We're proud to showcase queer West Toronto neighbourhoods
WHO WE ARE - OUTexpressions is an online paper, owned by Gay West Community
Network Inc. (Queer West) Who Produces the Annual Queer West Film Festival.
As a courtesy to our festival friends and supporters, we list a few community events
and have provided some community resources since 2001.
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There is one thing you'll notice very quickly in Toronto: the gay culture
is everywhere. The notion of a single "gay neighborhood"
in the city is largely outdated. "We are not like Toronto's traditional
'gay' village with all the sort of conservative and essentialist ideas that
go with that. The Queer West Village is about queer practises, and being, not
about identity and some fixed notion. We are open, younger, non-traditional,
about possibilities and opportunities for connection and collusion, not something
to to be confused with Church Street." ~ Author C. Nash, BrockU.
While Church-Wellesley Village is the center point of the LGBTQ activity, establishments
belonging to homosexual or who welcome them with pleasure exist throughout the
city - especially in the West End, where the "Queer West Village "as
Tourism Toronto now calls it gently, quickly gained a reputation as an alternative
to the panorama of Church Street.There are now 11 gay and
lesbian owned businesses, bars, cafes galleries and restaurants in queer west
central Toronto Ontario. A phenomenal growth for gay owned venues, in the last
Gathered around Queen Street West, between Trinity Bellwoods Park and Roncesvalles
Avenue, the Queer West is the cousin of the Gay Village but younger,
funkier and more connected. You will not find bars "exclusively gay"
but rather several places and events that attract a wide mix of people, gay
to straight open-minded, and all kinds between these two. Queer West, you risk
offending someone by more musical tastes as your sexual preferences.
There are other queer neighbourhoods in Toronto besides Queer West. Church
& Wellesley: The heart of the city's main gay village in downtown Toronto.
(Subway: Wellesley or College) The Danforth also known as Greektown:
A trendy area with lots of gay and lesbian residents as well as gay-owned businesses.
(Subway: Broadview, Chester or Pape) College Street: Little Italy around
Clinton has a decided gay/artsy flair. (Streetcar: College) andLeslieville:
Gay boys and girls in search of affordable homes and starving artists being,
well, starving artists are transforming this gritty neighbourhood with great
restaurants and quirky shops. (Streetcar: Queen east) Church St village
by , Mitchell Thompson, a second-year journalism RyersonU student on Jan 21,
2016 - Their
village or ours? (link correction)
In his book There
Goes the Gayborhood? Author Amin Ghaziani said: “Neighbourhoods often
move, reform and migrate, he says. Toronto’s “Queer West” and Vancouver’s Commercial
Drive are two such examples. Many young queer people may want to live in a gay
area, but they settle where they can afford the rents, even if that means congregating
in — and queering — new neighbourhoods. Ghaziani further theorizes that these
gay-friendly neighbourhoods could eventually become full-fledged gay neighbourhoods
in their own right. If the old gaybourhood was an island, these new models are
archipelagos. These new villages may eventually supersede the older ones, or
they may all coexist.´
The best queer dance parties are no longer on Church St. Started
in 2009, Toronto's Yes Yes Y'all dance parties have become legendary in the
west end of the city, promoting inclusivity for all, regardless of gender, race,
or sexual orientation, and drawing local and international artists and DJs.
Most Popular Queer Hip Hop and Dancehall Party.
Toronto Tourism calls the west end of the city - Queer West Village
The Official Website of Toronto Tourism is now calling the west central part
of Toronto the Queer West Village and the east end as the Gay East Village,
Under the sub-heading Toronto's diversity/queerwest. "There’s one thing
you’ll notice pretty quickly about Toronto: queer culture is everywhere. The
notion of there being a single “gaybourhood” in the city is so last century.
While the Church-Wellesley Village remains the focal point of LGBTQ activity,
queer-owned and queer-friendly establishments can be found all over the city
– especially in the west end, where the affectionately named “Queer West Village”
has quickly been gaining a reputation as an alternative to the Church Street
More commercial and huge tracts of condo gentrification is happening between
1001 Ossignton and 1214 Dufferin on West Queen Street West (Beaconsfield Village).
The bigger galleries like MOCCA have moved to Bockton Village. That part
of the famous artists neighbourhood will disappear in ten years for less for
the hipsters, as the epicentre of gay culture moves West to (old Brockton
Village also know as, Little
Portugal) New enclaves are starting West in the Junction.
