St. Charles Tavern, 1955. Photo by James Salmon. Toronto Public Library.
“Meet me under the clock”—for several decades, it was the slogan of the St. Charles Tavern. While it began in the early 1950s as a cocktail lounge owned by a prominent local horse breeder, the St. Charles gradually became one of the city’s most prominent gay bars, thanks to a combination of location and unintended consequences of Ontario’s liquor laws.
The clock tower above 484-488 Yonge was built as part of Fire Hall Number Three, which operated from the early 1870s until a new hall was erected on Grosvenor Street during the 1920s. Many tenants filled the space over the next three decades, including a bicycle shop, and a succession of car dealers who sold North American (GM, Kaiser, Hudson) and British (Austin, Morris) vehicles.
Among the most newsworthy incidents during this period was a fire which struck the second floor Metropolitan Gallery of Fine Arts in January 1940. The blaze damaged several paintings which, ironically, were brought from Europe to prevent damage during the Second World War. Among the major losses was 17th century Dutch painter Ferdinand Bol’s “Handwriting on the Wall.”
Yesterday, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. It’s too early to determine the effects of this decision on Britain, but they’re probably going to be massive. Scotland has said it’s likely to hold another referendum on whether or not to stay in the U.K., and politicians in Northern Ireland have largely expressed concerns for the future.
Pride can be a bit overwhelming your first time out. There’s the month-long, jam-packed official calendar, which starts with a flag-raising ceremony and stretches on for an entire month. Every major institution in the city, from TIFF to the TSO, is getting in on the action. All your friends are RSVPing to different events on Facebook, and on top of all that, every square inch of the Church-Wellesley Village is plastered with posters advertising themed club nights and circuit parties. We haven’t even got to the parade itself, with hundreds of thousands of revellers and multiple stages, each with their own series of performances.
How’s a newbie to make sense of it all? With the Pride festival officially kicking off today, Torontoist offers its best advice for navigating the celebrations to come.