341 Bloor St. W. Toronto 131, Ontario
"true north strong and free"
| Rochdale was the
home of hippies, utopians, acid heads, exotic dancers, quotient dancers,
bikers, flower children, acid heads, American draft dodgers, Portuguese
draft dodgers, feminists, communards, lost souls, found souls, kids, Krishnas,
irritating primal screamers, irritating ordinary screamers, slackers, slickers,
grifters, grafters, acid heads, and drug dealers of every size, shape, disposition,
and level of intelligence and style.
Rochdale was an 18 floor building housing an entire police-free counter-cultural
community in center of Toronto, Ontario. Rochdale was to Canada what Haight-Ashbury,
People's Park, the Chelsea Hotel, and a dozen other counter-cultural enclaves
were to the United States.
For starters here are contemporary descriptions of Rochdale, a small
album of pictures from Rochdale's prime of life, and a good-natured if
facitious view of a weekly Rochdale class schedule (dating, it must
be admitted, from somewhat after the fact).
Were you a Rochdaleista? They say if you can remember Rochdale, you weren't
there. Check up on yourself by taking Chris Hall's Rochdale
Trivia Quiz. (Even if it turns out you weren't really there, you'll
learn a lot about life at Rochdale.).
Veterans!. There seems to be a growing interest in Rochdale on the part of the contemporary college age population. There's talk of more documentaries and even theatrical films with Rochdale themes. Apart from the glamourous and expensive world of film, there's interest at the scholarly and personal levels as well. During the Fall of 2009 there appear to have been a series of Rochdale themed events at the University of Toronto (see the Rochdale College Facebook page). All very gratifying of course if you're the type who likes to be the center of attention. When I receive open requests for interviews, information, and the like I post them to the Making
Contact page. As of early 2010 there's a request from a person writing a book about Rochdale to speak to "...anyone who wants to
talk about there experiences at the Rock" , check it out.
If you have Rochdale impedimenta that you'd like to see posted at the Museum,
send it to the curator: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRUD = Radio Rochdale
CRUD was the Rochdale radio station. That's me at the console, and the
wax on the box is the Performance sound track. (I don't know whether Margaret
T. and the boys were in town that week or not, it's just been too long).
In the view of the CRTC CRUD was out of control so CRTC authorities tried
to drive CRUD off the air more than once. CRUD had dedicated staff and extremely
dilapidated equipment and played a remarkably strange mix of music, talk, and
Radio Rochdale. Also called: "The Voice of Free
Toronto." I'm not sure, but I think that Brad Keagle coined
that phrase. 92 FM (?). Never got much support from Edcon because a raffish
Rochdalian received a sizable grant which he squandered, and the junk that we
had was what he said he purchased with all of the money. The transmitter was
a gutted .1 watt FM wireless microphone fed into an 8 watt cable system RF line
amplifier that was then fed into a jury rigged antena system with a gain of
about 5, supplying about 40 watts of effective radiated power (erp). They used
to play us in the showroom of "Round Records" on Bloor Street sort of
across the street from the Collanaide.
Tony Terry listens....
Graduating from Rochdale
People could and did graduate from Rochdale
in a variety of ways. One didn't have to come near Rochdale to graduate, but
doing so was considered to show a lack of joie de vivre. Rochdale offered
3 regular degrees (B.A., M.A., and Ph.D) and 3 anti-degrees (Non-B.A., Non-M.A.,
and Non-Ph.D.). To quote from the Rochdale degree application:
"Tuition for the B.A. granting course is
$25.00. Course length is 24 hours, and the degree will awarded on answering
of a skill testing question. Tuition for the M.A. granting course is $50.00.
During this course, the length of which will be determined by the student,
the student will be required to answer a skill testing question of his choice.
For a Ph.D. the tuition is $100.00 and there will be no questions asked.
We are also offering Non-Degrees at comparable rates. A Non-Ph.D. is
$25.00. Course duration is your choice; requirements are simple, we ask
that you say something. A Non-M.A. is $50.00 for which we require you
to say something logical. A Non-B.A. is $100.00; you will be required
to say something useful."
| Of course you could trying paying with the coin of the realm:
Despite being for sale Rochdale degrees were acquired only after real committment;
Chris Hall remembers how he got his in "My Rochdale Retrospective".
