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DougMelanson

November 15, 1961 - July 28, 2017

picJune 2016

His one-sentence self-description: "A true Scorpio through and through (look it up). Born in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario; grew up in northern New Brunswick. Lived in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Bathurst, and from 2003 'til 2014, I called Halifax home."

In 2003, Doug moved to Halifax and took the city by storm. He had visited the city the year before and was smitten, and decided to move here permanently1 and arrived bursting with ideas and enthusiasm for the queer community. He launched a bath house, SeaDogsSauna, which he saw as equal parts business and facility for sane, healthy sex for men.

At the same time, he was finishing the plans for a big business - MollyzDiner and MenzBar, which opened a few years later. Click on the link, MollyzDiner, for its own page and a great story from ChrisAucoin that illustrates Doug's irrepressible playful nature.

Doug also arrived with steamer trunks filled with chachkas that he had gathered, he said, over the previous decade to get ready to make the three places so great. In his head he had the themes for his bars ready; Menz Bar and the upstairs bar known as The Partz Department were stylistically separate yet both showing the powerful masculinity that Doug loved so much in both decor and men.

pic2014 Gottingen - Mollyz & MenzBar The first incarnation of Doug's dream was a three storey LGBT dining and entertainment business at the corner of Gottingen and Falkland, with a grand opening on March 5, 2005. The building had been the site of several moderately successful bars for the men's community for the previous decade. In April, 2006, he opened a restaurant, Mollyz, on the ground floor2

Doug had designed the place so that during the day Mollyz would be mostly busy with restaurant business ("Diner by Day"), and then be used by the women's community at night. Above it, Menz Bar, and above that, The Partz Department. The latter had a rooftop deck that was crowded during the summer.

On Menz' first anniversary, Doug said, “The biggest gift that the community has given us after twelve months of being in business is that over two hundred and fifty people showed up to celebrate Menz’s first anniversary. We had our hours extended until three a.m. and we brought in pizza. At midnight David and I hit the floor with t-shirts wrapped up like birthday presents for everyone."3

The building's owner, however, eventually redeveloped the lot, and Doug moved the businesses to the enormous second floor of 2182 Gottingen. Mollyz shrank over a couple of stages, and the bar part expanded to take over that space.

Doug enthusiastically supported every LGBT endeavour that was proposed, and if asked, had helpful advice about how the event could run better or integrate with his businesses. He was generous with his time, his business space, and with money, sponsoring countless large and small projects, and was a steady advertiser in WayvesMagazine.

Anyone living in Halifax in the mid-2000s will remember consistent rave reviews of Molly's Diner - the menu wasn't huge, but everything on it was exceptional. "My community here deserved something a little better, a little more upscale, and a little more edgy. It's a diner, not a gay diner, and it's gotten rave reviews." he said in a 2007 interview.

Also in the late 2000s, Doug worked tirelessly with, and sometimes butted heads with, the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, combatting homophobia-flavoured conservatism and insisting that the LGBT community be represented there - not as a separate LGBT Chamber of Commerce, but included as a category with all their other categories; eventually he prevailed.

In 2012, he announced that he had promised Halifax a decade, and that time was up; he sold SeaDogs and Menz, and in June 2014 moved to BC. JaneKansas wrote an article in WayvesMagazine about his coming to Halifax, and his departure.

He was back in 2016, and was very public about his cancer diagnosis. He was also upfront about his limited time with friends and family, and like everything else in his life, made the most of that.

Celebration of Life

Doug's Celebration of Life will be at MenzBar from 7 to 10pm on Thursday, August 3, 2017. Bring your love and your best memories to share; bring flowers if you like, or some non perishable food or cash to be donated to a good cause. Light refreshments will be served.

Footnotes:

2. WayvesMagazine, May 2006
3. WayvesMagazine, May 2006