Out of the Village
Our focus on the Market and Gatineau starts off where it all began, on Parliament Hill, where the first ever LGBT protest in Canada took place in 1971. And while Bank Street was a notorious queer hangout and cruising area, even as far back as the 50s and 60s before the liberation movement, the Market, and across the river in Hull (now Gatineau), saw a lot of significant action, too.
Amazingly, hiding in plain sight at the seat of government, the Hill, the Château, Union Station, the Honeydew, Mackenzie Avenue and Major's Hill Park was awash with gay activity, according to Peaches Latour, Ottawa's biggest drag star in the 60s and 70s.
Many infamous gay bars came and went here as well, particularly in Gatineau, where the bars stayed open until 3am, meaning queers would party in Ottawa, then cross the bridge for the 'Last Dance'. The most memorable spots to go were Le Club, Le Pub, SACS and Le Domino, and the sketchy Chez Henri and Texas Tavern. However, the party was over after 1997 when the city of Hull changed the laws to close at 2am, and the bars had no extra edge to compete.
Some hot Market spots were Groove, Market Station, Taktiks and of course the legendary Coral Reef, or as many called it, the Oral Grief. The Lookout is the lone remaining holdout of the glory days of the Byward Market bars.
Tragically, the Market and Gatineau could be dangerous as well. Major's Hill Park was the scene for a spree of shocking deaths in 1989, culminating in the harrowing death of Alain Brousseau.
The Village Legacy Project is made possible by the Bank Street Business Improvement Area, the City of Ottawa, the Province of Ontario, Daily Xtra, Swirl and Twirl and other sponsors, volunteers and resources.