For more on the explicit parts of a Rochdale education, take
a look at the printed curriculum, circa March
1969. As for the implicit elements of a Rochdale education, infer,
Rochdale The Documentary
I have some problems with Ron Mann's Dream Tower, the NFB documentary about
Rochdale. For one thing it skips from 1971 to 1975 in less than 26 frames
and we all know that you can only get to the truth at 26 frames a second. On
the other hand, I've just got to approve of anything with Marc Glassman's
name on it (Hi, Marc!).
Reading about Rochdale
There are at least three books about Rochdale and I can't claim
to have read any of them:
Naturally, I'd be interested in hearing the opinions of actual Rochdale
alumni on the merits on these books, which are apparently meant to be
more or less serious attempts at social history.
David Sharpe's Rochdale: The Runaway College
a social history (Toronto : Anansi, 1987; 297 p., ill. ; 22 cm. ISBN: 0887841554)
Brian J. Grieveson's
Rochdale College (Haliburton, Ont : Charasee Press, 19??; 74 p. ISBN: 0919862160)
- Henry Mietkiewicz' Dream tower :
the life and legacy of Rochdale College (Toronto : McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1988;
287 p., ill.; 24 cm. ISBN: 007549597X)
On other literary fronts, take a look at the legendary and inexhaustable Reg Hartt's
"The Night They Raided Rochdale" (excerpt only). Reg Hartt was Director of Cinema Studies at Rochdale.
Parenthetically, Rochdaleistas may remember that admission to showings of Behind the Green Door and similar films was free to anyone who showed up naked and more than a few people did.
Anything worth doing will attract people who think the only
thing worth doing is lugubriating over it. My advice is skip Neil Adelman's
College: Power and Performance,"
Canadian Literature, spring-summer 1997.
In a similar, but briefer and less hysterical, vein,
is Ray Bennett's
"The Jungle Collided with Rochdale College"
from Dossier, Volume 14 #1. And more recently someone who calls themselves "Publius" posted
a glib and superficial comment
"Thirty Years After A Bad Idea" on the neocon blog "Gods of the Copybook Headings". Actually it does my
heart good to see neocons still upset by possibility that ideas like those reified by Rochdale
are not gone for good -- guess what, they're not.
And while we're on things
literary, we may as well connect Rochdale up to the sage of
"Amusing Idiots You Have in this Village"
Patrick Burton writes about meeting Marshall McLuhan
in the SCM bookstore.
Obscure and Far Away
Anyone read Polish? If you do, try out
Krótki kurs rzeczywistos'ci ... and write and tell me about (please).
Still in T.O. after all these years
Donald Holyoak (aka Julian Ayrs) recalls "...I lived on the 6th Floor in 1969.
My "black room" was featured in a
TIME MAGAZINE article which came out that year on the College. Raquel Welch
was on the cover. Gee whiz - being in such celebrated company!!! There was
a shot of me, inside, on my bed.
I am proud to say I got BUSTED dancing on a Police Car that year on
Baldwin Street - and that ROCHDALE College attorney, Clayton Ruby,
represented me in Court. He actually established that the Police caused the
disturbance, and Morley Markson caught the whole event on film - and the
piece (Revolution of the Electric Family) won an award at the Cannes Film
Festival. [i.e., Breathing Together: Revolution of the Electric Family].
Ah, I am in Toronto now. And I don't pass by Rochdale on Bloor without
some FOND memory of the past.
I miss those days.
Oh, I was also published by Coach House Press. Victor Coleman, who
started up the printing company, was a very forward-thinking guy. Glad to
read in the newspaper this past month that he just won a Literary Award here
The Elevator Lobby
Thanks to Scott Avery ('72-'73) we have images of the Rochdale Elevator Lobby, a part of
Rochdale so quotidian that it's easy to forget. Scott's pictures of the Elevator Lobby show
it uncharacteristically empty of teaming humanity, all the better to notice the tension between the
building's underlying institutional austerity and the residents' humanizing efforts.
The LeDain Commission
How many of you realize that a lot of the research done for the LeDain
Commission was conducted right in the halls of Rochdale? Yes,
we take drugs seriously at our house too. For the online version of
the LeDain Commission report
You can try to reach the PodTV video interview with David Malmo-Levine
High Society -- Rochdale College
-- every time I try it I run into technical difficulties.
