The Vinyl Museum: A Collection of Forgotten Times

The Vinyl Museum was located at 355 Yonge Street, from roughly 1985-1990. In the “Night Rides” video posted on the main entry, you can see if nestled right next to A&A and Sam The Record Man. Peter Dunn first started his business with a location in Kensington Market, in 1978, which was home to his beloved cat, whom is depicted in cartoon form on the button and logo above. Thought finding concrete information on this used record store has been challenging, the shop is remembered in accounts from record store patrons of the time, found through web searches.

Blog “thealiengirlplanet“, fondly remembers the gem that The Vinyl Museum was.

“So once again I find myself turning to the past glories of this fair city and reflecting on the marvel that was Peter Dunn’s Vinyl Museum. There has probably never been a store more aptly named. With three locations (all now long gone) this warehouse of delights had to be one of the queerest items ever in Toronto. Packed from end to end with every manner of record and music related bric-a-brac, the store also had a very blatant mission which showed itself on every dust jacket, vinyl sleeve and all too often right on the cover. JESUS! Obviously run by a man of born again interests it was like he realized that this kooky rock and roll business that the kids were listening to was the way to get them back into the church.”

“On any given day you could wander in to the Yonge st or Bloor st stores (and most likely the one in Etobicoke) and find the oddest items, rarities priced like deletes, total pop junk and every so often a strange score like a box of Rolling Stone magazines dating back to 1966 !!! All at super cheap prices. Deleted Funkadelic records still sealed in the days when nobody actually wanted this stuff, every Stevie Nicks record ever released, of course, Jonathan Richman, strange old rock operas from the early seventies, Christian rock… you name it.

I was reminded of how much of a void there really is after I went record shopping. Having spent several years on the east end of town I had the luxury of several good record stores with prices that didn’t always reflect the true worth of the music but all too often you get skinned. Mr Dunn seemingly had no interest in that sort of business. What really drove this home was my first visit to Sonic Boom which could be said to be the only replacement for the Vinyl Museum in some ways although the primary booty here is the CD and not the record but they have recently started in on the used vinyl. The point is – it is an example of a huge store that could be full of the same sort of delights but is mostly empty.

Peter Dunn’s Vinyl Museum is fondly remembered as an alternative to your ordinary record shop. It was unique in not only content, but mission. As aliengirl says, Mr. Dunn seemingly had no interest in that sort of business. He provided music that was alternative from the top 40’s found in a typical music store, and his customers loved him for this. One could find their own unique identity through alternative selections and alternative economics through buying good, used, and off the wall vinyl. To this day, any of his records floating around with bible verses taped to the front, will act as “texts” to preserve his legacy. Though the publics they will encounter may not know exactly the story behind their odd vinyl, they will know that it is something special and different. Though we haven’t gotten our hands on any, vinyl from his shop, or perhaps buttons like pictured above, are the physical evidence left behind once the shop moved out, and the lot was paved down for the new SLC at Ryerson.

Check out this interesting feature from Ryersonian TV about collecting and consuming vinyl.

About Ryerson On Yonge

A course in the Faculty of Arts, we have been studying the history of the neighbourhood around Yonge and Dundas, and Ryerson campus, in order to consider the social context and cultural importance of the new Student Learning Centre, which will occupy 341 through 355 Yonge Street. This blog is not an official Ryerson publication, and is a student-composed analysis of campus and its neighbourhood.
This entry was posted in Coming Together at Yonge and Dundas: Liberation, Subcultures and Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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