comments 10

Better not tell the Mayor…

Or…how to get a busking permit.

I drove up to beautiful East York today, to the East York Civic Centre to get my Toronto busking permit.
Here’s how it works. First you stand in line at intake. This line-up is for any kind of license so buskers have to line up with folks who want a patio license for their restaurant and so on. At intake, you’re asked for two pieces of government issues ID. Then you’re asked what it is you’re after. A busking permit, I say. OK, go sit down and we’ll call you. A short while later my name is called over a loudspeaker. Mister Anchovy to desk 6 please. At desk 6, I’m asked for two pieces of government issued ID. I ask if the same two pieces I showed that last person were OK or did she require two different pieces. She gave me that please don’t be a smart-ass look I know so well, and I forked over the ID. She asked me what kind of busking I planned to do. Musical performance. What instrument. Squeezebox. Huh? Squeezebox. Accordion, you know. Oh, accordion. Do you use an amplifier? I swear on my honour I will not amplify. Do you just play accordion. Well, what if I were to bring out my ukelele one day? Would the long arm of the law come down on my with great prejudice? Just put ukelele on the form. It’s OK, I’m just messing with you. Do you sing? Never. You wouldn’t want that. OK. Step over to the camera. She takes my picture and sends me back to sit down. After a while, my name is called again. Mister Anchovy to cash please. I go to cash. That will be $39. I fork over the dough and she gives me a laminated card with my picture on it that says busker on it and a paper permit. It used to be they only gave me a paper permit. Then they upgraded and gave me a cardboard card. Now I’m so official, I can hardly stand it. Look out Toronto, Mister Anchovy is coming.


  1. Paul

    Does it just have the name below the picture? And what’s on the reverse? I need to counterfeit one of these since I’m in between work permits…

  2. Wow that is amazing.. I didnt know you had to have a special liscense to Busk. but again I have never busked in my life.. but glad you find something in your art you like.

  3. Patience

    Where do you busk? I used to know a busker guy who I met cause his wife was a homeschooler. He had a Klezmer band and his name was Ezra; ever heard of him? (this goes back about 18 years) I think he lives on a Kibbutz now.

    • I busked in Kensington Market for a chunk of one summer, and I’ve busked at St. Lawrence Market as well. This time around, I think I’m going to cultivate some new spots.

      • Salvelinas Fontinalis

        Really, I think you need to present us with a list of potential sites and let us vote. I also think it would be cool to do some totally off the wall stuff. Like bring the girls to a humane society walk-a-dog-a-thon. Tuffy could handle the dogs and you could walk along playing and singing How much is that doggie in the window, you aint nuthin but a hound dog, and maybe the old Everly Brothers tune Bird Dog. That is my idea of fun with music. Or perhaps hang around the yacht club playing wreck of the edmund fitzgerald. Get a bit of fun happening.

  4. They didn’t even give you a lollipop for all that waiting? I cannot wait to hear about your busking adventures, actually.

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