And while we're talking about chemistry, all honour and compassion to Rosie Rowbotham.
Here's Thomas Mann's 1998 article in Cannabis Culture describing
Read about Rosie at the CBC
Every biological organism endeavors to reproduce itself, spread, split, multiply, or, in a word,
colonize. Rochdale was eminently biological and shot out tendrils willy-nilly. The
most long lasting and conscious of these was the
Rochdale Farm in Killaloe, Ontario (in eastern Ontario, up the river from Ottawa). In the
parlance of the time, this was "moving back to the land." Of course, few rochdaleistas
had been "from the land" in the first place, so moving back was in the nature of a loving
The 14th Floor Commune
I'd like to hear from survivors of the 14th floor Commune ...
Relaxin in the Ashram
711 & 809 Afterhours
"Can I pull the shade?"
"You can pull anything you want in here it's a regular
711 was an afterhours club, located on the 7th floor in room 711.
It was dark, it was sleazy, it was a home away from home for
grifters and rounders. Just as notorious was Terry Flanagan's 809 Club,
with electrocuting pin ball machines and a bar made of a old door and
The Coach House Press
To my mind (and what else counts?) the Coach House Press was the best of
Rochdale. The Right Wing is always talking about excellence, well, here
it is, the National Library of Canadada's
Coach House Press exhibition, including beaucoup Rochdale ephemera.
"Memories of Coach House Press" Nicholas Fabian remembers Coach
House as it was then.
Science & Scholarship
It's in the nature of things that no matter how ineffable the experience, it will find its way into
the annals of science and scholarship (as Celine once said, ".. the madness of the scientist, which
is wiser and more reasonable than any other, is even so the most intolerable ...").
A contemporary psychiatrist speaks; in "An 18-Storey Flophouse" the eminent Dr.
Lionel Solursh explains that Rochdale is "viewed from within as a community and though of from
without as a haven for long-haired, drug-using,
unwashed, welfare-receiving American draf-dodgers." Here one can learn that 53.9% of Rochdalistas
bathed daily and 12.2% never used cannabis.
Meanwhile ancedotal evidence seeped into the sociology literature; Rochdale merits a footnote
(the hallmark of scholarly eminence) in Kenneth Westhues'
"Hippiedom 1970: some tentative hypotheses", where it is claimed that political "radicals"
found Rochdale unwelcoming because the Rochdaleistas would not take them seriously.
In a more recent foray into explaning things, here's an account Rochdale from Wikipedia
(Wikipedia counts as scholarship, doesn't it?). Anyway the CBC keeps Rochdale in its online
Archives. As does the Canadian National Archives in its online collection
Rochdale College And The '60s Counter Culture
Partial scan of the Tuesdaily from March 1974, in all its
(Warning! Some may find some of the content scary, offensive, or titillating)
Before Tuesdaily there was the Rochdale Daily. Thanks to the kindness (and endurance) of its editor, Stuart Roche (late of 802 with Deba Sinha) here a copies of (very) early issues: 27 Sept 1969,
20 February 1970,
6 March 1970,
May Day 1970
How I got to Rochdale
An arrest or indictment is a sure way to begin a new adventure.
At least that's how a lot of us ended up accumulating points toward a landed-immigrant
card. Thousands of young Americans crossed the longest indefensible border in
the world in search of sanctuary from a native land drunk and paranoid with its
own power. Rochdale was one of the places north of the border where we found that
sanctuary. And don't forget, "plus ca change, plus le meme chose."
The story of American war resisters in Canada is one of those
parts of American history destined forever to be neglected where
it matters most (hey, that's what hegemony's for...). For more
information, click on the manual.
As far as I can tell, the only full scale treatment is John Hagan's
Northern Passage, which discusses the social and political context of American
war resistence in Toronto in some detail, entailing a take on Rochdale from a quite specifically
negative point of view; Hagan quotes Douglas Fetherling approvingly, characterizing Rochdale as
"... the most Americanized place in Toronto... a kind of tower of urban decay and social chaos..."
At the same time Hagan is pretty good at fleshing out the history of the Baldwin Street community.
which of course shares more than a little both socially and politically with Rochdale.
(see also Baldwin Street photography, 1967-1974).
Hagan's book is reviewed here
Saying goodbye Groovy Last Issue
That's all the stuff I have lying around right now...