Apartment Hunting, In Queer West Toronto rents (Shared accommodations)
are cheaper (Rooms $450+) Bachelors ($575 - $1145) one bedroom Apartments (
$645 - $2200) for the 20 / 30 somethings living, work and playing in the west
village, lots of parks for cruising, to swap spit and bug spray. A lot of younger
people are now using VIEWIT looking for new digs (Pictures, locations, amenities
and price ranges) http://www.viewit.ca/
Zone T4 for west village neighbourhood
West Queen West
There is always something to Ossington, if you do not mind the crowd. Sip your
favorite drink while listening to the choice of the DJ in the first room. Or
join the back room where special shows will give that can be comedy nights,
improvisational theater, film projection, poetic readings, sales of works of
art and other monthly events.
Different atmosphere, The Beaver Cafe 1192 Queen St W., (Which I have heard recently
is now up for sale), which features dances on a different theme each night Of the week.
In addition, every Monday held the Drag Industry Night, which chooses the Drag King or Queen. For more attractions drag-style, but in
a Latin atmosphere, head north to Little Italy where El Convento Rico 750 College Stree is renowned
for its performances of sulphurous Latin drag queens over the weekend.
Looking for something different? This can be a musical at the Lower Ossington Theatre, 100 Ossington Ave, or a live rock
concert at the Bovine Sex Club. 542 Queen St W, And when hunger overcomes you, there is no
shortage of great restaurants, bistros and cafes where making
your choice, offering cuisines from all over the world.
The Queer West Toronto has been home to an underground queer scene since
the 1970's. Long before Vazaleen was started by late artist Will
Munro as queer monthly event in Kensignton Market; The Body Politic Collective
a pioneering gay lib rag born in 1971, came to live not in a gay ghetto on Church
St. but an artists' enclave on Queen Street West.www.rbebout.com/divas/dcarole.htm
(In 1975, the Body Politic created its own owner, the Pink
Triangle Press, forerunner of Xtra Gay and Lesbian Newspaper.) Dark raves,
electro-sexual, queercore, goths, punks, hard rock, metal, and fetish nights
are heldat the Neu+ral 349A College St., Bovine
Sex Club 542 Queen St.W.,Nocturne (formerly Savage
Garden)is Toronto’s oldest goth nightclub, 550 Queen St. W. and the
Dance Cave 529 Bloor St. W. El Convento Rico 750 College Street
was created 21 years ago as a humble, very underground club catering to gays,
lesbians and trans people. Once as popular as La Cage aux Folles but now only
appeals to straight couples from the 905 area outside Toronto
(Public transit: subway to Osgoode station. The shopping strip is about 5
km (3 miles) long but the 501
Queen streetcar runs the whole length. A TTC
day pass is handy for hopping on and off streetcars.)
Music or cinema? Poetry or prose? Minimalism and modernism? The art scene Queer
West is so vibrant and diverse that you'll have trouble choosing. Bursting with
creativity, the area hosts some of the most avant-garde of the city venues of
exhibitions, shows and festivals.
The Queer West Village has the largest concentration of art galleries in Toronto,
including Twist Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. Come and
see the works of emerging artists or confirmed in sumptuous light filled spaces.
There's the likes of Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects
(1086 Queen West), MOCCA Gallery (952 Queen West) which is moving
to 158 Sterling Road in Fall of 2015.
"I feel far more welcome and visible on the Queer West scene. I find
that Queer West holds an attitude that’s quite the opposite to Church St’s —
it encourages queers to come as they are, without fear of having to fit in with
the crowd. Probably as a result the west-end scene is a lot more racially mixed
and there’s more room to express yourself both as ethnic and lesbian."
Pandya, a Toronto Writer raised within a Hindu tradition.
The West Queen West strip (sometimes called “Queen West Queer”) suddenly exploded
with the arrival the ever-so-funky venue/hotel The Drake (1150 Queen
W). The boutique concept rooms have been featured in magazines, on television
and most recently on international flights.
