Château Laurier

The historic Château Laurier opened to great excitement in April 1912. That it has a queer history is undeniable, but it's hard to say when that began. 

Certainly by the 1950s and 60s, people in the know knew they could find easy sex at the glamorous Art Deco swimming pool and in the change rooms. Paul Fournier, better known by his drag name, Peaches Latour, recalls an early sexual experience here that awakened his sexuality and made him determined to leave the small village he was from to move to Ottawa.

The tunnel that linked the hotel to Union Station was also an infamous cruising spot. Charlie Hill recounts a time when he was blackmailed by a CN employee to give him $20 or he'd turn him in to the police, a large amount in the late 1960s. Sadly, the tunnel has been closed for decades.

On February 19, 1977, activists circled the Château to protest the policies of the CBC, who broadcast from the hotel. They were refusing to air any public service announcements that were queer positive as the majority of their audience deemed LGBT people immoral and the issue was too controversial for them. This protest was coordinated by the National Gay Rights Coalition, who organized similar protests the same day in Halifax, Montreal, Torontro, Winnipeg and Vancouver, marking this the first nationally organized gay rights demonstration in Canada. 

The Château is also linked to a story of tragedy. In August 1989, Alain Brosseau, who worked at the hotel, was walking home after his shift when he was assaulted and thrown off the nearby Alexandra Bridge to his death by a gang of teens who presumed he was gay. 

Nowadays, the Château is not really thought of as anything but a beautiful landmark of the city, but who knows what kind of mischief still happens there. 

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1 Rideau Street, Ottawa, ON K1N 8S7