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Walking Down Reggae Lane

Toronto, the provincial capital of Ontario, Canada now has a street called Reggae Lane. Located in the Eglington and Oakwood areas of the city, it was renamed late last year under an initiative — The Laneway Project — by councillor for the area Josh Colle.

A major part of the facelift was a mural depicting international and Canadian reggae stars. Visual artist Adrian Hayles, who was commissioned to paint the mural, told Splash that the power of reggae and its impact on Canada is underestimated. The popularity of Reggae Lane has shown the music’s reach.

“The area has now received a new identity with the renaming of this laneway in Eglington and Oakwood. Now you have music videos being shot with the mural as the backdrop and a number of people coming to view and take pictures... it’s a real tourist attraction in the area. Reggae has a rich history in Canada and this needs to be acknowledged and hailed,” Hayles added.

Hayles, who is of Guyanese heritage, revealed that the mural is his fourth major work. Based on his love for reggae he could not pass up the opportunity when asked to do it.

“I grew up in this community and reggae was a major part of my early years. My father was a DJ on a sound system, and so a lot of times I would accompany him along these streets to buy records. As I grew up I also began playing music and so reggae is really part of my being... it’s in my DNA,” he said.

The Eglington and Oakwood area is commonly known as Little Jamaica due to its heavy concentration of residents from the Caribbean country.

Hayles and a band of volunteers took three weeks to complete the mural, which was officially launched with a street party. Canadian reggae act Jay Douglas, who recorded a song titled Reggae Lane, performed.

Hayles said there are plans to expand Reggae Lane with the painting of garage doors which face the mural.

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