose. It was an especially worrying decision given that Rob Ford is on the Board of Directors of the CNE and is also a familiar, drunken face at the club that wanted to ban their competition. The owner of Muzik argued that EDM parties encourage underage drug and alcohol abuse — a giant fucking fudge cake of irony now that the most recent drug scandal from our crack-smoking mess of a Mayor involves that very same club. Ford's recent appearances at Muzik have allegedly included snorting lines of coke, puking in the bathroom, and getting in an argument with Justin Bieber.

But Muzik hasn't always been Muzik. Until recently, it was the CNE's Horticulture Building. It was built all the way back in 1907 — with an iconic glass dome — as a showcase for "agricultural, horticultural and floricultural displays." I came across a couple of photos of the building back in 2012, when I was digging through archives for photographs to leave at the Ex as part of the Toronto Dreams Project's Department of Photographic Hauntings. So I thought I'd take the chance now to share them on the blog.

The building also has a tragic connection to the worst disaster in Toronto's history. In 1949, the S.S. Noronic caught fire while it was docked downtown. More than 100 people died in the flames; more than in any other disaster to ever happen in our city. So many died, in fact, that the Horticulture Building was turned into a makeshift morgue. Some of the bodies were so badly burned that the authorities were forced to develop new techniques of dental X-ray identification in order to ID the victims.

It's quite possibly the saddest thing to ever happen in Toronto — and it happened on the exact same spot where more than 60 years later, our Mayor got into a stupid fight with a pop star about his drug use. (Um, the Mayor's drug use, that is, not the pop star's.)

The Horticulture Building, 1920 (via Toronto Then And Now)

The Horticulture Building in 1927 (via Chuckman's always awesome postcard blog)

Inside the Horticulture Building in 1950 (via Toronto Then And Now)

Victims of the Noronic fire in 1949 (via the Cleveland Plain Dealer)


You can read my old post about the Noronic disaster here. And learn more about the Toronto Dreams Project's Department of Photographic Hauntings here. Metro has the story of the CNE's EDM ban here. The Star has the story of Ford's alleged coke-snorting, puking and Bieber fight here.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos! Thank you for this post. I've always wondered if George Wallace Gouinlock (the architect of this building and of many Edwardian CNE buildings, and who was supposed to be appointed as City Architect back in 1903), had any influence on the design of Allan Gardens Palmhouse (attributed to by Robert MacCallum, who WAS appointed City Architect in his stead).
    The three great Edwardian glass domes of Toronto – Allan Gardens Palmhouse (original structure burned in 1902, then re-designed 1905, completed 1910, by “City Architect”), the Horticulture Building (1907), the Dominion and Provincial Government Building (1912, now ‘Medieval Times’) the latter two by Gouinlock, are like three elegant sisters, that last of their line of the once grand Crystal Palace family…