The hip and happening migrate here nightly to be seen or to catch the hottest
acts in the city. A cluster of other equally trendy venues soon opened in the
vicinity, including The Beaconsfield (1154 Queen W),and the gay-owned
Beaver Cafe (1192 Queen W) originally owned Megan Whiten, who sold it
to the late Will Munro and his friend Lynn MacNeil (Lee's Palace manager) in
2006, they turned it into a nightclub and restaurant by day.
In 2010, the Dundas West BIA (Brockton) received funding from the CIty
of Toronto Economic Development department to undertake an Urban Design
Study for the area. The study was carried out by local firm and can be seen
Brockton is one of the fastest growing queer neighourhoods in Gay Toronto.
The above photo was taken June 9, 2015 at the third annual Dundas West Street
Festival, in the old Toronto village of Brockton. Located Between Ossington
and Lansdowne, drawing 50 thousand visitors to eat, shop, and take in a variety
of street entertainment. The event was marked by a rise of makeshift patios
in front of many businesses that don't normorally enjoy and outdoor space, which
allowed thirsty festival-goers to take a load off and enjoy a beverage or two
in the sun.
Toronto gay community is constantly moving. Richard
Florida at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management has consistently
shown that higher concentrations of gay people are linked with economic prosperity,
innovation and creativity within a region.. A new renaissance has started in
old Brockton Village a
romantic peaceful neighbourhood, also know as Little Portugal (Along Dundas
W between Lansdowne Ave and Gladstone Avenue) as it becomes a vibrant alternative
community with recently developed mix of galleries, cafés, restaurants and boutiques
to serve an increasingly visible queer clientele. A cadre of Yuppies are buying
up the row houses from 1887, in the neighbourhood, while prices are still cheap.
Old -school Portuguese families, Chinese or South Asian immigrants, or some
of an ever-growing proportion of artists and young professionals looking for
value or the ‘next’ hip ‘hood. Also see West Queen West’s comment about the
slow emergence of a “Queer West Village.” (Demographics)
Getting around the village; (Public transit: westbound 505
Dundas streetcar from St. Patrick or Dundas station, 63
Ossington bus south from Ossington subway, or 29
Dufferin bus south from Dufferin subway)
Brockton was a genuine village before it was annexed by Toronto in 1884. At
the intersection of Dundas West and Brock Avenue, the former Brockton Town Hall
still stands (as a Scotiabank branch, naturally 1616 Dundas ast. W. ). Way off
in the distance, the skyscrapers of downtown Toronto are visable. A 15 minute
bicycle ride to Yonge and Dundas on a good day.
Queer West Arts Collective live / work offices are located in Brockton Village
(Toronto Ward 18) at the crossroads of Dufferin & Dundas W. As well as the
home to the gay and lesbian newspaper, OUTeXpressions.
Three bars in the North end of Brockton, along Bloor Street W. (Between
Lansdowne and Dovercourt) are attracting their share of queer clientele and
entertainment. The Neon Bar, (647) 748-6366 · 1226
Bloor St W,, the gay owned Steady Cafe, 1051 Bloor St W, Toronto
ON M6H 1M Phone: (416) 536-4162 http://thesteadycafe.com/
and The Baseline Music Bar, 865 Bloor Street W Toronto, (at
Ossington) (416) 732-7513
Salsicharia Pavao (Deli) 1435 Dundas St W is a fixture
in Little Portugal and a longtime Toronto source for imported Portuguese groceries
and freshly prepared meats. Review
Has popularity of the neighbourhood caught the eye of real estate developers?
