Happy 75th to the Lord Elgin Hotel. A little bit of our queer history is in there!
“The Lord Elgin is pictured in 1973. A gay bar in the hotel was thriving in a period when admitted homosexuality could get you fired, jailed, publicly shamed and even shunned by your own family, writes Kelly Egan.
The Lord Elgin turns 75 this year, and doesn’t the old doll hide a few polished pearls behind the ageless grey face and royal lineage?
The landmark hotel — Mackenzie King’s limestone aspiration — was for many years home to a gay bar, in an era when, officially, there were no gay bars because, legally, there were no gay men.
But the nameless beer hall sure existed, so much so that historians — scholarly or first-hand — say the basement bar was part of the city’s gay tapestry during a period of tectonic social change in Ottawa, if not all of Canada.
The bar, after all, was thriving in a period when admitted homosexuality could get you fired, jailed, publicly shamed and even shunned by your own family.”