Tourism Toronto | Gay Toronto -
Queer West Village
2015 Queer West Film Festival Promotion Video
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shared with permission from INspired Media
Tourist Guide to Queer West Toronto neighbourhoods
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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is largely outdated.
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
we called it gently, quickly gained a reputation as an alternative to the panorama
of Church Street.
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.
With an abundance of restaurants and trendy style bars, shops and avant-garde
art galleries - not to mention some super-hot spots for nightlife - Queer
is an absolute must for all visitors the city. The obvious difference is unlike
Church Street, in the Queer West Village, there no gay community center, a
row of gay bars and lamposts fastooned with rainbow flags, you could drive
through it and wouldn't know it was here. It is chock full of young gay and
lesbians couples, living in Parkdale, Roncesvalles, Brockton and Trinity Bellwoods.
Many who are DJs, musicians and entrepreneurs.
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)
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.´
While the Queer West End of Toronto is not a designated tourist area
like the traditional gay district around the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood..
Safe yes, if you keep in areas mentioned in this article. There hasn't
been gay bashing, in 30 years, not since school teacher and librarian Kenneth
Zeller, was kicked to death in Parkdale's High Park by five youths in 1985.
Which was made into a play called Steel Kiss. While Toronto Parkdale is a working
class gritty part of the city (Some jokingly refer to it as Crackdale) Here
you will find all races, genders and sexualities, old, young, rich and poor
living side by side.
Like a fabulous herd of reindeer gays and lesbians are moving
out to live, work and play in the new queer districts in the city.The best
known of these districts is the newly claimed 'queer arts' neighbourhoods emerging
on Queen Street West (Trinity Bellwoods/Parkdale) and to some extent
on Dundas St. W (Brockton Village) in west central part of old Toronto.
How Queer West Village got it's name?
In 2001 Michel F. Paré, a west end Parkdale resident made up the name Queer West
Village, having lived in Parkdale most
of my his life. "I could see small pockets queer entertainment beginning, some
straight gay friendly, others gay owned." Paré said. The question in his mind was how to
together. He established a small community group, which was called Gay West Community Network, then set
about listing all the venues that he knew would be welcoming safe places and
began promoting their events. Unlike Church Street there's LGBT community
centre hub, it may not need one. With a group of friends Paré, hosted and
produced very small Pride Toronto
West in 2001, with no association to Pride
the festival had
various names, over the last 15 years; Parkdale Pride Party, Queer West Fest
until it finally became Toronto Queer Arts and Culture Festival in 2008 now managed by a Board of Directors.
Church and Wellesley special business interests and Tourism Toronto resisted
the idea that anything could exist beyond the traditional gay village. 14 years
Tourism has devoted an entire page on the neighbourhood, to how great it is
to come here and have some fun. So do yourself a favor: shuck those glossy,
brochure vision of soul-sucking Ma and Pa merriment, and instead embrace the
edgy, artsy, booming Queer West
Toronto, that has room for everyone: hot, indie music scenes, celebrity-chic
shopping, all-night dance parties and an über-cool mixed crowd. Other news stories on the Queer West Village
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 are staying put for now. 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 (Parkdale)
and North 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
which chooses the Drag King or Queen. For more attractions drag-style, but
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 held Velvet Underground 510 Queen St. W., Neu+ral 349A College
St., Bovine Sex Club 542 Queen St.W., 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) and Gallery
TPW (56 Ossington)
"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.
Brockton Triangle Neighbourhood:
View from Dundas W at Lansdowne. Looking East towards downtown Toronto.
One of the fastest growing queer neighourhoods in Gay Toronto. In the photograph
to the right stands St Helen's (Portuguese Roman Catholic Church) which sits
as beacon on Dundas W, as one nears the bridge over the CN railway tracks further
west. East down the street is a rightwing Pentecostal Church. It's doubtful
either of the churches, know they are sharing the neighbourhood with the gay
community and likely don't care. The gay community certainly spends big bucks
at their annual yard sales.
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 & Culture Centre 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
The popularity of the neighbourhood has caught the eye of Real Estate Developers
in 2012. 1544 Dundas Street West Development plans a mega structure at the
corner of Dundas W. and Sheridan Ave, now a empty lot for past 3 yrs, next door
to former lesbian/trans nightclub The Henhouse which went out of business June
30, 2015. The developer is proposing to build a mid-rise, 8 storey building
housing 87 units (20,000 square feet) with retail space on the ground floor.
