‘He wanted people to live their best life’: Friend remembers Peterborough business owner Jonathan Hall

Peterborough’s music community is grieving this weekend after the sudden passing of Jonathan Hall, a local DJ and business owner.

“Johnny and I met a Lee’s Palace one fateful night; we locked eyes,” said David Koski, Hall’s best friend of 14 years.

At the time, Koski didn’t know Hall would become his best friend, his confidant, his business partner and, as Koski calls him, his biggest supporter. It was a role Hall really took on, not only with his friends but throughout Peterborough.

“He loved music, he loved people, he loved entertaining. He loved being part of a community, and I think it was just his nature that the way he expressed how he felt and the joy in his life was that he just gave it back to everybody else through his music and his art,” said Koski.

That passion came to a painful end on Friday when Hall, 44, passed away next to his loved ones.

But the Peterborough innovator, DJ and business guru has made a powerful impact on the city.

“Johnny was a pretty amazing guy. I think what endeared a lot of people to him was he gave so much to the community and to everyone, and he never really asked for anything back. He gave a lot of people their start. He believed in a lot of people, including myself,” said Koski.

Hall founded the alternative bar Trasheteria in 1994. It had an 18-year run before Hall, together with Koski, opened Spanky’s in 2009. There, people would come from far and wide to watch Hall spin as a DJ.

Then, in May 2018, Hall opened The Twisted Wheel with his friend Mike Judson, celebrating music and the vinyl craze.

“I like being in a record store and finding something I’ve been looking for ages and that natural feeling you get from finding something. I love the art and touching it and reading the lyrics and lots of things I like about vinyl,” said Hall in an interview with Global News in 2018.

“He was always on that leading edge of music and showing how people can just enjoy themselves with dancing and music,” said Koski.

It was no surprise, then, that Hall went on to found the city’s popular music street festival The Hootenanny on Hunter Street. It has become a showcase for everything local.

“This event is a showcase for local artists, for the pubs and the restaurateurs and the bars,” said Hall in an interview with Global News in 2017.

Hall’s most recent love was Nostalgic Journey, an antique and collectibles shop he had bought with his girlfriend, Kayley Duggan. They took ownership of the store in January 2019.

“I never saw the man so happy,” said Koski.

Unfortunately, that happiness was fleeting, and now the community is dealing with shock and sadness. But in the haze of heartbreak, Koski says there is a lesson that Hall would want the community he left behind to heed.

“He wanted people to live their best life, and if anything can be taken from this sad happening is that we all should just live our best lives and do that for Johnny and for ourselves,” said Koski.

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