The Riverboat. Coffeehouse in Toronto's Yorkville district. Seating about 100 in the narrow basement of a house at 134 Yorkville Ave, it was opened in October 1964 by Bernie Fiedler and became the best-known coffeehouse in Canada. Fiedler ran the Riverboat until 1977, by which time it was the sole remaining coffeehouse in the area. Under successive changes in management it continued until 25 Jun 1978 as the Riverboat and was revived from August 1978 to mid-1979 as the Ship of Fools.
The Riverboat was the showcase in the late 1960s for numerous emerging Canadian folk-inspired performers, including Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, Gordon Lightfoot, Murray McLauchlan, and Joni Mitchell, many of whom Fiedler presented in later years at Massey Hall. Most major US folk performers of the day also appeared at The Riverboat. According to legend, several songs that would become popular, including Mitchell's 'Clouds' and Phil Ochs' 'Changes' were composed in the club's upstairs backroom.
Fiedler (b Berlin 8 Dec 1938) has also worked in artist management, 1972-81 in partnership with Bernie Finkelstein (handling Cockburn, McLauchlan, Ronney Abramson, Dan Hill, and others) and thereafter on his own (handling Hill and, for varying periods, Liona Boyd and the Canadian Brass).
See also TORONTO FEATURE: RIVERBOAT.