The Beaver – Inclusivity is the Heart of West Queer West
The Beaver is a great place to party with friends in the evenings or bring your kids for lunch by day. The food is decent and affordable and the bar is well-stocked. The Beaver was first started and co-owned by Lee’s Palace Manager Lynn McNeill and Will Munro, the latter a Toronto artist and DJ who was larger than life on the Toronto scene throughout the 90’s until his passing in 2010. There is a collage in the back of the Beaver cafe dedicated to his work, as it is important that people who visit The Beaver know about Will Munro’s social impact in his lifetime.
When Will first started hosting events, there was very little in terms of Queer venues outside of the Church and Wellesley area, and typically they were a short series or a special night. Will changed that with one Queer-friendly punk music event, Vazaleen, hosted at a number of clubs in Toronto starting in 1999, before settling in as a monthly event at Lee’s Palace for many wild years until 2006. Other projects of Munro’s include epic dance nights and party series at The Beaver that helped cultivate rich local culture as well as Canadian talent. The punk-centric parties he threw in The Beaver also emphasized inclusion and diversity, and today the same spirit lives on.
In fact, The Beaver books a hot DJ every single night to spin until well past last call, and their themed nights are like nowhere else. The Beaver at 1192 Queen West is a cozy narrow place sandwiched between the Gladstone and the Drake, and is part of why West Queer West came to be. The music always includes a blend of rare and vintage punk selections as well as other sounds that are just great tunes. I went to listen to DJ Triple-X spin some of his own personal vinyl a few nights back and watched the place jump from empty to packed after ten.
There’s a nice patio out back where patrons sit and quietly talk, and the breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner menus are good fare and family-friendly. The Beaver is famous for tacos, while A.M. Granola starts at $3 and a Tofu Burrito is $11. The bar is reasonably stocked with drink specials and cocktails, such as the bourbon-soaked Beaver Sour, the Rosebud with Bombay Sapphire gin, and an El Diablo with tequila and cassis.
The Beaver is known for special nights, such as the frequent and long-running Electricladyland, which plays only all-female and non-binary electro artists. Wednesdays feature a no cover techno dance party and there is a Faerie Grove Sunday T-dance from 4 ’til 8, as well as recurring Karaoke every Sunday evening starting at 10 pm.
With loads of vegan options and several non-alcoholic choices on the menu as well, (Will Munro was a non-drinker and a vegan) The Beaver is a sort of Queer community centre/punk rock hideaway hangout that Munro’s artistic spirit would be proud to haunt any night of the week, and to light up any weekend. Check out upcoming events and bring some friends!
About the Author
SK Dyment has been a cartoonist and illustrator for many years and has been published in over two dozen Canadian indy magazines and journals. SK loves sketching passing interpretations of intriguing people in pen-and-ink, and is often seen attending various activist-oriented events around Toronto. He is also available for quick illustrations of all sorts as well as more serious forms of illustration. SK Dyment maintains a website @ www.graphicrecording.ca