Rye never wanted Sam

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By Lauren Strapagiel

If you’re surprised that Ryerson doesn’t want to use the Sam the Record Man sign, you shouldn’t be.

When the Student Learning Centre’s plans were first revealed, the building was modern, airy and unlike anything else on the Yonge Street strip. And that is precisely why you didn’t see the Sam’s sign anywhere.

The neon spinning records were installed almost half a century ago, far before anyone was making attempts to revitalize Yonge Street. There was no place to buy a Macbook or a trendy burrito and there were far fewer billboards lighting up the Yonge and Dundas intersection.

There were strip joints, bars and prostitutes balancing on their heels in between. Sam’s is a relic of Yonge Street’s ungentrified and gritty past. A memorable part of Toronto’s history for some, but it’s a time that Ryerson is building to forget.

Why would Ryerson want to put a hunk of ancient neon discs on their shiny new Yonge Street real estate?

Their goal is the future and seeing through the task of bringing Bloor Street’s pizzazz and the Discovery District’s reputation for innovation to Yonge Street. And they’re certainly not going to let a much-loved but very much dead music store get in their way.

Even the politicians who fought to have the sign preserved are giving the thought of using them on the SLC a big ol’ “meh.”

Is it fair for Ryerson to buy a Toronto landmark then try to pass off the duty of reviving the signs? That’s for you to decide.

Tweet us @theeyeopener with what you think should become of Sam’s spinning signs.



  1. Why not combine this relic of Yonge Street’s “ungentrified and gritty past” with Carlton Street’s similar relic – Maple Leaf Gardens. Given the number of concerts held in the Gardens and Sam’s being a popular destination before and after the concerts, the match is appropriate. And people can reminisce about the good old days when music came of records and the Leafs were Stanley cup winners or contenders.

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