toronto 1990s

30 signs you grew up in Toronto in the 1990s

Toronto in the 1990s was truly an awesome spot. Technology had yet to overtake our lives; instead it constantly delivered cool new toys and mouth-watering possibilities. Things got grungier, sexier and rawer. Our local television universe expanded, while the internet blew everything wide open.

We stared into an impending millennium and projected a beautiful future... that still hasn't quite arrived. Everyone who grew up in Toronto in the 1990s will remember it slightly differently, but these are some of the retro ties which universally bind us.

Behold, 30 signs you grew up in Toronto in the '90s.

Blue Jays

1. Your Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992. And then again, the following year, and you wondered how anything could possibly ever top that.

Bareneaked Ladies

2. You or someone you knew owned the Barenaked Ladies yellow tape.

Street Fighter

3. You dropped a lot of change into Streetfighter II arcades, which luckily could be found in most Pizza Pizza locations.

PJ Phil

4. You thought PJ "Phresh" Phil was the coolest guy on TV, and as you watched him daily on YTV's The Zone and hoped one day you might be 1/1000th as awesome as he was.

5. You were slightly freaked out by Bert & Gert, the rabbits from Stay Alert Stay Safe who appeared on TV and in school to warn you of stranger danger with alarming frequency.

HMV yonge

6. You bought many CDs at the HMV at 333 Yonge St, which amazingly allowed you to actually listen to them on the 2nd floor before purchase.

7. Your go-to guy for pop music was the mighty Tarzan Dan, on TV and radio.

8. You watched Speaker's Corner religiously because you once dropped $1 to record one and wondered if it ever made it on air. You also learned about the existence of the Barenaked Ladies, Scott Speedman and Zanta thanks to the show.

John Candy

9. March 4, 1994 officially became the saddest day ever when you heard that John Candy had died.

10. You engaged in home karaoke sessions thanks to Polytel.

Cotton Ginny Toronto

11. You noticed that everyone wore Cotton Ginny.

Phnatom Opera Toronto

12. As the decade rolled on, you were increasingly haunted by the demented narrator who demanded we "buy Phantom by phone" for The Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages Theatre.

13. You got your first lesson in corporate re-branding when you visited Canada's Wonderland and noticed it was now called Paramount's Canada's Wonderland and was overrun with Klingons and rides based upon feature films like Days of Thunder and Top Gun.

14. You watched Star Trek: The Next Generation on Citytv ("Your Federation Station") but drew the line at attending the finale with 40,000 trekkies at the SkyDome.

cineplex toronto

15. You took full advantage of $2 Tuesdays at Cineplex, even if the Eaton Centre theatre screen was not much bigger than your TV at home.

16. You rented video games and VHS tapes at Blockbuster, and there seemed to be one on every corner.

Toronto Raptors

17. You cheered the arrival of the Toronto Raptors in 1995 and after the Jays back-to-back World Series wins were sure it was the birth of a new Toronto sports dynasty.

Lees Palace

18. You went to Lee's Palace and had your ears blown off by a live show, or simply checked out the latest Britpop or Electronica being played at the Dance Cave.

19. You listened to the Jesse & Gene show on AM640, and felt like it was really pushing the envelope.

20.You were in awe of the rich people and drug dealers who had cell phones.

Pay Per View

21. You endured scrambled signals on Pay-Per-View in the faint hope the picture would stabilize for a split second.

Prince of Love

22. You stayed up late to see Dave Bronstein aka "the Prince of Love" tell you how to pick up girls in Toronto night clubs, and if you were really brave you called his 1-900 number and put a $50 charge on your parent's phone bill.

299 Queen

23. You made regular pilgrimage to 299 Queen Street West, home of MuchMusic and Citytv - epicentre of all cool things in the city. No matter the time of day, this temple of pop-culture hegemony was guaranteed to be a hive of activity.

24. You regularly watched Electric Circus to "make fun of it", but you secretly loved Monika Deol and the EC dancers.

Now Magazine

25. You looked at NOW because it was actually a useful alt-weekly.

Chris Sheppard

26. You owned at least one Chris Sheppard Pirate Radio Sessions CD.

27. You heard a lot about Ice beer and how strong it was and figured if you were gonna crush brew, it might as well be that.

Science centre rave

28. You went to a rave at the Ontario Science Centre.

29.. You found Rap City on MuchMusic to be essential viewing for a dose of hip-hop, rap and ragga, as it was pretty much the only place you could find it.


30. You didn't really notice Toronto's official millennial mascot - "Millenni" - but went to Nathan Phillip's Square anyways to usher in the year 2000 and all the amazing things the new millennium would bring...

Ed Conroy's Retrontario plumbs the seedy depths of Toronto flea markets, flooded basements, thrift shops and garage sales, mining old VHS and Betamax tapes that less than often contain incredible moments of history that were accidentally recorded but somehow survived the ravages of time. You can find more amazing discoveries at

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