GO Centre: 175 Lisgar Street

After a short stint on Bank Street where the GO Centre was located, GO moves again to 175 Lisgar Street above a Chinese restaurant, where it stays from its official reopening after remodelling in May 1980 until 1985. Kerry Beckett recalls this location as being known as 'The Cherry Blossom'. 

This space was the first to have an actual licenced GO bar, which opened in September 1981. This meant that the community could go to and support a gay-owned space for dances and other events as opposed to bars that may or may not have been safe or welcoming. This was especially significant for lesbians and bi women, who were often very unsafe in straight-owned or 'gay for a day' bars, and had fewer choices than gay men anyway. As a result, Marie Robertson recalls that the lesbian drop ins and bar nights were the most successful events GO ran at that time. 

In 1981, GO achieves gender parity on its board of directors, and Linda Wilson becomes the first female president of GO in 1983. Seventy people attend a meeting on 'gay cancers' at the GO Centre on August 24, 1982, when the first news of a deadly new virus becomes rampant in the gay male community. 

In order to raise more funds and grow the organization to meet the demands of the community, a new charitable organization, Pink Triangle Services, is founded in 1984. It becomes the first queer registered charity in Canada, and works out of GO for several years. PTS takes over the social services roles of GO, such as peer-led discussion groups and coming out groups, and the Gayline, while GO keeps the political activism, the GO Info newspaper, bar and social events.

When the landlord refuses to renew GO's lease in 1985, probably due to gentrification of the area, it's forced to move for one last time. 

If you know more details about this place, please email 
info@bankstreet.ca to share dates, facts, images or more.



175 Lisgar Street, Ottawa, ON K2P 0C3