Bruce Cockburn & Toronto: A Historical Tour

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(#4) Direct Song References: The Bloor Street Viaduct

Bloor St. Viaduct

The Bloor Street Viaduct spans the Don Valley Parkway. Its official name -- although nobody calls it that -- is The Prince Edward Viaduct.

Mentioned in the song Anything Can Happen, a darkly humorous look at the temporariness of life, where "anything can happen" at any time "to put out the light":

"You could have gone off the Bloor Street viaduct
I could have been run down in the street
You could have got botulism anytime
I could have gone overboard into the sea
Anything can happen
To put out the light,
Is it any wonder
I don't want to say goodnight?"

The Bloor Street Viaduct has a fairly dark history as a place where quite a few people have jumped to their deaths. A 1997 report from the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario cited the average of one person jumping from the bridge every 22 days. Supposedly 300 people have jumped since the bridge's construction. The city of Toronto has taken measures to thwart further suicide attempts and accidental falls from the Viaduct, such as working with a planning firm to construct a barrier. Costs and red tape delayed the project, but construction was completed in 2002. Pictured above is the bridge as it was when the song was written.

The viaduct is a prominent architectural feature -- basically a two-level bridge more than 100 feet high -- spanning the Don River Valley and Don River Valley Parkway. The top level of the viaduct is Bloor Street, while the lower deck is the Bloor-Danforth subway line.

Built in 1919, the viaduct was designed by Edmund Burke, who also designed the CHUM/CITY TV building on Queen Street (just around the corner from the True North offices and where Cockburn performed the MuchMusic Intimate and Interactive special, premiering 1991's Nothing But a Burning Light).

Michael Ondaatje (the author of "The English Patient") wrote about the men who built the Bloor Street Viaduct in his 1987 book "In The Skin of The Lion."

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.