“Diversity is the engine of invention. It generates creativity that enriches the world”
…spoken by one of Montreal’s most famous (straight) residents, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who led the gay parade when the city was hosting Canada’s first nationwide Fierte Pride.
Canada has always been at the forefront of LGBT rights, being one of the first countries to legalise gay marriages and with one of the most progressive transgender laws in the world. Gay Montreal, in particular, has always been a bedrock of acceptance and cultural diversity, to the point where it has developed the largest gay village in North America, and hosts many gay events throughout the year. Here are our 5 interesting gay facts about Montreal, celebrating its evolution as a haven for the LGBTQ community in North America.
Le Village Gai: Montreal’s huge gaybourhood
Montreal’s gaybourhood, otherwise known as Le Village Gai or just The Village is famous for being the largest gay neighbourhood in North America. It’s literally an entire district of the city, officially recognised in tourist city maps and searchable in social media location tags.
This is the heart of the city’s LGBTQ community, based along the mile long Saint Catherine street, bordered by St Hubert Street to the west, De Lorimier Avenue to the east, Sherbrooke Street to the north and René Lévesque Boulevard to the south.
The Gay Village dates back to the 1980s when it used to be a poor working-class neighbourhood. It was first occupied by gay and lesbian businesses after they were forced out from downtown Montreal. Over the years, the area gentrified massively to become the pink bubble of fun it is today.
During May-September, St Catherine Street is closed to cars, allowing the cafes, bars and restaurants to spill out onto the pavements to create outdoor terraces, giving the village the exciting buzzy atmosphere we love about it. It also has a rainbow crossing to mark its starting point. You can read more in our gay guide to Montreal.