3 min

Top Canadian gay destinations

Travel and social-media experts choose the best places to visit

Whitehorse. Credit: David Adamec

Dean Nelson

Co-owner of
Board member of Travel Gay Canada
1 Vancouver: “It’s the rainbow flags on Davie Street,” he says. “We have a presence there 365 days.”
2 Montreal: “Their marketing is so clever. They get that women are there for the culture; men are there for the sex — and some of the culture,” he laughs. 
3 Toronto: The Church Wellesley Village isn’t as vibrant an epicentre as it once was, Nelson says. But he’s confident that it’s reinvesting in itself, and reinventing itself, especially to host WorldPride in 2014. It’ll be number one again soon, he predicts.
4  Halifax: “Halifax has done a really great job of courting the gay community,” he says. Combined with its authentic Atlantic Canadian experience, gays and lesbians feel increasingly welcome, he says. 
5 Whistler: “Whistler is a year-round destination that the Vancouver boys, the Portland boys, the guys from Seattle — it’s their playground,” he says. The community of Whistler has worked hard to make WinterPride and the rest of the year welcoming. Being gay-friendly has become part of the fabric of Whistler, he says.
Barb Snelgrove
Megamouthmedia public relations
1 Vancouver: “Because it’s home,” Snelgrove says, “and there’s tons to do.”
2 Whistler: “I think WinterPride is one of the best Prides I’ve been to. It puts a different spin on something we’ve been doing for years and does it so well. WinterPride is tops, in my book.”
3 The Gulf Islands, BC: “For great romantic getaways.”
4 Toronto: “For their Pride. They’d kill me if I didn’t say that,” she laughs.
5 My bedroom: “For great romantic getaways! I don’t think my partner will disagree, but you might want to check with her.”t
Josh Rimer
YouTube marketer
1 Vancouver: “I hear a lot about how inclusive it is,” Rimer says, encouraging visitors to spend time on Davie Street.
2 Montreal: The city is known for its open-mindedness, he says, with its European feel, big gay village and vibrant club scene. 
3 Toronto: It’s a major city with a sizeable gay area and a variety of gay events to choose from, he says.
4 Calgary: Don’t miss the gay rodeo, Rimer says. It’s a tradition — like going home for Christmas, only in this case it’s cowboys.
5 Halifax: It’s the up-and-coming gay city, he says.
Tanya Churchmuch
Tourism Montreal
Chair of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association
1 Threeway tie between Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver: If you’re part of the queer spectrum, you can’t go wrong visiting these three cities, Churchmuch says. They all have “good gay offerings” and they’re also sufficiently welcoming that you can enjoy sites outside their gay villages. Don’t miss West Queen West in Toronto, Commercial Drive in Vancouver, and Mile End in Montreal, she suggests — they all have that organic, mixed, queer-lezzie vibe!
4 Whitehorse: “It was really an unexpected discovery to me,” she says of this northern town of fewer than 24,000 people, Yukon’s capital. She expected the natural setting to be beautiful but was astounded by the number of lesbians living there. By chance, Churchmuch arrived in time for a burlesque festival and appreciated the town’s culture and left-leaning community. 
5 Halifax: It’s “the little fun town that could,” she says. “They have an amazing little Pride — so fun, so community-oriented.” And Halifax Tourism has made a real effort to attract gay and lesbian tourists in the last three years, she notes.
Darrell Schuurman
Co-founder and executive director of Travel Gay Canada
1 Ottawa: “Ottawa has been such an instrumental part of LGBT rights,” he says. “It’s within the fabric of Ottawa itself.” Schuurman encourages every Canadian to experience Canada Day in the capital at least once in their lives. “I think Canada Day is the showing of that fabric — whether you’re LGBT or an immigrant or whoever you are, you’re a part of this great country.”
2 Quebec City: “With the old European feel, it’s stunning,” he says, as well as being gay-friendly. “You really do feel like you’re transported to another place.” 
3 Halifax: “It’s not because I currently live there,” he laughs. “It is right on the ocean — it instantly puts you at ease,” he says. “The people are so hospitable and friendly and just make you feel welcome. It’s got a great energy, but it’s also slow-paced enough to be calming.” Plus, Halifax Tourism has done a great job marketing to gays and lesbians and engaged the community to do it, he says.
4 Rocky Mountain Region: “I grew up in the mountains, so it has such a special place in my heart,” he says. “They are visually stunning, and for the outdoor lover there’s so much to offer.”
5 Niagara Region: “The Niagara Region’s got — well, it’s the wine region!” he laughs. In addition to alcohol, Niagara has a variety of offerings, he says, from the quaint English-type setting of Niagara-on-the-Lake, to the “truly spectacular falls.”