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April 2010 Email this to a friend


With one of the country's most vibrant gay districts, it's no wonder Toronto is on top.

By Staff reports


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NOTE: NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded article on Toronto click DailyXtraTravel

Founded in 1793, the city originally known as York was populated by many fleeing Loyalists from the United States. Resentment lingered for some time after US forces raided and pillaged the community during the War of 1812. In 1834, the city became known as Toronto, from tkaronto, the Mohawk name for the narrows.
Growing rapidly since the end of the 19th century, metropolitan Toronto now has over five million people. Almost half the city's residents were born outside Canada, making this a multicultural as well as an economic powerhouse. Ranked among the 14 most visited world cities, there's plenty of gay life and lots of businesses competing for the pink dollar.

The Gay Village, around the intersection of Church and Wellesley, contains many sophisticated bars, cafes, and restaurants. There's an interesting street scene of guys and girls strolling up and down the sidewalks, particularly on Church Street. Take advantage of the window seats at any of the bars or grab a table at the many patio restaurants to watch the passing parade. The increasingly gay West Queen West, (start your explorations at the Gladstone Hotel), is a vibrant district mixing together all kinds of young, creative and alternative types.

Bent Inn (107 Gloucester; 416-925-4499) leather- themed guest rooms.
Cawthra Square Inns (514 Jarvis; 416-966-0013) luxury at three properties.
Bearfoot Inn (30A Dundonald; 416- 922-1658) four-story guesthouse, steps from Church and Wellesley, private baths.
Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen W; 416-531- 4635) in Queer West, boutique hotel, 37 artist-designed rooms, bar.
House On McGill (110 McGill; 416-351- 1503) longtime favorite, straight/gay clientele, mostly shared bathrooms.
Hyatt Regency Toronto (370 King; 416-343-1234) convenient downtown hotel.
Isabella Boutique Hotel (556 Sherbourne; 416-922- 2203) landmark building, cozy rooms.
Marriot Courtyard (475 Yonge; 416-924- 0611) gay area, full service hotel, free internet.
Neill Wycik (96 Gerrard E; 416-977-2320) student residence, individuals and groups, summer budget rates.
Toronto Marriott Bloor (90 Bloor E; 416-961-8000) sophisticated shopping quarter hotel, walk to gay bars.
Town Inn Suites (620 Church; 416-964- 3311) kitchens, work spaces, living and sleeping areas.
Sutton Place Hotel (955 Bay; 416-924-9221) European elegance, rooms and suites, near gay attractions.
Victoria's Mansion (68 Gloucester; 416-921- 4625) affordable rates, private baths.

Bars & Clubs: Gay Village
Black Eagle (457 Church) bi-level leather, fetish and cruise bar, patio, barbecues, bear and naked nights.
Churchmouse & Firkin Pub (475 Church) central location, pub ambiance, summer patio, comfort food, many beers on tap.
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander) innovative theater productions, bar after 10:30pm Friday and Saturday.
Byzantium (499 Church) upscale crowd, mixed ages, martini bar and restaurant, weekend DJs.
Gladaman's Den (502A Yonge) nightly live entertainment, bears, drag, smoking patio, summer barbecues.
Goodhandy's (120 Church St) queer pansexual playground, live sex on- and off-stage, porn stars, hot DJs.
Lola (7 Maitland) stylish downtown cocktail lounge.
O'Grady's Tap and Grill (518 Church) cozy pub and restaurant, fireplaces, patios, Friday night bears.
Pegasus On Church (489 Church) upstairs neighborhood bar, games galore, pool tables, big TVs screen sports and gay-faves.
Play On Church (504 Church) cabaret and piano bar, daily bingo, classic drag, younger Latin weekend dance crowd.
Remingtons (377 Yonge) male strip club, private encounter booths.
Sailor (465 Church) next door to Woody's, in heart of gay village.
Woody's (467 Church) city's busiest bar, cavernous complex, view of street, hot men shows, bartender hunks.

Bars & Clubs:
Bars, West Queen West
Baby Huey (70 Ossington) mixed crowd of hipsters and expats, casual ambience, good local DJs.
Beaver (1192 Queen West) popular diner and bar, perfect paninis, great evening music, patio, diverse crows.
Dakota Tavern (249 Ossington) country music bar, live performers, burgers and chili, Sunday brunch.
Levack Block (88 Ossington) vintage bar, brunch and dinner, energetic Wednesday to Saturday after- dinner dance club.
Melody Bar at Gladstone Hotel (Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen West) 1930s-era decor, piano bar, live entertainment, ballroom dance parties.
Mitzi's Sister(1554 Queen West) mixed space for lunch, brunch, dinner, burlesque, live bands.
Naco Gallery Café (1665 Dundas West) authentic and spicy Mexican food, art gallery, third Fridays Latin dance party.

Dance clubs
Barn (418 Church) big space, underwear parties, top-floor dark room, after-hours dancing.
Comfort Zone (484 Spadina) Sunday after- hours dancing goes on well into Monday.
El Convento Rico (750 College) gay, straight, tranny mix, hot and sweaty Latin dance club, legendary drag shows.
Fly (8 Gloucester) warehouse-size club, great sound and light systems, local and guest DJs, open late Saturdays.
Straight (553 Church) queer house/electro dance lounge, boutique nightclub, champagne bar, sleek modern decor.
Wrongbar (1279 Queen West) huge dance floor, serious DJs, first Fridays queer hip-hop party.
Zipperz (72 Carlton) piano lounge, classic drag cabaret, secluded patio, inner dance club.

