Making the Scene

Yorkville and Hip Toronto in the 1960s

Table of contents

PART ONE: Setting the Scene, to 1963

  1. Remaking the Scene
  2. Getting to Yorkville

PART TWO : Performing Yorkville, 1964-66

  1. Riots, Religion, & Rock'n'Roll
  2. Are You Here To Watch Me Perform?

PART THREE : Under Yorkville's Spell, 1967

  1. Village Politics and the "Summer of Love"
  2. Authenticity among the Fleurs du Mal

PART FOUR: Hold it, It's Gone, 1968-70

  1. Social Missions in the Teen-Age Jungle
  2. Toronto's Hippie Disease

PART FIVE: Conclusion

  1. An Immense Accumulation of Spectacles

Where They Landed
Works Cited


Making the Scene is a history of 1960s Yorkville, Toronto's countercultural mecca. It narrates the hip Village's development from its early coffee house days, when folksingers such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell flocked to the scene, to its tumultuous, drug-fuelled final months. A flashpoint for hip youth, politicians, parents, and journalists alike, Yorkville was also a battleground over identity, territory, and power. Stuart Henderson explores how this neighbourhood came to be regarded as an alternative space both as a geographic area and as a symbol of hip Toronto in the cultural imagination. Through recently unearthed documents and underground press coverage, Henderson pays special attention to voices that typically aren't heard in the story of Yorkville - including those of women, working class youth, business owners, and municipal authorities. Through a local history, Making the Scene offers new, exciting ways to think about the phenomenon of counterculture and urban manifestations of a hip identity as they have emerged in cities across North America and beyond.


  • Short-listed, Canada Prize in the Humanities awarded by the CFHSS 2012
  • Winner, Clio Prize (Ontario) awarded by the Canadian Historical Association 2012
  • Winner, J.J. Talman Award awarded by Ontario Historical Society 2013
  • Winner, The Champlain Society Floyd S. Chalmers Award in Ontario History 2012


‘Stuart Henderson has provided a richly layered history of some of the people and cultural trends of Canada’s 1960. ’

- Michael Boudreau

'Making the Scene is a crackling good read. .. Henderson brings historian's eye for detail to the proceedings and also a socio-anthropologist's penchant for primary research, making Making the Scene a compelling and stimulating read. .. A detached, non-sentimental and objective account of Canada's most lively countercultures and the impact that resonates to this day. '

- Zachary Houle

Making the Scene presents a rich variety of contemporary and retrospective depictions woven together with more general ruminations upon the nature of the place, performance, and projection onto the screen of wider popular culture that was, at the time, Canada’s preeminent “hip” neighbourhood…This capably documented and artfully told account of hip Yorkville in the 1960s makes an indispensable contribution. ’

- Mike Mowbray

Brilliantly conceived and engaging, Stuart Henderson's Making the Scene: Yorkville and Hip Toronto in the 1960s, argues that counterculture is performed by actors "within", not outside, of the cultural process. ..This book is a masterful piece about an important episode in Canadian youth culture and ideological history.

- CHA Clio Prize Committee