Published Jul 14, 2020Toronto bar and venue the Beaver — a West End dive beloved for its trivia nights, karaoke, drag shows and more — is closing its doors for good after initially shutting down due to COVID-19 in March.
The closure of the Queen Street West establishment, which opened in 2006, was confirmed by staff in a venue Facebook group.
"The short-term financial hit of the place being closed is obvious. The future is harder," staff wrote. "We are a small, cramped bar. Some hate it, it's also what some of us like about it. Now it's a big hurdle. Folks aren't going to return to the hip to hip, ass to ass days we once knew. At least for not quite some time."
Staff added that the "want the Beaver, or something like it, to continue...We have the staff, the crowd, and access to some funds to make it happen. A building is just a place," adding, "Realistically, a new venue is a faint hope for the future. If the right spot becomes available down the line, we will jump on it."
The Beaver opened in 2006, co-founded by Lynn MacNeil and late Toronto artist and promoter Will Munro. Munro's brother, Dave Munro, told the CBC that his brother opened the bar at 1192 Queen Street West "to make people reclaim spaces that they lived in...You're laying down your roots and staking your claim and letting people know exactly what you are."
"The Beaver has always operated on a fine line of keeping the doors open," staff recalled in their announcement. "There were a lot of headwinds that we've weathered pretty well. When we first opened, the bar faced a carwash. Buildings kept shooting up around us, and somehow we dodged it, time and time again. Our rent kept going up though. The people that come through our doors are all stripes of queermos — a demographic that is increasingly being pushed out of a ridiculously priced city, yet the remaining creatures of night kept coming to our little hole in the wall."
The affect of coronavirus lockdowns on live music and arts venues across Canada has been well-documented, with artists and venue owners alike calling upon the government for support in hopes of avoiding further damage to an important piece of the country's music ecosystem.