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Juno-winning subway musician appeals for return of missing 'piece of history'

Last Updated Sep 26, 2018 at 7:13 pm EDT

He’s no stranger to the stage and erstwhile Juno-winning Edward Bear guitarist Roger Ellis still performs for thousands almost daily — as a licensed TTC musician for over 20 years.

But the music abruptly stopped on Monday when Ellis’ guitar went missing from the Fairview Mall parking lot.

Ellis says he packed his gear into his car near Don Mills station after he had finished busking for the day. He had already driven all the way home to Scarborough when he discovered his guitar was not in the trunk.

Realizing he had left it behind, he drove back to Fairview but the guitar was nowhere to be found.

After having no luck with TTC and mall security, his daughter Rebecca posted a plea on Facebook to help her father, with TTC spokesperson Stuart Green echoing the call in a tweet.

Rebecca tells CityNews they have also contacted police and were told a missing item report needs to be filed in person.

The guitar has been with Ellis for 14 years and holds tremendous sentimental value for him and his family. Rebecca says its worth goes far beyond the material.

“He’s a musician and that’s been his passion his entire life,” she says. “Music has been a huge part of my life, a huge part of his life, a huge part of our family’s healing from the things that we’ve gone through.”

Rebecca Ellis speaks about the sentimental value of her father’s guitar.


Ellis’ other daughter Jennifer says they were raised by him after their mother passed away when they were young.

“We were the richest poor kids in the world, because my dad always made our lives so rich through his gift of music,” she wrote in an email.

“Musicians are healers. Music heals people and that’s our job,” says Ellis in an episode of the web series Subway Stories.

Ellis also has a regular gig at a Parkdale farmers’ market and is also very active in the community — playing music for seniors at nursing homes as well as school children and dressing up as Santa during the holidays to spread joy and cheer.

“This guitar has been a lot of places,” he told CityNews. “When you play guitar for a long time you develop a relationship with it. It’s like a carpenter with his tools. What am I going to do without my tools?”

Roger adds that music is an integral part of his life and who he is.

“Music is very very important to me. It keeps my mental health in check. It’s vital. If you’re a musician, you gotta play,” he says.

Watch raw video of Roger Ellis playing on his original Martin guitar used on the Juno-Winning track The Last Song by Edward Bear.

“When this musical instrument was taken it just broke our hearts as a family … this guitar is our memories, our family, his memories, his music, his life. That’s his guitar.” says Rebecca.

The missing case contained the Japanese-made Takamine guitar as well as items from Ellis’ father, custom guitar picks and his TTC musician’s licence.

To the person or persons that may have taken it, Rebecca pleads for its return, no questions asked.

“It’s home is with us … just please return it and bring that piece of history back to our family”