Church & Wellesley Village
About the area
- Church Wellesley Village, home to Toronto's original LGBT-oriented community, is still going strong even if the younger crowd has migrated to Parkdale, West Queen West and beyond.
- The stretch of Church from Carlton to Bloor also goes by more colloquial names like the Village, the Gay Village, the Gay Ghetto or Gaybourhood, but either way you slice it it's still home to a thriving mix of restaurants, cafes and clothing stores.
- Church and Wellesley is home to the annual Pride Week celebrations, the largest event of its kind in Canada with over 90 floats and an enthusiastic crowd that numbers in the hundreds of thousands. The Pride Parade is always on the last weekend in June. The Dyke March is a woman-only parade that runs on Saturday afternoon and has a smaller parade route.
- Church and Wellesley is also home to the AIDS Memorial, located in Cawthra Park, where the names of members of the community who have been lost to AIDS are etched into bronze plaques. A memorial candlelight vigil is held each year at the AIDS Memorial, during Pride Week.
- The portion of the neighborhood bounded by Yonge, Jarvis, Maitland and Carlton Streets was once the estate of Alexander Wood, a merchant and magistrate in Upper Canada who was at the centre of a strange, supposedly sexually related scandal in 1810. His lands were derisively known as "Molly Wood's Bush" in the early nineteenth century — "molly" being a contemporary slang term for "homosexual". In spring 2005, a statue of Wood was erected at the corner of Church St and Alexander St (the latter named for Wood), honoring him as a forefather of Toronto's modern gay community.
- Church Street and the area around it have been familiar to the Toronto gay community for many decades. Prior to the 1970s there had been an underground (mostly male) gay scene centred around various bathhouses and bars around the city that were not exclusively gay establishments but were known to be frequented by homosexuals.
- Church Street started to become a predominantly gay area, and the centre of the gay life in Toronto, following the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids, an event that galvanized the gay and lesbian community in the city.
- In the 1980s, the 519 Church Street Community Centre became the meeting place for numerous social and political groups and became well known as an LGBT friendly space. A strip of gay bars opened along the street and many LGBT people rented apartments, joined residential co-ops or bought condos close to Church. The area became known as a friendly environment where people could be open about their sexual orientation.
- Downtown's Victorian houses were built in the mid to late 1800's. Most of these houses have been converted to commercial uses or into multi-family homes. This neighborhood also contains a large number of fashionable townhouses built in the 1970's and 1980's.
- The Downtown is where you will find Toronto's most diverse selection of apartment buildings. There are art-deco designed, walk-up apartment buildings from the 1920's, high-rise apartment buildings from the 1950's, and newer luxury condominium apartment buildings, these range from entry level prices to more exclusive residences.
- Church Street Jr., 83 Alexander St., (416) 393-1250 (Public School)
- Lord Dufferin Jr. & Sr., 303 Berkeley St., (416) 393-1760 (Public School)
- Jarvis Collegiate Institute, 495 Jarvis St., (416) 393-0140 (Public High School)
- Our Lady of Lourdes, 444 Sherbourne St., (416) 393-5221 (Catholic School)
- The John Innes Community Centre located at 150 Sherbourne Street, has an indoor swimming pool, a gymnasium, a running track, a weight room, a cardio training room, a games room, a woodworking shop and a craft room.
- Adjacent to the community centre is the Moss Park Arena which includes pleasure and power skating programs as well as hockey leagues and a summer hockey camp.
- Allan Gardens is the largest public park in the Downtown core. This park is the home of the Allan Gardens Conservatory, a botanical garden with six greenhouses that feature unusual and exotic plants from around the world.
Living in "The Village"
- There are many trendy shops and restaurants on Church Street, and day-to-day retail shopping on Wellesley, Gerrard, Sherbourne and Charles Streets.
- The 519 Church Street Community Centre is the meeting place for numerous social and political groups and became well known as a LGBT-friendly space. "The 519" as it is most often called, is a City of Toronto run recreation centre that has been adopted locally as the Queer Community Centre, though its programming is not exclusive to LGBT groups and organizations
Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) District: C08
Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) Communities: Church-Yonge Corridor (0910)