The history behind the Horseshoe Tavern makes it one of Toronto’s most crucial venues — they don’t call it the “Legendary” Horseshoe Tavern for nothing. While the venue may be old, its ability to draw new talent time after time has ensured it never became irrelevant.
Founded in 1947 and established as a country music club in the 1950s, the venue hosted outlaws like Edwin Boyd in its early years. In the mid-1970s, the Horseshoe hired Gary Cormier and Gary Topp to book acts, resulting in a run of early punk shows that ended with the legendary Last Pogo, a blowout that featured southern Ontario punk favourites like Teenage Head and the Viletones.
After going out of business for a few years in the early ’80s, the venue found success with roots and country bands like Blue Rodeo and Handsome Ned, while the late ’80s and early ’90s saw acts like the Skydiggers, the Rheostatics and Lowest of the Low establish a new generation of Canadian talent. Since then, the venue has hosted more legends like the Rolling Stones and The Tragically Hip, as well as newer acts like Porches, Iceage and Sturgill Simpson that reflect its roots in new-wave, punk and country music, respectively. The Horseshoe has also supported Toronto’s festival circuit by hosting bands such as Spoon and Benjamin Booker for festivals like North by Northeast and Canadian Music Week.