In 1974 an invitation from Del Wilks, a concert promoter, to Winston (Merritone) Blake and his brother Trevor, to play in Canada for the first time at the renowned Masonic Temple on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto, was a resounding success. That event drew a capacity audience.
Music lovers and fans who have been following the iconic disco in Jamaica, and who reside in Toronto, were out in large numbers. In addition to those who have been hearing about the Mighty Merritone Disco, many were having the opportunity of seeing him in person for the first time. That first trip developed into an annual visit to Canada, mainly to Toronto, a city Blake has described as his second home.
Among the organizations which began requesting the services of Merritione Disco was his alma mater, Kingston College. Others included Excelsior High School, Calabar High School, and several other organizations hosting a function on a Saturday, and followed it with a boat cruise the next day, which normally attracted a capacity crowd.
On a few occasions Blake donated his services to the Jamaican Canadian Association. Now a room bears his name as a tribute for the charitable work he has done for the organization. Some of his annual Canadian events were the Merritone Music Carnival, held at some of Toronto prestigious hotels. They included the International Plaza and the Sheraton Hotel in Richmond Hill. He also played on Lake Ontario Boat Cruises and on the Enterprise 2000. These are some of the annual events held over the Caribbean Carnival Holiday Weekend in August.
Winston Blake made a great impact and contribution as an ambassador to Canada of Jamaican music over the years. The untimely passing of this Jamaican music icon in February 2016 was a great loss to his fans internationally. And he will leave his Canadian fans with lasting fond memories of the times he spent entertaining us.
In his honour Jam Town Promotions is organizing the Winston Merritone Blake Memorial Gala. It will be held on Sunday, August 6, 2017,at The Crown Plaza Airport Hotel, 33 Carlson Court, in Toronto. The reception will be from 7.30 p.m.- 9.30 p.m., followed by superb entertainment and Caribbean menu. The live performers listed to appear at the event include Canadian songbird Liberty Silver, keyboard artiste Eddie Bullen, comedian Maliaka Bryce, and Stranjah Cole, a ska and reggae legend who recently played to a capacity crowd at Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto at a Canada Day celebration.
Dancing will be from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Among the discos that will be supplying the music for dancing are Lloyd Coxsone U K # 1Vintage DJ, with special guest Monte Merritone Blake and Eugene Psycho Soul. The event will also be honouring some of Toronto’s reggae music icons. Among them are JoJo Bennett, Stranjaah Cole and the late Jackie Mitto. Donations to The Winston Merritone Blake Foundation Charity Organization will go to the support of
primary schools in Jamaica.