2023-10-15 Walking Tour

October 2023 Q Halifax Walking Tour


pic Facts


Brunswick & Sackville

Land Acknowledgement

Mi'kmag word for the harbour, Jipugtug / K'jipuktuk, "Great Harbour" anglicized to Chebucto, you'll see the word in a variety of places.

I've had several Mi'kmag partners and have spent a bit of time on reserves; you very often get tested there with the question, "Do you have a little indian in you?" The standard answer, which identifies you as one kind of ally, is, "My great-great-great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess." But not for me...

Introduction to me: I don't expect you to believe this, but my literary education was done by an extremely rural enclave of lesbians -- anthropologists of the indigenous people here, the Mi'kmag, art and folklore book authors and publishers and artists. I can tell you about it over a beer some time.

I moved to Halifax about 45 years ago and through a sequence of salacious accidents, got very very connected to the gay community here, very quickly.

The harbour's first human use was of course by the Mi'kmag people probably starting 4000 years ago; they were were semi nomadic and spent the summers near the shores and winters inland where big game was abundant and have a really beautiful language - Algonquian family, verb centered. So "red" is not an adjective, it's a verb, "Being red." And, nouns and pronouns aren't gendered, they're animate or inanimate.

The first europeans here were in the 1500s - fishermen and traders; French settlers ("Acadians" - now my partner) starting in the 1600s; 1700s there were many battles between the Acadians and Mi'kmag and British including boats landing here loaded with typhus and typhoid and between that and the battles, the Mi'kmag population was decimated.1.

So here we are at Citadel Hill - historic settler cruising area for 270 years. It should be a national monument! We have a record of soldiers arrested for Sodomical Practices in 1752.

Citadel Hill - photo op / stop;

So this is a Navy town - Rum, Buggery and The Lash are to be expected, practically required.

That being said, we have had our share of the great Canadian queer witch hunt, now called The Purge. As a young person I heard that there was a Lesbian Ring in the air force base near my home and my imagination went a bit wild - not in the way you expect! I thought it was a dessert.

I'll be mentioning a lot of cruising areas today.

Although Pierre Trudeau asserted in 1969 that the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, there are many reasons why men who desired sex with men would not do that; they may have been married, they may not have been out and couldn’t out themselves to roomates, neighbors, family etc; or - if they were military members or associated with one - they could be being watched by the military.

We have a Nova Scotian who literally wrote the book on this as well - GaryKinsman.

AIDS Educator JJ Lyon: We at the AidsCoalition needed to reach men who had sex with men, and so many of those are not connected in any way with the community. So I wanted to make a TV ad, of driving around The Hill, because that's all that most of the MSMs in Halifax were familiar with.

He didn't get his TV ad.

More at Brunswick & Sackville

“The Village” 1km north:

Rumours - second incarnation (we'll walk by the first one later)

many other gay bars

the city's *second* bath house 2003 - ca. 2020

RaymondTaavel’s murder

The Company House

Bus Stop Theatre, a hundred seat theatre with lots of Q programming

Marshalling area for Pride Parades

Morton House, an AIDS hospice created astonishingly quickly in 1988

East Corner of the commons: MargotDurling's "Chosen Family" sculpture on the far side of The Commons

Down Sackville Street. Through the Convention Center.

Argyle St

The Carleton, built in 1760 as a private home, a century later converted to a hotel, then a century later to restaurant and bar.

Back that way is Pizza Corner, which if you are in Halifax and haven't had a donair, you should try. They are not in any way like doner kebabs although they look similar.

The JuryRoom. In 1977 they decided to exclude the "undesirable" people. Like all oppression of our community, this was a catalyzing moment - I'll tell you about an earlier one, later.2

Grand Parade

St Paul's:

City Hall: working with Pride over the years, demonstrations, Pride Flag Raisings are here, like everywhere.

I don't want to take a LOT of credit for it but... it really seemed like Halifax City woke up after I did a talk about Richard Florida's theory that a city's desirability is directly driven by its diversity.

