Here's a few pix from Buskerfest this weekend. Lots of people but a little disappointing this year. I walked down from College to Dunds with my kids and only saw 3 performers and they were all doing the same thing (juggling machetes and firesticks,etc). There were severe bottlenecks on Yonge when a performance was taking place. They should consider putting the performers on a side street abutting Yonge. Lots more vendors and paid games. It's starting to resemble a mini CNE.
This innocuous looking retirement home at Bloor & Huron was originally Rochdale College, Toronto's most notorious building. To get an idea of how bad it was, read some excerpts from Wikipedia below.
Opened in 1968, Rochdale College was an experiment in student-run alternative education and co-operative living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It provided space for 840 residents in a co-operative living space. It was also a free university where students and teachers would live together and share knowledge. The project ultimately failed when it could not cover its financing and neighbours complained that it had become a haven for drugs and crime. It was closed in 1975.
Rochdale was originally a refuge for idealists. Ultimately, the constituents of its cooperative idealism were its downfall. Dedicated to consensus decision making and granting a vote to everyone who lived (or claimed to live) in the building, Rochdale's governing body was unable to reach agreement to expel those who failed to pay their rents or otherwise live up to its ideals. Unable to pay its mortgage to the Canadian government, Rochdale drifted towards insolvency. As nearby Yorkville became gentrified during the late 1960s, much of Toronto's counterculture moved into Rochdale. This included homeless squatters and bikers who dealt hard drugs, along with a substantial number of undercover officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
According to the CBC Archives, by 1971 Rochdale had become known as "'North America's largest drug distribution warehouse.' Hash, pot, and LSD are in large supply. The Rochdale security force includes members of biker gangs" Hiring the bikers for security in late 1971 was the beginning of the end. Until then there was a strict unwritten code that no one sold hard drugs out of Rochdale. .
CBC Archives also describe how "[d]ue to problems with cops and bikers, the governing council set up a paid security force to be on 24-hour alert. Ironically, some of these security people were bikers themselves. As had happened in Yorkville, an unofficial alliance with the Vagabonds outlaw motorcycle club developed." Rochdale's educational focus and student population declined as the drug business increased.
After increased clashes with police, and unable to pay its mortgage, political pressure forced financial foreclosure by the government, and Rochdale closed in 1975. A number of residents refused to leave. On May 30 the last residents were carried from the building by police. The doors to the college had to be welded shut to keep them out.