Oratory of Saint Joseph, dominated by the massive dome, overlooks Montreal. // © 2012 GTH & Nathan DePetris

Gastronomical delights, a bon vivant atmosphere, cultural heritage and a certain je ne sais quoi combine in a distinct mélange

For several decades, Montreal Canada has been beckoning LGBT visitors. Moreover, the city’s government has been at the forefront of reaching out to the queer community to court us, way before it was the ‘in’ thing to do and before there was even a bandwagon to hop on to. It’s no surprise, then, that there is so much infrastructure for gay travelers and this guide only begins to scratch the surface of this most fantastic of European gay villages in North America. GTH plans to arrange for frequent follow-ups and continue to grow this guide in the years to come.

  • Gay Pride & Events

Stained glass at Montreal Metro’s Champ-de-Mars station is reminiscent of Chagall meets Mondrian // © 2012 GTH & Nathan DePetris

In typical Québécois fashion, pride festivities in Montreal are fabulous and over the top. As if one gay pride isn’t enough, there are two alongside other events throughout the year. Divers Cité festival has celebrated all the colors of the gay rainbow in art, song, and dance for over twenty years. This benevolent bacchanal draws bohemians from all over the city and beyond to frolic in the joys of life. St. Catherine Street and nearby streets in the Village are closed off every July as performers take to the street and stage. Grandmothers, parents, and children revel alongside drag queens, gay boys and girls of all ages, shapes and colors. Fierté Montreal, Montreal’s newest addition and official Pride parade and celebration, celebrated its 5th anniversary in 2011. This newer pride organizes a parade and floats, and is held in August.

Not to be missed is the renowned Black and Blue festival,a uniquely Montreal event. Started as a circuit party to benefit HIV/AIDS, it has expanded to include cultural, artistic, and sports events, culminating in the Black and Blue party.

  • Clubs, Bars and Nightlife

Gay nightlife in this bustling metropolis could fill up pages, but is luckily concentrated around St Catherine Street, between Berri-UQAM and Papineau metro, for easy exploration. Montreal’s many bars and clubs are often grouped as complexes under one roof, such as the Complexe Sky, with restaurant, discotheque, and a rooftop terrace. Another restaurant and bar combination is Saloon Resto Nightclub, featuring gastronomical beef specialties, haute cuisine, and a popular bar. To mix things up a bit, head out of the Village to Au Diable Vert; while not an exclusively gay club or bar, it is a charming local hangout that serves amazing beers on tap and attracts all kinds of young hip crowds.

Light plays a symphony of humble colors in the shrine, at the Oratory of Saint Joseph, Montreal. // © 2012 GTH & Nathan DePetris

Unique to the city, many microscopic gay saunas dot several neighborhoods. The largest is Sauna Oasis, with over ten thousand square feet of amenities. Another prolific offering is Montreal’s male nude dance clubs. The relatively new Stock Bar has nightly shows, theme parties, and special events regularly. Campus is popular during the afternoons as well as evenings, and draws a college crowd.

  • Sights, Sounds, and Attractions

Regardless of religious persuasion, the Notre Dame Basilica’s late nineteenth century woodworks and sculptures are breathtaking. Of particular note is the Chapel of the Sacred Heart’s ornate wooden altar. Just outside the city center, the Oratory of Saint Joseph commands a towering perch and can be seen from several locations in the city; its dome and structure is architecturally stunning, and the site is a pilgrimage destination for Catholics.

Museums in Montreal are top-notch. The most intriguing include the Archeology and History chronicling the city’s past, Fine Arts which showcases exquisite collections of Canadian, international and decorative arts, and Chateau Ramezay with its 500 years of history in an uncluttered quiet governor’s manor and gardens.

Ornate details adorn the altar of the Sacred Heart, Basilica of Notre Dame de Montreal. // © 2012 GTH & Nathan DePetris

Either by walking or horse-drawn carriage, Old Montreal serves up a meandering maze of streets with restaurants and shops reminiscent of Europe. Start your explorations in the iconic Champ-De-Mars metro station, walk uphill and use the Ste Antoine Sud exit into old the town, passing by the grandiose city hall to meander down gently-sloping Place Jaques-Cartier. Also, head to the Promenades Cathédrale, an underground all-weather complex of shops and stores with a network stretching 33 kilometers for shopping,eating and people watching.

  • Accommodations and Logistics

Rooms run the gamut in Montreal, and there are many fine hotels and inns. However the gay B&B, or auberge, is as charming as it is prevalent and affordable. One of the most centrally located is Hotel Felix, formerly the Auberge Cozy, right in the heart of the village. Even more centrally located to all of the city through its connection to Berri UQAM subway and bus depot is the Gouverneur Place Dupuis; this basic four star has been a stalwart supporter of the community and hosts many Gay and Lesbian events, offers over 350 rooms, and is the closest large hotel to the Village.

If You Go:
Archeology and History (www.pacmuseum.qc.ca)
Atmosphere (www.atmospherebb.com)
Au Diable Vert (4557 Rue Saint Denis  Montreal)
Black and Blue party (www.bbcm.org)
Campus (www.campusmtl.com)
Chateau Ramezay (www.chateauramezay.qc.ca)
Complexe Sky (www.complexesky.com)
Divers Cité festival (www.diverscite.org)
Fierté Montreal (www.fiertemontrealpride.com)
Fine Arts Museum (www.mbam.qc.ca)
Gouverneur Place Dupuis (www.gouverneur.com)
Hotel Felix (www.hotelfelixmontreal.com)
IGLTA (www.iglta.org)
Lord Berri Hotel (www.lordberri.com)
Notre Dame Basilica (www.basiliquenddm.org)
Oratory of Saint Joseph (www.saint-joseph.org)
Saloon Resto Nightclub (www.lesaloon.ca)
Sauna Oasis (www.saunaoasis.net)
Stock Bar (www.stockbar.com)