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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Visiting Neil Young's Hometown Omemee, Canada: A Fan's Journey

Visiting Omemee, Canada
Neil Young's Hometown

The following post was submitted by long time Thrasher's Wheat reader sand support Linda S from Virginia. Linda shares her memories of her trip with husband Bob visiting Omemee, Canada to Neil Young's Hometown.

Thanks so much for sharing your adventures with us, Linda!

What is something unique to give my avid Neil Young fan/husband for his milestone 50th birthday? A meet and greet with Neil Young would be the ultimate, but I landed on another idea thanks to information printed by Thrasher’s Wheat.

After reading about Youngtown, a museum in Neil’s hometown of Omemee, Canada, that housed an interesting collection of Neil Young relics, it sounded like the perfect place to explore. As I continued to do research in anticipation of our trip, I learned that the assortment of Neil Young mementos had been moved to the Olde Gaol Museum in nearby Lindsay, Ontario. While I learned that the display had been significantly reduced in size when it moved to its new home, for a true Neil fan, I anticipated any exhibit devoted to Young would be well worth the trip. Since we would be travelling quite a distance to the quaint small town, I contacted the museum to see if they knew of anyone that had a good knowledge of the area when Neil resided there. They put me in touch with Tom, an active member of the Victoria County Historical Society.

Linda, guide Tom & Bob
Youngtown Exhibit, Olde Gaol Museum, Lindsay, Ontario

After many months of planning, we made the trek from Virginia to Toronto. We had never stayed in a bed and breakfast, so I had located beautiful lakefront accommodations just outside of Neil’s hometown. The weather could not have been more perfect. It was sunny and unseasonably warm for mid-March.

A day after we arrived, we met Tom at the museum so that we could be immersed in learning about Young’s early days. In addition to the time we spent admiring all of the Neil Young memorabilia, we were fascinated by the other historical exhibits and the building itself as it had served as the county jail during the 1800’s. Unfortunately we were unable to get any pictures as flash photography would compromise the integrity of the one-of-a-kind keepsakes.

The next stop was Omemee. Blink and you might just miss it. As they say, it was definitely a “blast from the past.” I doubt much has changed with the exception of a few business names since Neil lived there. Our exceptional guide, Tom, had contacted Sharry Wilson, author of “Young Neil.” She recommended that we visit a local shop owner in town to glean some interesting stories.

After walking along The White Bridge over the Pigeon River where Neil fished as a child, we went to the local folk art shop to meet Joan where she shared her personal encounters with Neil. It was so special to be able to chat with members of the community that knew the Young family.

Neil Young's Childhood Home

Just a few feet outside of the center of town, we visited the childhood home of the iconic musician. The modest home had just recently sold to new owners. It appeared that boxes were still being unpacked within the dwelling.
One final stop took us to the Scott Young Elementary School named after Neil’s father, a well-known author throughout Ontario.

As we returned to the museum, Tom surprised us with an amazing framed collage signed by TR, the owner of the items contained within the museum. Tom had also put together an extensive book of articles and maps that directed us to other locations that Neil frequented. He also provided us with souvenirs from the City of Kawartha Lakes.

As this was only our second trip to Canada (the first was to Niagara Falls several years ago), we were truly touched by the warmth and friendliness that we received from everyone we encountered during our trip.

We took the maps that Tom provided and continued our journey to visit a former Young-owned farm at Bland Line in Cavan. From there we went to Pickering/Ajax and visited Brock Road where Neil lived and raised chickens during his youth. We visited his elementary school, Lincoln Avenue Public School and checked out Pickering High School.
As we ventured back to Toronto the next day, we went by the famous Massey Hall, the site where Neil played numerous concerts over the years. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and did not get to visit several other places that Tom had identified within Toronto.

Thanks to Thrasher’s Wheat for the great information provided in the e-newsletters. It prompted us to further investigate the early beginnings of one of the greatest musicians in history and resulted in one of the best vacations of our lives. We will definitely return to Toronto in the near future to complete our tour.

Scott Young Public School

Again, thanks Linda for sharing your adventures! And what a delightful 50th birthday celebration for your husband Bob. (Bob, you've got a real heart of gold woman there.)

Long may you guys run.

For more on Neil Young's Canadian childhood, see the definitive "Young Neil: The Sugar Mountain Years" by Sharry Wilson.

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At 7/17/2017 02:00:00 AM, Blogger Fr Jr. said...

Great story, thnk you. I made a similar journey a while ago, made a short film of it. I didn't visit the Young house out of shyness at turning up unannouced atthe current owners' doirstep! I too met several very nice andfriendky peple, and there was a hardware store that also sold second hand records in the back. I hesr it's closed now, sadly.

At 7/17/2017 04:50:00 AM, Blogger Darren, sunderland said...

i would love to visit this area one day great story

At 7/17/2017 10:43:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Great story, Hope you guys have many more trips together.👍

At 7/17/2017 11:56:00 AM, Blogger Sharry said...

Great to hear that Linda and Bob were able to make the journey and I was happy to be of assistance. It was also cool that Tom and Trevor were also able to hook up with them. I'd just like it noted that Neil attended Lincoln Avenue P.S. for only a very brief period and he never attended Pickering High School. It was Neil's older brother Bob who went there. Neil was too young to attend high school when the lived in Omemee.

At 7/17/2017 02:36:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks to all for comments!

@Sharry - thanks for the fact check! You can always be counted on for accuracy & detail. :) And keeping jive alive in T.O., of course!

At 7/17/2017 06:37:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

@Sharry - thanks for the clarification regarding our visit to Pickering High School. We definitely tried to take in all of the stops that were mapped out for us that had the Young family roots in that area. We have several more locations to visit when we get to return to Toronto. Thanks for working with Tom to make our trip so memorable!

At 7/17/2017 07:56:00 PM, Blogger Tom Mohr said...

Hey, Linda, thanks for the nice words! It was fun touring you and Bob around our little corner of the planet. Mea culpa on the Pickering High School angle. Serves me right for parroting the local mythology(I ought to know better). And thanks again to Sharry for shaping the tour. Hope to see y'all again some time.
Tom Mohr

At 7/17/2017 08:13:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

@Tom Thanks again for your time and hospitality. It was a trip we will never forget and it is always great to be able to meet and bond with other music aficionados. Thanks also to Thrasher's Wheat for the awesome information provided in the e-newsletters. Neil fans are the best!

At 9/18/2018 04:19:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi, Tom Mohr!

Me and my friend will travel between Montreal and Chicago this autumn. We are both huge Neil Young fans playing in a NY tribute band here in Norway (, and we are planning to visit Omemee, Ajax/Pickering and Toronto on our way.

We are wondering if it is possible to get any guiding in Omemee from a person who knows the Neil Young childhood story? Is it possible to hire you for a couple of hours, for example? We will be in Omemee at the 28th or 29th of October.

Best regards,

Vidar Lynghammar
+47 416 81 710
Oslo, Norway

At 2/19/2020 11:50:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

@Sherry Pickering and Omemee are actually about an hours drive from each other. I believe that Neil lived in Pickering before his parents divorced and he moved to western Canada with his mother

At 4/29/2021 08:42:00 AM, Blogger Cas said...

Obviously there's an ongoing interest in visiting Neil's Canada by fans from overseas. Is there a guide book that lists all the places and locations?


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