Hugh’s Room to find new home in East Toronto

Music venue initially opened in 2001 and has been a hub for emerging artists in Toronto

New Hugh's Room location on Broadview Avenue
Broadview Faith Temple on Broadview Avenue is the expected home for Hugh's Room after renovations in 2024. (Jamie Casemore / Toronto Observer 

In March 2020, music venue Hugh’s Room was forced to look for a new location due to an increase in rent. They found one in East Toronto.

Hugh’s Room, generally known for folk music, is a small music venue that opened in 2001 and has hosted muscians like Pete Seeger and Sylvia Tyson, but is also known as a place for emerging muscians to find an audience.

“Having a Hugh’s Room around has been a really huge resource for a lot of emerging artists,” said Jim Thomas, alternate board chair for Hugh’s Room.

“We are one of the few organizations that is a feeder for venues like Massey Hall,” Thomas said.

3030 Dundas St. W. is one of the venues Hugh’s Room has been using while waiting for their new home. (Jamie Casemore / Toronto Observer

Hugh’s Room’s old venue at 2261 Dundas St. W. had its rent raised to an unsustainable rate, forcing management to leave and search for a new location.

“When [Hugh’s Room] closed a lot of people were really unhappy and disappointed and that’s why we were able to put together an amazing team over the last couple of years to help us come back,” Thomas said.

A new home

The Hugh’s Room team found the Broadview Faith Temple, a church at 296 Broadview Ave. designed by E.J Lennox, the architect behind Casa Loma among many other buildings in Toronto.

Hugh’s Room was able raise more than $2 million through donations and loans, and received a guaranteed loan from the city for $2.2 million to support the purchase of the church.

Although Thomas and the Hugh’s Room team believe that many people who visited Hugh’s Room at their old location will come to the new one, they also think — due to scouting the area and speaking with locals — there is an audience for live music in East Toronto, which is underserved.

Provided everything goes to plan, the new location is expected to be renovated and opened in 2024.

Live music venues lost in city

During the pandemic, music venues had to close temporarily and, for some, the closure was permanent.

“In that first year [of COVID-19], Toronto lost a lot of venues for live music that closed their doors for good,” said Dana Wigle, general manager for JJAZZ.FM91, a 24/7 jazz radio broadcaster, known for its support of musicians and music venues.

“Now I think that as everything starts to reopen … we’re now entering into a time where we will see more open up and more love of the arts,” Wigle said.

Hugh’s Room is registered as a charity and is currently fundraising through Canada Helps to support the purchase of the church before the deal is complete at the end of June.

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Posted: Apr 1 2022 3:11 pm
Filed under: Arts & Life News