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Blog Posted in avatar   Michel F. Paré's Blog

Brockton Village: The fastest growing queer neighbourhood in Toronto

By Michel F. Paré
Posted Oct 16, 2012 in Travel
In the photograph to the left stands St Helen's (Portuguese Roman Catholic Church) which sits as beacon on Dundas W, as one nears the bridge over the CN railway tracks further west. East down the street is a right wing Pentecostal Church. It's doubtful either of the churches, know they are sharing the neighbourhood with the gay community and likely don't care. The gay community certainly spends big bucks at their annual yard sales
Toronto gay community is constantly moving. Richard Florida at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management has consistently shown that higher concentrations of gay people are linked with economic prosperity, innovation and creativity within a region.. A new renaissance has started in old Brockton Village a romantic peaceful neighbourhood, known as Little Brazil (Along Dundas W between Lansdowne Ave and Ossington Avenue) as it becomes a vibrant alternative community with recently developed mix of galleries, cafés, restaurants and boutiques to serve an increasingly visible queer clientele.
The residents show their pride by hosting, the Chalk the Block Festival in May, the Toronto Queer Arts Festival every August and have started two new annual events, the Dundas West Street Festival in June and the Duwest Art Crawl in October.
A cadre of Yuppies are buying up the row houses in the neighbourhood, while prices are still cheap. The last half of the 20th century, the area south of College Street saw the influx of Portuguese immigrants and more recently, immigrants from Latin America, China and Vietnam - (Brockton Village Demographics)
Getting around (Public transit: westbound 505 Dundas streetcar from St. Patrick or Dundas station, 63 Ossington bus south from Ossington subway, or 29 Dufferin bus south from Dufferin subway)
Brockton was a genuine village before it was annexed by Toronto in 1884. At the intersection of Dundas West and Brock Avenue, the former Brockton Town Hall still stands (as a Nova Scotia bank branch, naturally). Way off in the distance, the skyscrapers of downtown Toronto are visible. A 15 minute bicycle ride to Yonge and Dundas on a good day.
Queer West Arts & Culture Centre live / work offices are located in Brockton Village (Toronto Ward 18) at the crossroads of Dufferin & Dundas W. They host Toronto's annual festival of queer culture. As well as the home to the gay and lesbian newspaper, OUTeXpressions.
Steve Ireson a Church & Wellesley dude, decided Queer West Toronto was a better location, than the Church Street Gay Village for his new restaurant. The Hogtown Cure Deli & Cafe will open late December 2012 at the northwest corner of Dufferin & Dundas St. West. The new owners are Chris Schroer, Steve Ireson, Vanessa Gulletson I had lunch there Friday December 21, 2012. Opening day found the place, bright Cherry, good seating, cruisy, where patrons are not afraid to talk to you, lots of hipsters, great coffee selection and luncheon meals. Cranberry Butter Tarts are to die for INMHO.
DuWest is a really dynamic and fun neighbourhood. There is a lot of support for businesses that offer locally sourced food in the area. Multiple Organics and Grain Curd & Bean are prime examples, so is the Dufferin Grove farmer's market. The neighbourhood is really young and alive with lots of independent businesses and great places to experience art and culture. But we also like that this isn't Ossington or Queen West West. Duwest has a neighbourhood feel. We like that people go out shopping on foot, socialise in the park, and compete amongst their neighbours for the most unique garden. The Hogtown Cure Deli & Cafe 1484 Dundas Street West, Queer West Toronto, ON. (416) 994-6235
The popularity of the neighbourhood has caught the eye of Real Estate Developers in 2012. 1544 Dundas Street West Development plans a mega structure at the corner of Dundas W. and Sheridan Ave, now a empty lot for past 3 yrs, next door to popular queer nightclub The Henhouse. The developer is proposing to build a mid-rise, 8 storey building, housing 87 units (20,000 square feet) with retail space on the ground floor. The development will also include 2 levels of parking and require further remediation of the site. The height limit currently is 45 meters.
Many new art galleries are springing up weeds along Dundas W. There's Wil Kucey, Then there's loop Gallery, 1273 Dundas St. and Alison Smith Gallery, 1410 Dundas Street West. Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, 1450 Dundas east of Dufferin Street. Ms. Bradley, a former curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, was drawn to the Dundas and Dufferin area three years ago for similar reasons. "I could see what was going on, down on Queen Street, where the rents were doubling and tripling, driving the galleries out. ... When I saw this space, I just thought it was in the right zone." said Bradley West end clothing stores continue to move north from Queen Street.
Two new restaurants opened up in March 2012 The Federal, 1438 Dundas St. W., 647-352-9150 Review and a few doors way is Midfield Wine Bar and Tavern, 1434 Dundas St. W., 647-375-7005 Review
The Magwood Vintage Shop with a careful selection of vintage apparel. Magwood’s racks are filled with sophisticated, ladylike separates — many from the ’40s and ’50 Magwood 1418 Dundas St. W., 416-818-3975,
