Toronto: The City of Neighborhoods

Story and photos by Dave O. Dodge, Jun 5, 2014.

Toronto's diversity includes a gay area that will be host to World Pride. The spotlight will be on Toronto this month as Canada's largest city hosts this year's World Pride event for the LGBTQ community.

Beginning on June 20, there will be 10 days of celebrations and general mayhem throughout the city, with most of the reveling centered in the Church and Wellesley neighborhood.

It's just one of 140 officially recognized neighborhoods in a diversified metropolitan area of 2.5 million residents on the western shore of Lake Ontario that's been nicknamed "the city of neighborhoods."

Church Street, also know as The Village, located in the heart of this urban sprawl, remains quaint, friendly and very gay. It's one of the last holdouts in North America as a "gay ghetto."

Church Street will seem familiar to fans of gay genre TV. This iconic gayborhood was home to the filming of Showtime's Queer as Folk for more than five years.

Stroll Church Street during the day for some interesting gay shops, then visit again after dark for a totally difference vibe. There are numerous watering holes, restaurants and cafes that can be exclusively gay.

The area was once known as "Molly Wood's Bush" — Molly being a slang from the early 1800s for homosexual, and Wood after a local gay merchant Alexander Wood, who was ordered to leave after a sex scandal in 1810.

Wood returned in 1827 and purchased much of the land in this area of town, lining it with quaint Victorian homes and shops, some of which still exist today. In 2005, the area business association erected a statue of Wood, honoring him as the forefather of Toronto's modern gay community.

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