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Saskatoon honouring hometown icon Joni Mitchell on Sunday Print-ready version

Mitchell, 74, won't be present for naming of walkway and unveiling of plaques Sunday afternoon

by Guy Quenneville
CBC News
June 10, 2018

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The City of Saskatoon will officially rename a riverfront promenade after musical icon Joni Mitchell Sunday afternoon. Mitchell grew up in the city. (CP)

Joni Mitchell herself won't be present Sunday for the naming of a Saskatoon riverfront promenade in her honour.

But the citizens and dignitaries who walk down Broadway Avenue, over Broadway Bridge and then hang a left along the Meewasin Trail to River Landing will essentially be walking in her shoes.

"She actually used to continue on quite often to Riversdale Pool," said Aviva Kohen, director of media at Tourism Saskatoon, of Mitchell's walk through the area during some of her formative years in the city.

"[She said] it had the best jukebox in the city."

According to a biography on her official website, Mitchell, now 74, moved to Saskatoon with her parents from North Battleford when she was 9, and she considers the city of bridges her hometown.

Tourism Saskatoon, alongside the City of Saskatoon, the University of Saskatchewan, local developer Ken Achs and resident Sharolyn Dickson - a childhood friend of Mitchell's - have worked with Mitchell in recent weeks to plan Sunday's event.

Follow our live blog of the event starting at 1 p.m. On mobile? Click here.

"Unfortunately, Joni's unable to travel on Sunday to come to the event but she's been very, very involved in the process," said Kohen. "She's known about all of the key decisions all along the way."

"We will be watching the livestream," Marcy Gensic, Mitchell's assistant, said via email Saturday.

Sunday's schedule

Things will kick off at the Broadway Theatre at 1:30 p.m. CST with the unveiling of a plaque marking the former location of the Louis Riel Coffee House (today Calories restaurant), where Mitchell played in the early 1960s before becoming a star.

She made her first paid appearance at the Louis Riel and played the ukulele during weekly "Hoot Nights", according to the biography.

Participants will then walk down the bridge to the promenade at River Landing, close to where construction of a new condo tower and hotel is earnestly underway.

There, a second plaque will be unveiled at about 2:30 p.m. and the promenade officially named in honour of Mitchell.

'Joni Mitchell Promenade' pitched for Saskatoon riverfront

Public naming process needed for riverfront walkway pitched as 'Joni Mitchell Promenade': group

"It will have some of the lyrics to her song 'River,'" said Kohen of the second plaque.

"Joni was inspired by the South Saskatchewan River. This plaque will be right adjacent to the river where she would sit and be inspired and wrote those lyrics."

Childhood friend to speak

Dickson will tell some stories about Mitchell, Wild Horse Drum Group will perform an honour song and treaty commissioner Harry Lafond will give a presentation.

City councillors unanimously approved the naming of the promenade in April, capping years of efforts by Saskatoon to further honour the singer and one-time city resident.

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Added to Library on June 10, 2018. (5217)


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Bruce Bell on

Joni, I lived in Minot, ND in the '60s and traveled to Saskatoon every summer in early July to fish Strawberry and Cranberry portage area. If I had known then what I know now I would certainly have looked you up and enjoyed your music in those early years.

You certainly have gone on from there to inspire many people with your lyrics, music and art. Thank you.