Folk Music in Toronto

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A blog about the best places to enjoy live folk music in Toronto.


Toronto is a city with a rich folk music tradition. The city has been home to many influential folk musicians and has produced a number of significant recordings. Toronto is also home to a number of folk music festivals, including the Mariposa Folk Festival, which is one of the oldest and largest folk festivals in North America.

Toronto’s folk music scene thrived in the early 1960s, when the city was home to a number of influential clubs, including the Embassy Tavern and the Riverboat Coffee House. These clubs attracted many of the era’s most famous folk musicians, including Bob Dylan, who recorded his first live album, “Bob Dylan at Budokan,” at the Riverboat Coffee House in 1964.

The Toronto Folk Music Society was founded in 1966 and continues to promote traditional and contemporary folk music in the city. The society organizes regular concerts and workshops, and produces a monthly concert series called “Folk Night at Hugh’s Room.”

The Mariposa Folk Festival is one of the oldest and largest folk festivals in North America. The festival was founded in 1961 by two University of Toronto students, Eleanor Studevant andTABernie Finklestein. The Mariposa Folk Festival takes place every summer on Toronto Island and features many of Canada’s leading folk musicians.

A Brief History of Folk Music in Toronto

Folk music has been an important part of Toronto’s music scene for many years. The city has a long history of folk music, dating back to the early days of the city when it was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Folk music has always had a strong presence in Toronto, with a number of iconic folk clubs and venues.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in folk music in Toronto. This has been driven in part by a new generation of musicians who are interested in exploring their musical roots. Folk music is also enjoying increased popularity due to its embrace of new technologies and social media.

Toronto is home to a number of excellent folk clubs and venues, including the Hugh’s Room, the Dakota Tavern, and the Lula Lounge. These clubs offer a great opportunity to see some of the best folk musicians in the city.

The Rise of the Toronto Folk Scene

In the early 1960s, the Toronto folk music scene was on the rise. Bob Dylan and his contemporaries were at the forefront of a new wave of folk music that was both politically and socially conscious. This new wave of folk music would go on to inspire a generation of Canadian musicians, including Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell.

The Toronto folk music scene was buoyed by the arrival of American Folk musicians such as Tom Paxton, Pete Seeger, and Odetta. These musicians brought with them a new energy and excitement for folk music. They inspired a generation of young Canadians to pick up guitars and start playing.

The Toronto Folk Scene reached its peak in the mid-1960s. This was due in part to the increased popularity of Folk music, but also because Toronto was home to some of the best Folk clubs in North America. Clubs such as The Purple Onion, The Gaslight, and The Newport were important centers for Folk music in Toronto. They provided a place for musicians to perform and for fans to enjoy live music.

The mid-1960s also saw the rise of political activism in the Folk scene. Musicians such as Dave Carter and Phil Ochs used their songs to protest against social injustice and war. The message of these songs resonated with many young people who were looking for a way to express their discontent with the world around them.

The Folk scene in Toronto began to decline in the late 1960s as popularity for the genre waned. However, many of the musicians who came out of that scene went on to have successful careers in other genres of music. The legacy of the Toronto Folk Scene can still be seen in today’s Music community.

The Toronto Folk Scene Today

The Toronto folk scene is vibrant and alive, with many music venues and events to enjoy. Folk music has a long history in Toronto, and the city has been home to many famous folk musicians over the years.

Today, there are many different genres of folk music represented in Toronto. You can find everything from traditional Celtic music to contemporary singer-songwriter tunes. There are also many opportunities to enjoy live folk music, whether you’re attending a concert or checking out one of the city’s many open mic nights.

If you’re interested in learning more about folk music in Toronto, there are plenty of resources available. The Toronto Folk Music Society is a great place to start, as they offer regular events and workshops for both beginners and experienced musicians. You can also check out the Folk Music Ontario website for information on upcoming concerts and festivals.


In conclusion, folk music in Toronto is alive and well! There are many different venues and events that cater to this genre, and there is a community of passionate musicians and fans supporting it. If you’re looking for a relaxed and authentic musical experience, be sure to check out some of the great folk music in Toronto.

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