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A woman reads in Barbara Hall Park.
NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

A guide to local favorites in Church-Wellesley Village

A woman reads in Barbara Hall Park.
  • By Mai Nguyen
  • Photos by Chris Donovan
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Church-Wellesley Village
Toronto
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There’s no such thing as a single gay neighborhood in Toronto, but if you had to point to one, it would be this segment of Church Street. The village’s birth came about after the 1981 bathhouse raids that galvanized the gay and lesbian community. As gay- and queer-owned businesses have expanded to other parts of the city over the years, the village remains an inclusive space with establishments like the 519 Community Centre. In the hot, sticky summers, the street bursts to full bloom during Pride Month.

Meet Mai Nguyen

Mai has lived in Toronto since 2006. Before that, she lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Vancouver, B.C.; and Halifax, Nova Scotia — which has kept her from developing the center-of-the-universe complex that Torontonians sometimes get.

Want to get in touch?

mail-solidEmail bytheway@washpost.com
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Church-Wellesley Village

Alexander Wood sculpture
Standing triumphantly at Church and Alexander streets is the eight-foot-tall bronze statue of Alexander Wood, a merchant and magistrate hailed as a gay pioneer.
Alexander Wood sculpture, 62 Alexander St. Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1B4
Barbara Hall Park
Located beside the 519 Community Center, this urban park is kid- and dog-friendly with several benches. There’s also a stage and elaborate lighting system, so look out for a show.
Barbara Hall Park, 519 Church St. Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2C9
Woody’s
It’s easy to lose your friends when five bars are spread throughout this huge complex. Nightly events include drag performances and contests. The best part: There’s never a cover charge.
Woody’s, 467 Church St. Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2C5
Hair of the Dog
There’s a bit of everything on the menu at this neighborhood pub (everyone raves about the nachos). Eat on the leafy patio, and, as the name suggests, drinking is encouraged during “boozy brunch.”
Hair of the Dog, 425 Church St, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2C3
Buddies in Bad Times theater
From burlesque to broadway, this professional company has a calendar full of shows featuring queer stories and voices.
Buddies in Bad Times theater, 12 Alexander St. Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1B4
There's more to see
Mai Nguyen
Mai has lived in Toronto since 2006. Before that, she lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Vancouver, B.C.; and Halifax, Nova Scotia — which has kept her from developing the center-of-the-universe complex that Torontonians sometimes get.
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bymainguyen
Chris Donovan
Chris is a Toronto-based contributing photographer for The Washington Post who grew up on the ocean and misses it dearly (but on good days, when the sun glistens off Lake Ontario, it does just fine). He loves living in Toronto because of the diversity and great food from around the world.
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cdonovanphoto

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