Montréal 101 for LGBTQ Women
by Florence Gagnon
As Montréal celebrates its 375th anniversary, the city is playing its authenticity and diversity cards by capitalizing on the creativity of local artists and businesspeople. And it just so happens that the LGBTQ community is front and centre in all this activity, offering up bold concepts and promising projects.
Several women from Montréal’s LGBTQ community are throwing their talents into businesses like restaurants, bookshops, microbreweries and visual arts projects. As a result, many new spots are cropping up to serve these communities and enrich their social and cultural lives.
Here are a few places worth checking out!
Happy hour in the Village
Bar Renard is a foxy new establishment in the Village. Located on Sainte-Catherine Street, this friendly and trendy spot is owned by Isabelle and Marc-Antoine, who also run Le Palco in Verdun. Bar Renard is a local watering hole where friends converge to grab a snack or sip a cool one—particularly on weeknights. The décor of their non-gender-specific bathrooms is definitely worth checking out.
A unique microbrewery created by a passionate pair
Artisanal brewery, dining room, lounge and boutique. That’s what you get at Brasserie Harricana. Marie-Pier Veilleux and Cynthia Santamaria got it right when they opened the business in 2014; nothing attracts attention like a girl-powered microbrewery!
Not only have they been brewing their own suds at their Jean-Talon Street location since 2015, they’ve also produced tantalizing menus for brunch, lunch and dinner. The down-to-earth atmosphere was inspired by the original brasserie run by Marie-Pier’s father in Amos, Québec —and it’s without a doubt the key to their success. Brasserie Harricana is a must-see (and must-drink) destination to add to your Montréal itinerary.
Discover feminist thinking
L’Euguélionne is an independent bookstore that was established by a Montréal collective formed in 2015. Their idea was to promote feminist ideas and women’s literature. The bookstore is an accessible space where you can read, sip a coffee or chat with others.
L’Euguélionne offers a wide range of collections for the different communities it serves. There are new and used books with feminist essays, theoretical works, youth literature, comics, art and specialty magazines. Book launches and readings also happen here.
Kim and Zoe: Like a travel memoir
Kim and Zoe, the two owners of Fortune, have come up with a menu that’s worthy of an American road trip. Located in Little Italy, the restaurant is centred around a long counter that offers views of the kitchen, where Mexican cuisine meets Québec inspirations. Fortune serves some of the best tacos in town as well as guédilles, a local take on submarine sandwiches. In short, the menu here is uncomplicated but very tasty.
This is a great place to fuel up before heading for a drink at Notre Dame des Quilles.
Demystifying LGBTQ issues through arts and culture
At Never Apart, their mission is to bring about social change and spiritual awareness through cultural programming. Located in Mile-Ex, this 12,000-square-foot space includes galleries, a music studio and several other creative studios.
The centre is open on Saturdays from 12 to 5 p.m., as well as during scheduled events posted on their Events page. Admission to the gallery and permanent exhibits is free.
If you have a penchant for contemporary art and LGBTQ issues, pencil in some time for NEVER APART.
Casa Del Popolo
As a meeting place for artistic communities, Casa Del Popolo is a music venue that also supports visual artists. The walls in this cozy space are covered with dozens of concert posters. This is the perfect spot for getting together with friends over pints of beer or cider—and some of the best nachos in all of Montréal. Head to the unpretentious Casa for a casual soirée or a hot date.
Notre Dame des Quilles
Notre Dame des Quilles – NDQ – is half bar, half bowling alley, and all fun. Since 2012, the establishment has been serving up comfort food in a retro ambiance. This diverse destination is a choice spot to catch a queer movie or dance the night away to disco tunes. Let’s just say their programming is pretty eclectic! From country to karaoke, there’s no chance of getting bored at NDQ. This institution has a hard-earned rep and deserves your support.
Alexandraplatz Bar is a great spot to grab a drink in the summer, when they open their massive sunny patio. Every spring, the LGBTQ community converges in this industrial space in Mile-Ex, not the least to savour their unforgettable drinks (that means you, Bicicletta) and soak up the festive atmosphere. Come with friends or to make new ones. On weeknights, the crowd also includes young professionals and students—especially when the sun is shining.
Florence Gagnon is president of Lez Spread The Word (LSTW), a Website providing news and entertainment content in French and English, while being a valuable resource for the French- and English-speaking lesbian community.
To see the list of our regular contributors, click here.