Just over three years after a relocation of the flashy Yonge Street icon was announced, the Sam the Record Man sign is set to return to Downtown Toronto this Fall, when it will be installed on Victoria Street above Yonge-Dundas Square. With reconstruction and refurbishment now underway, construction is set to begin at 277 Victoria by the end of the Summer, with the three-month process culminating in a lighting ceremony to re-introduce Sam Sniderman's endlessly spinning records.

The sign above Yonge-Dundas Square, image via City of Toronto The sign above Yonge-Dundas Square, image via City of Toronto

Removed from public view since 2007, the unmistakable—and unapologetically garish—red, black, and neon installation had marked the entrance to Yonge Street's Sam the Record Man since 1969, when the first sign was installed. Another was added in 1987, creating the dominating street-level presence that defined the northeast corner of Yonge and Gould for the next two decades.

The sign in 2005, image via Wikimedia Commons, by SimonPThe sign in 2005, image via Wikimedia Commons, by SimonP

Removed to make way for the Ryerson Student Learning Centre, the sign's refurbishment and re-installation is being funded by Ryerson University, with restoration by Sunset Neon and the Markle brothers—who programmed the original sign in 1969. The refurbishment has already revealed some esoteric details about the signage, which features a gallon can of paint as the central "record spindle." Dating back to 1969, the well-preserved can will live on above Yonge-Dundas Square.  

The sign being dismantled in 2008, image by UT Flickr Pool contributor Jim CagneThe sign being dismantled in 2008, image by UT Flickr Pool contributor Jim Cagney

“This has been a very fun and exciting project for us to work on. It’s been amazing to uncover some of the original design elements, and to see just how well some components have aged,” said Tony Bianchi of Sunset Neon. “We had to come up with creative solutions to address the twin challenges of mounting the signs on top of a building, namely weight and wind. The signs will now feature a louvered panel design, which will permit wind flow—while preserving the iconic look of these famous neon signs.”

The sign at night, image via City of Toronto The sign at night, image via City of Toronto

For the Sniderman family, the iconic signage takes on more personal significance, with Jason and Bobby Sniderman declaring “We are thrilled that the iconic Sam the Record Man signs that symbolized our family business will once again shine upon the site of the original store on Yonge Street. The community and our relationship with Ryerson will be forever illuminated by both the signs and the shining achievements of Ryerson students and faculty whose lives will be enriched for generations to come in the Ryerson buildings that now stand upon our former sites."

We will keep you updated as more information becomes available, and the sign is transported to its new home above the east façade of 277 Victoria. In the meantime, more information about the ongoing plans for Yonge-Dundas Square is available here. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment in the space below this page.