Bruce Cockburn & Toronto: A Historical Tour

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(#12) Performance Venues in Toronto: The Purple Onion

The Purple Onion

Located on corner of Yorkville Ave. and Avenue Road, The Purple Onion was a venue that Bruce performed in often in the late 60's/early 70's. In 1969, Gene Martynec of the group Kensington Market (and future producer of all Bruce Cockburn albums until 1983, minus Inner City Front), who were managed by Bernie Finkelstein, suggested Bernie see Bruce perform solo at the either The Purple Onion or The Pornographic Onion (written accounts differ, though in the June 1994 issue of Gavin's Woodpile, it is related that Bernie said it was the Purple Onion). Bernie was inspired enough by this performance to sign Bruce to his soon-to-be True North record label.

A trivia tidbit: "Universal Soldier" was written by Buffy St. Marie in the basement of the Purple Onion, and the song was later a hit for Donovan. The Purple Onion is now a women's clothing store.

The Purple Onion is not to be confused with another venue once called The Purple Onion, on Parliament Street, which is now a lesbian bar called Pope Joan. It would seem Torontonians had a thing for onions during the 60's and 70's :-)

This page is part of The Cockburn Project, a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The Project archives self-commentary by Cockburn on his songs and music, and supplements this core part of the website with news, tour dates, and other current information.