And, I have a story about that. In 2021 I had a big reno project in my house, paid for by insurance. They insisted I move out during it to a B'n'B whole flat rental. The one I picked I notice the hosts were listed as two women. After we talked a bit one of them said, "Are you the Wayves Daniel MacKay??" They had been tourists here 20 years ago, had walked into Venus Envy, had seen Wayves and said, "Any city that has this shop and this magazine, must be great for queer folk."

You might notice a *slight* focus on churchy stuff on this tour. I used to fight homophobia in churches but about .... 30 years ago I switched. I now fight church-phobia in the queer community which is MUCH more prevalent -- for some good reasons and some silly ones.

Venus Envy Are any of you Americans? The word "bookstore" has a totally different connotation. Our current Q book and toy store. It's super classy - here are some bookmarks. They also are actively support the Q community in a variety of ways

Barrington St: Paramount canopy

The Turret


After we had to leave The Turret building, Rumours, down one street. Left / progressive bookstore.

Question: "Commie, Pinko, Fag."

Red Herring Bookstore Again this is not an American "bookstore." This was a store that sold serious books and magazines, not pornography. They were constantly, valiantly in battle with Canada Customs

GayLine - created very shortly after the organization in 1972. also funded by GAE and and then funded by bars for many years after, finally ending in 1996.


Our very own StonewallTavern

GreenLantern Building: for a few years during the 1970s, this was an almost entirely queer buildiing: "Club 777", the first gay bar. We have quotes from people saying it opened further north on Barrington on New Years Eve 1970. It was on the top floor, gay bookstore below that, and Q folk "camping" in office suites in between. And the venue for early GAE meetings, and the GayLine.

Just beyond the Apollo

Apollo Bath building

Stop: above Barrington & Spring Garden

Waverley Inn - Oscar Wilde

Forrest House, a Women's Place, one of two women's centers which was used for lesbian organizing. In the late 1970s many women felt that they weren't being represented well at the community owned bar.

Unitarian Universalist Church - minutes welcoming Q folk in for meetings 51 years ago - at a time when most churches didn't consider us even human.

Walk up the N side of Spring Garden Road to the

Old Library grounds

Refreshment break - possibility of a bathroom break in about 10 minutes.

City Library

Where we're standing was the burying ground for the city poor house; there are ... probably about 20,000 people buried here and there and there.3

Walk up

Spring Garden

TheHeidelberg - gay hangout mid-late 1970s. When a couple of local (would become) activists were kicked out for dancing together, things started to gel up to have our own bar.XXX

The short lived LeCruz

A variety of coffee shops

Gag & Spew Restaurant

AIDS Coalition - from two organizations, a Persons With AIDS group and a government group, forced merger which has worked out pretty well. *Wayves Magazine layout, talk about Wayves: about 30 years on paper; about 300 issues; 2.5 million words on paper, another quarter of a million online since.

The Triangle: Queen Street, Dresden Row & Spring Garden

The Meat Rack

Public Gardens

Through the Public Gardens because it’s pretty

Stop: halfway through Public Gardens: CBC Picket, again in 1977, protesting not broadcasting LGBT public service announcements. The community did a small picket of the CBC - pic on that page -- and The Dalhousie Gazette organized a nationwide boycott; this was a brave thing because CBC ads were a very good source of revenue for the impoverished university presses, but they gave it up for gay/lesbian rights. It took years for the CBC to come around.

Through Camp Hill Cemetery

To Glitter Bean Café - 2018, owner fucked over suppliers and employees, and it was taken over as a co-op, mostly of trans folks.

To St Andrew’s United

S to University Avenue

University Ave

Law School, friend and very out prof, Dr John Yogis, book: "Sexual Orientation and Canadian Law"

Nova Scotia Public Archives

Arts Centre: triumph of a beautiful building over practicality. Performance space on the roof.

At The Dal Student Union Building

Killam Library

Sexual Health & Gender Lab

Through the Dal Quad, turn R after the MacDonald? Building

Chase Building


Wayne Hankey: retired in 2015

So - in 1981 I moved here from rural, redneck, hateful, homophobic rural town to this - an oasis, a paradise where being gay was OK. And you're here now. Enjoy.

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