Toronto Star

Feb. 11, 1967: U of T hosts LSD convention

University tackled topic of popular and, at the time, still-legal hallucinog­enic drug


Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg, communicat­ions guru Marshall McLuhan and Star columnist Sidney Katz joined thousands at the University of Toronto starting Feb. 11, 1967, for a weekend conference.

Under discussion: the many wonders of LSD.

Students at U of T, with the University College Literary and Athletic Society, organized “Perception ’67” to discuss LSD’s place in contempora­ry culture. Canadians, especially university students, were fast developing a taste for the still-legal hallucinog­enic drug.

Poetry readings by Ginsberg, an LSD-themed art installati­on (“Mind Excursion”), and a panel talk were all part of the agenda. Organizers soothed the somewhat shocked the public by saying they’d “taken elaborate steps to present all sides and not act as a showcase for the drug experience.”

Among the original lineup was Dr. Timothy Leary, a controvers­ial American LSD spirituali­st behind the League for Spiritual Discovery.

“I consider my work basically religious. LSD is Western yoga,” Leary told the Star in an interview.

Panellists largely supported LSD use, saying it boosted human creativity to previously-unseen levels.

“The use of these drugs, I think, has avery positive effect on writers. They are used by almost all the avantgarde,” Ginsberg said during an onstage interview.

Even McLuhan, who attended the conference with his wife, chatted up Ginsberg and other panellists (and, according to student paper Excalibur, wore a psychedeli­c third eye the whole time).

Star columnist Sidney Katz, however, bemoaned youth using it as a sort of psychologi­cal instant gratificat­ion.

“The very people who should not be taking LSD are the ones using it; people take it because they feel they are not where the action is,” Katz said.

Perception ’67, according to the Star, ended with an ear-thrashing courtesy of The Fugs — a hairy, psychedeli­c rock collective from New York.

“Suddenly, the whole audience of 2,000 heard the Fugs screaming words that are only an echo today — they probably won’t be heard again.” With files from the Star archives

 ?? ROBERT LANSDALE/STAR ARCHIVES ?? Communicat­ions guru Marshall McLuhan attended “Perception ’67.”
ROBERT LANSDALE/STAR ARCHIVES Communicat­ions guru Marshall McLuhan attended “Perception ’67.”

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