It's always a treat to see the evolution of Queen West celebrated, like it was today in Metronews.ca. And it's twice as cool to see Drake described as being a player—at least in part—of that evolution.
Hell, let's be frank: it's an honour. But we're just one star in Toronto's creative constellation.
"Housed in a building that's more than 120 years old," writes journalist Ian Gormley, "the Drake has seen a lot of change during its lifetime." That we have. A whirlwind of change, really. Change that we're a little shy to attribute entirely to our own success, though, rather than the ebb and flow of Toronto's cultural respiration—a breath we've simply shared. Would Queen West be what it is today had we never opened our doors? Would there be this dynamic, colourful sense of being at the geographic center of the cultural universe had we never come along?
It's a silly what-if, but it frames a look at that cultural universe in a compelling way. Writers over the years have talked about the idea of "Torontopia," a way of looking at this city as the fertile ground for countless living ideas. Independent music, art, fashion, events like Nuit Blanche—from 2004 to 2014, we've definitely seen more of them in this neighbourhood. But like the proverbial chicken and the egg, which came first? The scene or Drake?
Gormley beautifully answers that by quoting Bill Simpson, our general manager. "There was already a really interesting vibe when Jeff [Stober] bought the building," Bill told Gormley. "He saw the Drake as a convergence of communities, a cultural hub." Rather than doing anything to shepherd that scene into the shine and vibrancy it enjoys in 2014, Jeff saw the area as benefiting from a focal point in 2004—somewhere that everyone from students to artists to writers to neighbours could gather and warm themselves, intellectually-speaking. People were already drawn to the grungy, threadbare beauty of the area as far back as the '90s, with groups like Sloan, Gormley writes, playing some of their first shows in the area. So in a very real sense, we're just like them—cultural beneficiaries of the neighbourhood we call home.
That's why the week of our tenth birthday, from February 14 through the 20th, includes events that reach out to our neighbours in thanks and celebration. We'll have Dance-a-Thons at nearby schools, outreach that recognizes the artistic genius of groups like SKETCH, and other tributes. Like Jeff has always believed about Drake, we're about community—not just the one inside our doors, but outside them, too. The community we're proudest to share.
Read Metro's fantastic article right here. And do come down to join us in celebrating our tenth year on Queen West! Whatever great things have resulted, all we really wanted to do in the beginning was give community and culture a place to play.