Gays of Ottawa: 270 Somerset Street W

Less than a month after the 'We Demand' demonstration on Parliament Hill, Maurice Bélanger and Michael Black invite five others at their home at 906–270 Somerset Street W on September 14, 1971, to discuss forming a gay rights organization in Ottawa. 

The others include Charlie Hill, one of the speakers at 'We Demand' who was in Ottawa for the summer holidays and returning to Toronto for studies shortly after, as well as Philip Blanco, Jacques Hoffman, Terrence Reichey and Reg Turcotte. Hill doesn't recall much aside from recalling he was at the meeting, and that he only attended the one before he had to return.

The others kept meeting off and on in September and October in private homes, before finding a location to meet in St. George's Church at 152 Metcalfe. The name Gays of Ottawa/Gai(e)s de l'Outaouais was coined on October 13. Bélanger and Paul Wise became their first co-chairs, and their initial mandate was to lobby the federal and provincial governments on behalf of gays and lesbians, to act as a community organization and also to educate the mainstream community about homosexuality.

When Charlie Hill returns to live permanently in Ottawa, he succeeds Bélanger as president of the organization in 1973. 

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



906—270 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J5