shoppers drug mart museum toronto

There's a secret museum hidden inside a Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto

Take a break from browsing personal care items on the second floor of the Shoppers Drug Mart at the corner of Yonge-Dundas Square, and you'll find Friar's Music Museum, a micro museum that's currently devoted to the rich history of Caribbean music in Toronto. 

Situated just next to the skincare aisle and humbly occupying just 140 square feet of space, it was produced by the Downtown Yonge BIA and Shoppers Drug Mart. 

shoppers drug mart museum Its most recent exhibit, titled Rhythms and Resistance, pays homage to the city's Caribbean musical legacy and includes rare artifacts, like photographs, posters, handbills, recordings, videos, instruments, and clothing. 

The exhibition was co-curated by Toronto-based writer Klive Walker and music journalist Nicholas Jennings. 

shoppers drug mart museum Inside, you'll also find assorted ephemera related to the calypso, reggae, soul, funk, and hip-hop musicians in Toronto, all dating back to the first arrival of Caribbean immigrants in Toronto in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. 

"This collection of artifacts is an invitation to immerse yourself into the memories of diverse rhythms, melodies and lyrics crafted by artists from the English-Carribean as well as Canadian vocalists and musicians whose Caribbean heritage dances in their DNA," a description of the exhibit reads. 

"It is a call to enter a portal into the music history of this city."

shoppers drug mart museum Some of the prominent artists featured in the exhibition include Bob Marley, Lillian Allen, Jackie Mittoo, Louise Bennett, the Mighty Sparrow, JoJo Bennett, Leroy Sibbles, Michie Mee, and Jay Douglas.

Notable artifacts include the illuminated sign for the music store, Record Nook, which was located at 1400 Bathurst St. and run by ska musicians, Jackie Mittoo and Lord Tanamo. 

shoppers drug mart museum You can also check out a hand-painted sign in promotion of the first Caribana in Toronto in 1967, which has since grown to be North America's largest annual Caribbean carnival.

shoppers drug mart museum While you might think it's peculiar for a Shoppers Drug Mart to be the site of a devoted music museum, the legendary building where the retailer resides was once home to the Hard Rock Cafe and landmark music venue, the Friar's Tavern, along with its companion space, Nickelodeon. 

shoppers drug mart museum The museum is completely free and accessible and is located on the second floor of the Shoppers Drug Mart at 279 Yonge St. 

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim 

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