Canada's gay capital
NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Ottawa article click DailyXtraTravel
The gay scene in the capital of Canada may surprise you. The city's cute gay boys and girls are just part of the reason why!
Ahora (307 Dalhousie St) in the Byward Market is a gay-owned restaurant with the best Mexican food around, including burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, plus excellent margaritas.
The Buzz (374 Bank St) has New York bistro ambience with brick walls, high ceilings, intimate dining, and high-back banquettes for lounging with wine or martini. Sample tapas selections and Mojitos on Thursday. Friday and Saturday evenings are packed as people rendez-vous and over cocktails. Open daily at 4pm, they serve Sunday brunch 10am to 3pm.
Find action on every floor of the long-standing Centretown Pub (340 Somerset St West) for men. The main floor lounge is where the regulars hang out around the pool table. The back terrace and sidewalk seating in front are popular too. On weekends upstairs there's dancing at Cellblock; plus Friday night drag shows with Dee Dee Deelite, and the city's only men's leather and fetish nights from the Ottawa Knights, on most second Saturdays. Silhouette is CP's weekend piano and lounge bar, with karaoke and live bands.
Edge Club and Lounge (212 Sparks St), Ottawa's biggest gay nightclub has Friday drag shows and contests, Saturday dancing, Sunday cabaret, and a Summertime roof-top patio.
In the trendy downtown Byward Market cafes and boutiques abound. Here at the center Lookout (41 York St, upstairs) is predominantly gay but straight-friendly, with a balcony overlooking the market and pool table in the rear. Barmen are adorable, as are the Thursday Men's Social dancers. Women's Social Fridays, Saturday drag shows, and Sunday karaoke fill out the week.
The Mercury Lounge (56 Byward Market Sq) is a live music, poetry and arts venue, with popular Wednesday Hump night drag shows.
One of the ubiquitous coffee shops Second Cup (290 Bank St, at Somerset) is the official hangout of the Ottawa Bears (OursOttowa in French). Sunday 3-5pm is the best time to make contact and find out about their bowling dates, bathhouse frolics and brunch get togethers.
Swizzies (246 Queen St) has a free-wheeling mix of all kinds of people, fast internet connections, live music and poetry readings, drag shows and dancing; plus the best karaoke in the city.
For sauna action these clubs are open 24 hours.
Club Ottawa (1069 Wellington) has a renovated steam room, and dry sauna, movies and lounge bar. This is a favorite recreational spot for local bears, among others.
Steamworks (487 Lewis St) is a multi-level facility in Centretown with single and double rooms, wet and dry saunas, whirlpool and video rooms.
For browsing and shopping, Wilde's (367 Bank St) is full of stuff like lubes, toys, videos, and knick-knacks.
One In Ten (216 Bank St) specializes in video DVDs for rent or sale, sex toys, and rainbow paraphernalia. They also have cubicles and glory holes.
The city's gay bookstore After Stonewall (370 Bank St) supplies gay books to the Library of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Foreign Affairs Department library, both Ottawa universities, and as far away as the Yukon and Nunavut. Let them help you find a good one too.
Ambiance Bed And Breakfast (330 Nepean St; 613-563-0421), built in 1904, fully modern with amenities, is an easy walk to all the tourist attractions, major public transit, Byward Market, and lots of restaurants and nightlife.
The Avalon B&B (539 Besserer St) is a gay-friendly elegant guesthouse just a short hop east of everything in the downtown hub including Byward Market.
The Inn on Somerset (282 Somerset St, West; 613-236-9309) in a grand Victorian-era house has eleven rooms furnished with period antiques and a great fireplace in the living room. Restaurants, stores, Parliamnet Hill and the Rideau Canal are all a short walk away.
Rideau Inn (177 Frank St; 613-688-2753) is a general public but gay-friendly option in the Golden Triangle residential neighbourhood at a bend in the Rideau Canal. They offer a sunny private roof deck, internet, breakfast buffets and use of the house kitchen.
Ottawa's Gay newspaper, Capital Xtra has all the news and listings you'll need.