Prejudice To Pride: The History Of The Church-Wellesley Village

The origins of the Village can be traced back to the early 1800s.


While Torontonians may know the Church-Wellesley Village as the home of the LGBTQ2+ community, it wasn't always the welcoming and vibrant neighbourhood it is today.

With pride month underway, Toronto historian Morgan Cameron Ross looks back at the popular neighbourhood and how it has changed over the past two centuries.

The roots of the Village can be traced back to the early 1800s and a man sometimes referred to as a "gay pioneer" named Alexander Wood, who would purchase a large chunk of land in the area.

Although there has been a statue honouring Wood at the corner of Alexander St. and Church St. since 2005, there have been recent calls for its removal from the Church-Wellesley Village BIA because of ties to the residential school system.

Since Wood's time, the Village has undergone many changes that have affected the community, but perhaps most notable among them were the 1981 Toronto Bathhouse Raids which saw police officers target the gay community by raiding multiple bathhouses and arresting roughly 300 people.

Following the raids, the community came together with Church St. eventually becoming the heart of the LGBTQ2+ community in Toronto.

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