Mayor John Tory gives rockers Rush the keys to Toronto

More than two hundred people braved damp weather on Saturday to watch Toronto Mayor John Tory presented keys to the city to two members of the rock band Rush.

Art park in neighbourhood of Willowdale named after iconic Canadian rock band

Mayor John Tory (middle) puts his arms around Rush band members Geddy Lee (left) and Alex Lifeson (right) after presenting them with keys to the city. (Twitter)

More two hundred people braved damp weather on Saturday to watch Toronto Mayor John Tory present keys to the city to two members of the rock band Rush.

Tory put his arms around band members Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson after he gave them the keys and congratulated them. The crowd cheered and clapped.

"From Willowdale to the world, the Key to the City of #Toronto is theirs," Tory tweeted. "Congrats RUSH!"

At the event, the city opened a new park in their honour in the neighbourhood of Willowdale in North York. The park is called the Lee Lifeson Art Park.

"They are outstanding musicians. They are successful musicians. They are admired and revered musicians. They are also good, caring citizens," Tory said.

Tory said the band has given much to the city through its music, live performances and support for charities. As an example, the mayor mentioned that the band participated in a concert after the SARS crisis to help raise spirits in Toronto.

"We are really proud to be from this area," Lee said at the event. "We hope this park serves the community in the best possible way."

Lee and Lifeson are founding members of Rush, the iconic Canadian rockers who produced such hits as Tom Sawyer, Closer to the Heart and YYZ. Neil Peart, the drummer behind those wild solos, also will be given a key with his name engraved on it but he was not at the event.

Both Lee and Lifeson grew up in Willowdale where they met in junior high school and have maintained strong connections to the city.

The park, an estimated 7,000 square metres, is located between Princess and Hillcrest Avenues at Gladys Allison Place. It includes a small outdoor stage and amphitheatre. 

Tory said it is hoped the park will nurture young musical talent in the city.
Mayor John Tory praises Rush at the opening of the new Lee Lifeson Art Park in the neighbourhood of Willowdale. (Twitter)

Jacob Moon, a Canadian folk singer, performed at the event. paying tribute to the band.

Musically, the band has been together for some 40 years and sold millions of records worldwide. In 2013, Rush was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In February, Tory gave Drake — or Aubrey Graham — the key at the NBA All-Star festivities. 

Previous bands to get the honour since 2000 were The Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, Blue Rodeo, Sharon, Lois and Bram, Barenaked Ladies and Nickelback.