Adam & Eve Chocolatier (97 Maitland) magical realm for cocoa and coffee treats.
Baskin Robbins (536 Church) cones, sundaes, shakes, and frozen yogurt.
Byzantium (499 Church) chic martini lounge and restaurant, glass front opens to summer patio.
Cafe California (538 Church) relaxed Mediterranean-fusion restaurant.
Churchmouse & Firkin Pub (475 Church) daily specials, pub-style fish and chips, savory pies, pleasant patio.
Commensal (655 Bay) vegetarian-vegan heaven, hot and cold buffets, breakfast from 7am.
Fire On The East Side (6 Gloucester) southern- inspired cooking with global flair, wine or before-club cocktails.
Fuzion (580 Church) top-tier restaurant, garden oasis, fine dining in great mansion, nightly events, celebrities galore.
Hair of the Dog (425 Church) upscale neighborhood pub, patio, varied menu, generous servings, late hours.
Il Fornello (491 Church) famous for wood-oven pizzas, a special Village feel.
O'Grady's Tap and Grill (518 Church) breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, homemade pub grub, packed patio.
Old Nick (123 Danforth) live music, pub fare and comfort food, many beers on tap, patio, organic weekend brunch.
Olympic 76 Pizza (8 Gloucester) Italian specialties, tasty pizzas and panzarotti.
Sambucas On Church (489 Church) two-level Italian restaurant and cocktail bar.
Veda (506 Church) healthy Indian eatery, take-out menu, budget prices.
Voglie (582 Church) art-deco lounge and restaurant in Victorian mansion, seasonal patios.
Zelda's (692 Yonge Street) recently moved, with drag shows and dining, weekend theme parties, and fantabulous happenings in heels, with popular patio.

Saunas & sex clubs
Club (231 Mutual) outdoor pool, Sunday barbecues, discreet mansion location.
Cellar (78 Wellesley) subterranean recess, famous for exceptionally dark ambiance.
Spa Excess (105 Carlton) glass and tile wet area, big whirlpool, videos, sling, St Andrew's cross, bar, rooftop sun deck.
Steamworks Toronto (540 Church, 2nd floor) gorgeous steel and glass design, full gym, steamy amenities, 18- plus crowd.
St-Marc Spa (543 Yonge, 4th
floor) complete bathhouse facilities, theme spaces include sling, leather,orgy rooms.

L3 Fitness (9 St. Joseph) gay body factory, cardio funk, kickboxing, Pilates, yoga, spinning.
YMCA (20 Grosvenor) gayest of the YMCAs, first- time visitors get in free, gym, pool, sports facility.

Glad Day Bookshop (598A Yong) famous queer icon, gay literature, periodicals, videos, music and novelties.
Northbound Leather (586 Yonge) world of fetish fashions, leather clothing, lingerie, kinky gear and accessories.
Priape (501 Church) big sportswear, leather, rubber fashion boutique, sex and fetish toys, magazines and videos.
Stag Shop (449 Church, and 239 Yonge) and Love Shop (489 Church) are adult retail stores in the gay neighborhood.

Local media
About, glossy magazine about gay entertainment and lifestyle.
fab, biweekly magazine, covers gay scene from nightclubs to galleries, fashion to music.
Queer West/Inside Story, news, reviews and listings from the other side of Toronto.
XTRA!, news, commentary, events, listings, arts, classifieds, photos, online links and forums.

Getting here

Pearson International Airport has express bus service for $20 in Canadian currency. It's just over $5 on the city's public transit system.

Getting around

The TTC and Go transit systems have buses and subways that cover the metropolitan
area and connect with other regional systems. Multi-ticket and day pass plans are available.

Event planner

Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival
Annual screenings, this year May 20-30, 2010

Toronto Pride
Lots of parties and events culminating in a parades, music stages and street fairs across a dozen blocks of the Gay Village.
June 25 - July 4, 2010

Toronto Fringe Theater Festival
June 30 - July 11, 2010

Queer West Film Festival
August 14, 2010

Church Street Fetish Fair
Took place in August 2009
For 2010 dates check their website

Halloweek Toronto
Weeklong celebration closes down Church Street for tricks, treats and lots of eye candy.

Mr. Leatherman Toronto
Big, wild, euphoric annual leather celebration; one of the best of it's kind in North America.
November 25-28, 2010

Toronto's top experiences

It takes a village.The Gay Village, around the intersection of Church and Wellesley, contains many sophisticated bars, cafes, and restaurants. There's an interesting street scene of guys and girls strolling up and down the sidewalks, particularly along Church Street.

Go west, young man.The increasingly gay West Queen West, (start your explorations at the Gladstone Hotel), is a vibrant district mixing together all kinds of young, creative and alternative types.

Island boy. Take the ferry from Harbourfront to Toronto Island. In summer, check out the gay beach at Hanlan's Point.

Play and stay. Take a weekend theater trip to either the Stratford Festival in Stratford or the Shaw Festival at Niagara on the Lake.

Rub-a-dub-dub. Toronto gays fought to keep their bathhouses open (police wouldn't dare harass them now) and the selection today is most impressive.

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