There's huge new terraced 8-storey mixed-use black monolith, with 90 residential
rental units at the corner of Sheridan and 1544 Dundas Street West, which now
dominates the stretch between Dufferin and Lansdowne Avenue. When developers
move into an arts community, artists move out, this happened at Queen and Dufferin,
which is now a jungle of ugly condos. .Hard to say what the wind will blow into
the neighbourhood. Other than Edenshaw building, things have been fairily quiet
for the last five years
Many new art galleries are springing up weeds along Dundas W. There's Wil
Kucey, LE Gallery, 1183 Dundas W east of Dufferin. Milk Glass Company
& Gallery, 1247 Dundas St. W. http://milkglassco.tumblr.com/
Hosts regular queer events as does Fountain Enterprise, 1261
Dundas St W (416).262- 4986. Owned by Maggy Perry) No web site http://www.blogto.com//fountain
nestled in Dundas St W & Dovercourt. The Fountain is more of a gallery with
a liquor license, than a bar with local art on its walls
Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, 1450 Dundas east of Dufferin Street
and the art store Art Metropole at 1490 Dundas W.. Ms. Bradley, a former curator
of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, was drawn to the Dundas and
Dufferin area three years ago for similar reasons. "I could see what
was going on, down on Queen Street, where the rents were doubling and tripling,
driving the galleries out. ... When I saw this space, I just thought it was
in the right zone." said Bradley West end clothing stores continue
to move north from Queen Street.
Bambi’s, 1265 Dundas St. W.(Dundas and Dovercourt,) 647.351.1100 Owner
DJ Mikey Apples, has been a fixture on the Queen West Queer scene for years
and Bambi's has been packed since opening as a result. Also at this location
beneath is Mr. Flamingo Restaurant. http://www.mrflamingo.ca
Bambi's not your usual dive. Starts jumping at midnight http://www.blogto.com/bars/bambis-bar-toronto
The Magwood Vintage Shop with a careful selection of vintage apparel.
Magwood’s racks are filled with sophisticated, ladylike separates — many from
the ’40s and ’50 Magwood
1418 Dundas St. W., 416-818-3975,
The best gay friendly store in the village is Sun Milk Convenience Store
1547 Dundas Street West South east corner of Sheridan Avenue, 416-531-8580
Owner Silvia Jung, has all of your weekly needs from bread and milk to sewing
your ripped pants to a dry cleaning business. A popular item among her gay clients
are Colt Sweet Cigarillos. Opened around 10 am to 11pm https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000263259652
The only BATHHOUSE outside of Church Street is located in Queer West Village
(Better know as The Tubs) Central Spa (Bathhouse) -The cleanest bathhouse
in the city,populated by mostly older gay men and some curious closet cases
from the portuguese neighbourhood, out for a quicky) 1610 Dundas St. West 2nd
Floor at Brock Ave, two blocks west of Dufferin northside. 416. 588.6191. 15
rooms, 60 lockers (noon-3am, 7 days/wk), regular room: $15, locker: $10 .www.centralspa.ca
Ecuador born artist José
Ortega co-founded Lula
Lounge, 1585 Dundas Street West, with Jose Nieves. Over the years, Lula
has hosted Latin jazz and salsa performers, as well as rock, blues, chamber,
Brazilian and African musicians, and alternative musicians like Metric and Feist.
Dundas West in 2002, was a low-rent zone of bakeries, car garages, sheet metal
and plumbing suppliers and a rash of Portuguese sports bars. "Then
ago, the area had this ugly-duckling vibe," Ortega said. "But
... it felt more authentic, more real, a working-class neighbourhood where artists
and bakers and construction workers and store owners come and do their work."
With the opening of the Alison
Smith Gallery, 1410 Dundas Street West, was the latest sign of the once-homely
neighbourhood's transformation. Grain,
Curd & Bean, 1414 Dundas Street, a high-end cheese shop, specializes in
three things: bread, cheese and coffee. More specialty store than cafe, this
new spot does have some stools by the front window, but, generally, it's more
of a take out spot than somewhere to meet-up, surf WiFi or otherwise pass the
The design shop ofLubo
Brezina who hail's from Bratislava, Slovakia (1659 Dundas St W) creates
furniture from recycled and reclaimed wood.And everywhere artists in Bockton
Village, are inhabiting little bits of cheap space, as their studios and lofts
in other parts of town, are turned into condos.
College Street, two blocks west of Dufferin southside. 416.546.7789 Free
Internet (WiFi) - A hidden gem. Unlike other cafes in Queer
West, that discouage loitering over one latte, this place dosen't mind. It attracts
a fairly artsy crowd of LGBT friends, where everyone seems to know everyone
else, many of whom sip lattes while designing web sites on their Macbooks. Wonderful
spot for cruising, if you come alone. Age group is roughly 20s to mid 40's,
the odd local senior citzen, drops in now and again. Damn good London Fog and
the Cappuccinos are top notch as well, plus they also use organic milk oh did
I mention they have a tea, from Silk Road. Not Wheelchair Accessible though.
