Crawl Across the Ocean

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Via the Armchair Garbageman1, I see the sad news that Ben Kerr, a fixture busking on the NE corner of Bloor and Yonge for many years (when he wasn't busy running for mayor), has died.

From CP24,
"“Running” Ben Kerr, the busker who made his name singing for his supper at the corner of Yonge and Bloor for over 15 years, has died.

The guitar player famous for his customized T-shirts made a play for Toronto’s top office at least five times. He never won, of course, losing to David Miller, Mel Lastman, Barbara Hall, June Rowlands and Art Eggleton. But he never changed his tune and he always made the race far more entertaining.

Kerr may have seemed like an odd choice for political office, but he was actually quite experienced. Before taking it to the streets, Kerr was an accountant and a former manager and executive with the Toronto Harbour Commission."


"But Kerr was always among his most cherished because of the nature of the man. He was especially fond of one of his compositions called “Let’s Make Toronto Number One”

For more than seven decades, Kerr did just that."

Back when I lived in Toronto for a few years, I passed through Bloor-Yonge pretty much every day and Kerr consistently brought style and (his own brand of) class to what, despite teeming with activity, tended to be a pretty cold, concrete piece of Toronto.

As ideas go, putting a roof on the Gardner2 was pretty much a non-starter but putting in at least a plaque (I'd vote for a statue myself) at Bloor-Yonge in his honour is a no-brainer.

1 Take a look at the Garbageman's post, if only for the hilarious photo.

2 Putting a roof on the Gardner expressway was the central theme of one of Kerr's catchiest (IMHO) tunes. I don't remember the rationale all that well, but it had something to do with the fact that if you were going to put a roof on a baseball field you might as well put one on the adjacent highway as well.

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