The best gay friendly store in the village is Sun Milk Convenience Store 1547 Dundas Street West South east corner of Sheridan Avenue,416-531-8580 Owner Sylvia Jung (Has all of your weekly needs) from bread and milk to sewing your ripped pants to a dry cleaning business. Opened around 10 am to midnight.
Chef Nathan Isberg at the Atlantic Restaurant 1597 Dundas St. W. Phone Number: 416-219-3819. Nate left behind more jaded Queen Street West when he took over this Portuguese tavern. Now it’s affordable, earnest and rich in character – which pretty much sums up the hood.
TWO BATHHOUSES are in the Queer West Village (Better know as The Tubs) There's the Central Spa (Bathhouse) -The cleanest bathhouse in the city,populated by mostly older gay men and some curious closet cases from the portuguese/brazilian neighbourhood, out for a quicky) 1610 Dundas St. West 2nd Floor at Brock Ave, two blocks west of Dufferin northside. 416. 588.6191. 15 rooms, 60 lockers (noon-3am, 7 days/wk), regular room: $15, locker: $10 Very busy: Sundays noon-8pm. It opened in 1997 and offers several services. Kill the time while cruising with a “Scrub’n’Wash” from one of the staff. They also have an only queer women's evening. Other services include pedicures, Vibrasage and body shaving. Services are $25/30 minutes, $40/hour + $5/half hour for stone treatment. Add 10 minutes for $10.
If your into old world charm. Then take a Shvitz! at the Oak Leaf Steam Bath, founded n 1941. 216 Bathurst St at Queen W. T: 416-603-3434 The basement and first floor are used by homeless guys and old heterosexual European men who are there for the steam and to sleep (Discretion is advised.) Age group: 30 to just under 90. The top (second) floor is exclusively gay by mutual consent. No glory holes, no dark rooms, no props. The place has changed little since it opened in 1941. Facilities: Two large ancient semi-dry saunas, one small renovated steam room, on 3 floors, 37 rooms. Hours:24 hours, except Tuesday, when it opens at 5 pm. Best times: Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. Rooms: $12 for four hours or $20 for over night. Lockers $12 for 12 hours. Cruisiest Spots: Top floor. * Wheelchair Accessible: No Website.
Gays and Lesbians are now hanging out along Dundas Street W., between Dufferin and Lansdowne, where it's cheap in the western end of Little Brazil (Dupont South). Places that queers love so much. José Ortega opened Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas Street West, a nightclub specializing in world music and jazz, on Dundas West in 2002, the street was a low-rent zone of bakeries, car garages, sheet metal and plumbing suppliers and a rash of Portuguese sports bars. "Seven years ago, the area had this ugly-duckling vibe," Ortega said. "But ... it felt more authentic, more real, a working-class neighbourhood where artists and bakers and construction workers and store owners come and do their work."
Mr. Ortega has created brightly coloured street banners for Dundas Street West, which feature a pair of open hands cradling a neighbourhood growing beneath a golden sun. "That's what I think of the neighbourhood," Mr. Ortega says from his art studio on Dundas West. "It is vibrant, on the cusp of change, but still friendly and unpretentious.
With the opening of the Alison Smith Gallery, 1410 Dundas Street West, was the latest sign of the once-homely neighbourhood's transformation. Grain, Curd & Bean, 1414 Dundas Street, a high-end cheese shop, specializes in three things: bread, cheese and coffee. More specialty store than cafe, this new spot does have some stools by the front window, but, generally, it's more of a take out spot than somewhere to meet-up, surf WiFi or otherwise pass the time.
The village is home to Dundas Street West hotspot OMG Baked Goodness 1561 Dundas St W. (647) 348-5664. The shop will first catch your eye with its striking pink and brown sign, Elk antlers in the window, and graffiti adorning its walls
Naco Gallery and Cafe 1665 Dundas W. closed on December 17, 2011 (Their three year lease was up, building owner wanted the space for themselves. pity) Naco's was known for its all-inclusive, queer-friendly environment, never short of experimental in its offerings from art shows to dance nights. Jason's Place opened at 1602 Dundas W opened same day Naco's closed. It's just begining to hold a few gay events like Ranga and Queer West Fest launch party last August.
The Lubo design shop of Lubo Brezina who hail's from Bratislava, Slovakia (1659 Dundas St W) creates furniture from recycled and reclaimed wood.
Beadle ( 1582 Dundas Street W.) for exquisite jewelry handcrafted by Canadian artisans. Cherie Lunau Jokisch’s store front has been open for five years. In 2011 she is offering Toronto workshops and parties to learn her craft. Store hours are: Wed: 12:00 pm-6:00 pm, Thurs – Sat: 11:00 am-7:00 pm Sun: 12:00 pm-5:00 pm.
Everywhere artists in Brockton Village, are inhabiting little bits of cheap space, as their studios and lofts in other parts of town, are turned into condos.
Update June 6, 2013
On June 8, 2013 Dundas West BIA holds an inaugural Dundas West Fest. Dundas West Fest goal is to unite businesses, residents and the many communities that together make up the neighbourhood in a car-free, participatory, community-inspired celebration of everything local The well known website names it the Most Promising New Street Festival in the City of Toronto Photographs taken June 8, 2013 of the Dundas West Fest.
National Post: Dundas street fair a watershed moment for the once grimy thoroughfare June 13, 2013

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