Cash only. 10 new stores and restaurants on Dundas West (Blog
TO Hannah Jack / May 31, 2015)
Other places to explore
Queer West Toronto, Ontario boasts some of the most beautiful parkland and
nature trails in the city.High
Park is Toronto's largest greenspace and a beautiful park, with a pond (Grenadier
Pond), a small zoo, and an outdoor stage which houses an annual summer Shakespeare
production called "Dream in High Park." Celebrate our annual Cherry
Blossom Festival with a visit to High Park and participate in the centuries
old Japanese tradition of Sakura Hanami, roughly translated as “cherry blossom
flower viewing”. The spectacular flowering of the Sakura (Japanese flowering
cherry) trees is not to be missed – plan on spending at least an hour wandering
under the blossoms and appreciating the beauty of High Park in the spring
(Public Transit: 506
College streetcars from downtown, Takes you right into the Park. You can
come another way via 501
Queen streetcars have a stop at the south end of the park, by Grenadier
Pond; from downtown make sure you board a westbound streetcar with a destination
sign of "Long Branch" or "Humber" and get off at Colborne Lodge Drive.)
The best vintage clothing stores are in Queer West Toronto - brimming
with unique finds, some dating back to the late 1800s. From high-end and designer
to cheap-and-cheerful rock tees and poly frocks, the variety is almost endless.
Parkdale, Ossington, Kensington Market, and Dundas West (Brockton Village) are
the major epicenters. Visitors from all over the world come to shop for Vintage
There's lots of Festivals going on in the Queer West Toronto during the summer;
Caribbean Carnival (August 1st weekend), Queer West Arts Festival (early
August) Toronto African Dance Festival (mid august); Beer Festival (Fort York
first weekend in August) and Canadian National Exhibition late August early
Great Places to stay for weary travellers
Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St W, 416 531 5042, 19 rooms. Chosen by Travel and Leisure Magazine is one of the world's top 500 hotels in 2006. Rates from $179.00 to $289.00 for individually artist designed rooms. Choose based on your mood swings at check-in time. thedrakehotel.ca
The Old Mill Inn & Spa, 21 Old Mill Road, 416 236 2641. In 1793
the Kings Mill - the forerunner to Today's Old Mill - was built in order to
process lumber for the first homes in Toronto. Rates from $219.00 to $659.00
depending on season. A classic addition to the historic Old Mill Restaurant,
Meeting and Conference facility. On the banks of the Humber River. Right on
the Bloor Subway line. This exclusive Boutique Inn incorporates, 59 beautifully
appointed rooms and suites, together with a pampering Spa. oldmilltoronto.com
Toronto Townhouse- 384 Clinton Street. Toll Free in North America (except Toronto) 1.877.500.0466
Local & outside north America 416.323.8898 Gay friendly. Proud
winners of a Toronto Tourism Award in 1999 and 2000. Your Hosts: Frank & Tan. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is one of two Townhouses we own, and located in The Annex neighbourhood.Queer
West Toronto, Ontario.
Howard Johnson Inn Toronto Downtown West in Parkdale 14 Roncesvalles Avenue and west Queen west,
Each morning, wake up to free Rise & Dine continental breakfast and a free newspaper. Our pet-friendly hotel features
free Wi-Fi Internet access in all rooms. Kids 17 and under stay free with an
adult. Rates from $74.00 to $169.00 depending on season. A five-minute walk to
Sunnyside Beach at Lake Ontario, and includes breakfast In the heart of the Queer West Village Toronto, Ontario. Phone: 1-416-532-9900 Fax: 1-416-532-9440
At the end of the summer, the Queen
West Art Crawl met again the artistic community area for three days of exhibition
and events that highlight local artists. And the arrival of autumn heralds the
return of Nuit
Blanche, in October, which sees Queen West turn into outdoor haven of contemporary
With a lively artistic life uninhibited nightlife and an open atmosphere at
all, it is not surprising that the Queer West Village has become the privileged
place of the LGBTQ community in Toronto.