What's the Future Ever Done for Me?

Queen and Bathurst/Then and Now

PHOTO+-+TORONTO+-+BATHURST+AT+QUEEN+-+SE+CORNER+-+HOLIDAY+TAVERN+-+NOTE+MEN'S+ENTRANCE+-+CROWD+WAITING+FOR+STREETCAR+-+1965Looking south from Queen, 1965. The old Holiday Tavern on the left. Note the separate entrance for men.

My first encounter with the holiday would have been in 1977, walking home from Art College. There would always be some old bar fly coming out the front door having just pissed his pants. Chis Houston referenced this intersection in his song “F#ck Face City”.

The Holiday would  turn into the Big Bop and later, Reverb.

Screen shot 2014-12-28 at 4.20.21 PM2013.

As with many of the older bars in Toronto there was always a Men’s entrance that lead to a separate bar where the men would drink (really drink) and another entrance for Ladies and Escorts where couple could drink in a more respectable bar. The Spadina Hotel was the same.

…in the late 1930s, the Provincial Division of Venereal Disease Control launched a major campaign against hotel beer parlours alleging that they were spreading venereal disease and that prostitution was the main source of VD. “You read these official records and it’s only women who spread disease,” Campbell said with a laugh. “They never acknowledge that they got it from a man. Only women.”

The campaign intensified with the Second World War during which VD was seen as undermining the war effort by infecting young men. In 1942, the provincial government ordered that beer parlours erect physical barriers between two separate areas with separate entrances designated for men only and for ladies with escorts. The latter would allow women either alone or with their husbands and boyfriends. “The whole idea was to try to separate unattached women from unattached men.”

Below some new old photos that have surfaced.

Big-Bop-Holiday-Tavern-2-1024x688 Big-Bop-Holiday-Tavern-1-1024x681


4 responses

  1. Joe

    ‘Ladies and Escort’…I remember those signs from when I strolled down some streets in old Toronto during the late 50’s and early 60’s. Never entered one of those places but I do recall the smell when I passed one of those apparently ‘sleazy’ beer joints 🙂
    The late 50’s…I also remember walking up and down Yonge street, between King and Dundas on a Sunday morning without practically meeting another soul!
    The only activity would be some pieces of paper spiralling around in the wind! I did enjoy admiring some of the old architecture.

    December 28, 2014 at 5:10 pm

  2. I’m sure that the Spadina Hotel had a separate entrance as well.

    December 28, 2014 at 5:49 pm

  3. Jackson

    Hi, great work on the history.
    Do you ever get any shots fro east of Yonge st?
    I love all the history a can get from old TO.
    Thanks from The Danforth @ Logan

    December 28, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    • Do a search. There’s lots of East End stuff.

      December 28, 2014 at 9:33 pm

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