The Village is a neighbourhood that goes by many names: some may call it the Village, others the Church-Wellesley Village, and to some it’ll always be the Gay Village. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Village may be best known for its large LGBTQ community, but it’s just as suitable for allies as well.
While the area between Yonge and Jarvis, from Isabella Street down to Gerrard East, has been home to a sizeable LGBTQ population for decades now, the concentration of LGBTQ-oriented businesses on Church Street is a more recent development. Gay men began gathering in bathhouses and bars in the area in the 1960s, although these were initially concentrated along Yonge Street. Businesses moved over to Church following the infamous bathhouse raids of 1981, at which point a more visible, cohesive community began to form.
Since the 1980s, a plethora of new shops, bars, clubs, and restaurants have opened on Church. The Glad Day Bookshop, originally located in the Annex and then on Yonge Street, even made its way over to Church in 2016. Glad Day isn’t only a bookstore focused on LGBTQ literature, but the oldest store of its kind in North America. Originally opened in 1970, the change in ownership in 2011 has resulted in more cultural programming than ever, including readings, lectures, and of course drag shows. To top it all off, this book-store-slash-community-hub also contains a café and restaurant — and it’s licensed.
A bar within a book store may sound pretty exciting, but nothing in the Village is quite as spectacular as Pride Toronto. Held every summer and attended by over 1 million individuals, the parade is only the culmination of a month-long celebration. That said, the nightlife in the Village is vivacious year round.
Those interested in Toronto condos for sale in the Village can gain a better understanding of the neighbourhood’s history by paying a visit to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. The largest independent archive of its kind in the world, the CLGA is situated in an Italianate style heritage property on Isabella Street that dates back to 1860.
Entertainment in the Village means more than just knocking back a couple of drinks or taking in a drag show, though. The Buddies in Bad Times theatre, home base for the queer theatre company of the same name, is situated on Alexander Street. The Carlton Cinema is also a favourite for Toronto cinephiles, as this theatre screens independent and foreign films, as well as the standard Hollywood hits.
This neighbourhood may be filled with Victorian homes that have been standing since as early as the 19th century, but there are also plenty of condos for sale in the Village. Many high-rise buildings are situated along arterial roads such as Carlton, Wellesley, Jarvis, and Yonge. Unlike some neighbourhoods, however, sizeable condos can also be found on side streets in the Village — ideal for those who want a high-rise, minus all the noise that comes with living on a major street.
As for those seeking condos for sale in the Village that offer both TTC access and countless amenities, The Lexington and The Met Condos, both on Carlton Street, should do the trick. The former was built in 1981, and contains nearly 350 units (some of which boast sunny solariums) as well as a swimming pool and squash court. The Met, on the other hand, is slightly newer: built in 2008, this 43-storey building stands out from the crowd thanks to its rounded façade. Prospective buyers interested in Village condos for sale in the Met can expect to find massive terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows, as well as amenities like guest suites, a party room, and a pool.
Loft-seekers, on the other hand, will want to check out Radio City Condos, situated in the former CBC headquarters. The complex now consists of townhouses and two towers, with the largest of homes at Radio City spanning an impressive 2,700 square feet.
With Yonge Street acting as the westernmost border of the neighbourhood, anyone interested in a condo for sale in the Village can rest assured that the subway is never far off. Wellesley and College Stations, both on the Yonge line, are each situated within the confines of this walkabout neighbourhood. Residents of the Village can use streetcars that move along Carlton for east-west travel, or they can ride the subway north to the Bloor-Yonge station in order to transfer onto the Bloor-Danforth line.
While downtown Toronto isn’t generally kind to drivers (think traffic jams and hefty parking fares), living near Jarvis is nevertheless useful for those with cars. Jarvis contains a reversible fifth lane, meaning the centre lane is used for northbound travel during some parts of the day, and southbound at other times (indicated by a red or green light). Those hoping to reach the Gardiner Expressway can also do so via Jarvis.
The Locals: LGBTQ individuals and their allies.
Code of Conduct: It’s best to be mentally prepared for the million-odd visitors that gather in the neighbourhood on parade day.
What You’ll Find: A unified community.
What You Won’t Find: Big-box stores.
The Homes: 19th-century heritage homes and amenity-filled high rises.
Sealing the Deal: Living within walking distance of Bloor Street, the Eaton Centre, Riverdale Park, and the ROM.