Sam Record Man Sign

Iconic Sam the Record Man sign unlikely to return

Here's some disappointing but ultimately not surprising news: chances are the Sam the Record Man won't be a part of Ryerson's Student Learning Centre (SLC) after all. The school had previously committed to incorporating the neon facade into the new building, but president Sheldon Levy has now indicated that he "would rather not use the sign," according to the Eyeopener.

Levy and local councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam have both cited some of the challenges that using the sign would pose — which range from cost to energy conservation — but the decision ultimately rests with city council. When Ryerson negotiated the rights to build on the former site of Sam's, one of the stipulations was that the sign would be restored and used as part of the new building.

I tried to get an update about plans for the sign from of the university when it first released renderings of the new SLC in April, but after a frustratingly long email thread, all I got was this stock reply: "For many Torontonians Sam the Record Man has become a cultural icon that evokes many fond memories. We want to commemorate the site of Sam the Record Man in a special way so that people will always remember how important the northeast corner of Yonge and Gould Streets was. We're currently looking at a number of options for the neon signs, which we have carefully preserved since they were taken down."

I knew to worry then, but now I'd say there's little reason for hope at all. With what looks to be support from the local councillor and a mayor who would likely deem this "gravy," I won't hold my breath that council will vote to stick to the original plan. So, what would Ryerson like to do instead? An "interpretive commemorative plaque" or a sidewalk tribute. Neither sound up to the task of honouring what was once an iconic bit of Toronto's streetscape.

Photo by Phil Marion in the blogTO Flickr pool


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