The development will also include 2 levels of parking and require further remediation
of the site. The height limit currently is 45 meters.
Many new art galleries are springing up weeds along Dundas W. There's Wil
Kucey, LE Gallery, 1183 Dundas W east of Dufferin. Then there's loop
Gallery, 1273 Dundas St. and Alison Smith Gallery, 1410 Dundas Street
West. Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, 1450 Dundas east of Dufferin Street
aand 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.
Two new restaurants opened up in March 2012 The Federal, 1438 Dundas
St. W., 647-352-9150 Review
and a few doors way is Midfield Wine Bar and Tavern, 1434 Dundas St.
W., 647-375-7005 Review
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 Sylvia 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
Chef Nathan Isberg at the Atlantic Restaurant 1597 Dundas St. W. Phone
Number: 416-219-3819. Nate left behind more jaded Queen Street West when he
took over this Portuguese tavern. Now it’s affordable, earnest and rich in character
– which pretty much sums up the hood.
TWO BATHHOUSES are in the Queer West Village (Better know as The Tubs) There's
the 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.caIf your into old world charm. Then take a Shvitz! at the Oak Leaf Steam Bath,
founded n 1941. 216 Bathurst St at Queen W. T: 416-603-3434 Facilities:
Two large ancient semi-dry saunas, one small renovated steam room, on 3 floors,
37 rooms. Hours:24 hours, except Tuesday, when it opens at 5 pm. Best times:
Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. Rooms: $12 for four hours or $20 for
over night. Lockers $12 for 12 hours. Cruisiest Spots: Top floor. * Wheelchair
Accessible: No. No Website.
Ecuador born artist José
Ortega (Link correction (03/22/15) 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 village is home to Dundas Street West hotspot OMG Baked Goodness
1561 Dundas St W. (647) 348-5664. The shop will first catch your eye with its
striking pink and brown sign, Elk antlers in the window, and graffiti adorning
1602 Dundas West at
Brock Avenue. bar doesn’t have a name. It changes everyday promoting that
evening’s event.. Weird, but that’s cool. Step inside, and its a sweet little
spot. Everyone inside is cool, NO pretentiousness or anything. People are definitely
down to have a good time, and there is ZERO pretension. Jeans, ball caps, high
heels, and sneakers. Anything goesat 1602. The crowd varies in age, and all
seems to be pretty nice. We have found that people wander along Dundas West
looking for interesting people to meet, good music this is the place they hang
out at most. Queer West Fest and Toronto Gay West Bicycle Club meets here.
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
Eco friendly green space Bike ride along the Martin Goodman (Waterfront) Trail
-Mississauga to Toronto Lakeshore or at the annual Toronto Pride Ride. as a
guest with the 160 member Gay
West Bicycle Club.
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;
Scotiabank 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
IF YOU COME
Toronto’s Pearson International Airport has service on nearly every major airline. Toronto is also severed by VIA Rail. As well, it’s within easy driving distance of many eastern Canadian and US centres. Over View of The City of Toronto, Ontario
Beaver Café, 1192 Queen Street West, 416 537-2768 Gay owned – Serving healthy creations during the day and providing queer entertainment at
night. Complete meals for around $10.00. Check local listings for evening events
Cure & Deli Restaurant. Gay Owned 1484
Dundas Street West at Dufferin, Street Parking only. Farm To Table Eatery Quality Canadian Food,
made from scratch with local + organic ingredients, and naturally raised
meats. The pulled pork was reviewed by Toronto Life as the best pulled pork
sandwich in Toronto. Licenced, Brockton Neighbour Queer West Toronto, Ontario (647) 725-5550
There are now over 70, safe friendlyBars,
Cafes and Restaurants, where owners, welcome all orientations. There have
been no reports of gay bashings since 1978. For travel visitors,
there are now over
200 events in theatres,cinemas, galleries, bars, cafes, Restaurants and
the community every day of the week, in Queer West Toronto, Ontario.
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 email@example.com
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 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche,
in October, which sees Queen West turn into outdoor haven of contemporary art.
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.