Category: Research Project

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Education ProjectResearch Project

Event Details

Date: June 21, 2024

Time: 11:00 am

Location: Murray Library, University of Saskatchewan (3 Campus Dr, Saskatoon, SK). You can also join in virtually on the day of the event via Microsoft Teams.

Event Descriptions

Join us for the Saskatchewan Launch Event, a significant occasion dedicated to unveiling the latest research and education materials specifically designed for Saskatchewan. This event will feature a compelling presentation on the rich history of Pride in Canada and Saskatchewan, offering insightful perspectives and celebrating the progress and contributions of the Gender, Sexuality, and Relationship Diverse (GSRD) community.

Our presentation will delve into the historical journey of Pride, tracing its roots and evolution across Canada with a special focus on Saskatchewan. Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the milestones and influential figures that have shaped the Pride movement, fostering a sense of community and shared heritage.

Following the presentation, we invite you to join us for a reception featuring light refreshments. This will be an excellent opportunity to network, discuss the materials presented, and connect with fellow attendees in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

Come be a part of this landmark event as we celebrate our history and look forward to the future with new educational and research resources tailored for our community. We look forward to seeing you there!


Get your FREE ticket now!

Special thanks to the University of Saskatchewan for their support for this event!

Education ProjectResearch Project
Missing Plaque’s Project’s Bathhouse Raids Poster  https://localwiki.org/toronto/Bathhouse_Raids  

On the late winter night of February 5, 1981, Toronto police officers rushed into several of Toronto’s gay bathhouses as part of a coordinated raid. The raid had been several months in the making and the intent was to investigate alleged sex work and other activities that officers perceived as indecent at local gay bathhouses. Toronto Police used the code name “Operation Soap” for the investigation. The night would go on to be an incredibly violent and discriminatory event that would help galvanize Toronto’s gay community to stand up to the harassment and be a turning point in the fight for equality. 

“Operation Soap” began around 11 pm in the evening when hundreds of Toronto police officers raided several gay bathhouses throughout the city. Witnesses recalled police using crowbars, sledgehammers, and excessive force when entering these businesses. Although many of the gay bathhouses had been operating legally for months and years on end before the raids when police entered the premises, they not only began arresting patrons for such menial and archaic violations as being found in a common bawdy house, but they also trashed the premises of some of the bathhouses. Doors had been knocked in and the environs had been torn apart and destroyed. Some of the men that were arrested were arrested in little more than a towel.  

Close to 300 men were arrested that night and their names were published in media accounts of the raid. At that time in Toronto, it was the largest single arrest. Many of the men who were arrested faced devastating consequences after their names had been released to the public, such as discrimination from employers, friends, and family. Although charges for some were dropped years later, the damage had been done. 

The bathhouses had been a safe space for many in the gay community and the fact that they had been violently desecrated, and patrons arrested on frivolous charges, enraged the community. The day after the raids thousands of protestors took to the street to protest and march, which was again met by violence from the police.  

The protests continued after the raids and culminated in a more formal response to the discrimination and brutality, with the creation of an advocacy group called the Right to Privacy Committee that represented the vast majority of men indicted in the raids. Many of the cases were successfully defended and in the coming years formal apologies were issued by the government. Despite the horrific discrimination that took place, the raid served as a catalyst for change in the ongoing struggle for queer rights. 







Written by: Laura H. 

Education ProjectResearch ProjectVolunteering

As 2023 comes to a close, we’d like to acknowledge our achievements this past year. It was a busy year for the Canadian Pride Historical Society with many milestones achieved and foundations laid for our continuous progress on our Pride History Research and Education Projects. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers we have much to celebrate as we go into 2024.  

 Here are some of the things we are most proud of this year: 

  • Launched our Alberta Research and Education Materials 
  • Marched in the Calgary Pride and Pride Winnipeg Parades for the second year 
  • Held our first Drag Storytime event during Calgary Pride
  • Launched our #CapturePrideHistory campaign to build our Pride Photo Database 
  • Released the first installment of our Pride History Wiki 
  • Grew our volunteer base from 41 to 53 
  • Provided workshops at the National Gathering of Indigenous Education and to the Disability Foundation 
  • Created Drag lesson plans for different age groups 
  • Introduced our CPHS Heritage Minutes YouTube series 
  • Held our very first Canadian Pride History Trivia Night 
Education ProjectResearch Project

Setting the Stage for Resistance

Many know of the Toronto Bathhouse Raids, which occurred in February 1981, but fewer have heard of the Edmonton Bathhouse Raids which occurred that very same year. By the time these raids occurred, dozens of raids had occurred across Canada between 1969 and 1981, resulting in hundreds of arrests. These raids were far from the first, but this year was different because it had the distinction of being the year that the Canadian queer community began to resist.

How Events Unfolded at Pisces

Beginning in February 1981, pairs of young undercover police detectives — nine in total — were posing as members of Pisces Spa, spending weekend nights mingling, watching, and making copious, detailed notes concerning the activities of the men who gathered there. 

Forty members of the Edmonton Police service, six RCMP officers, and two crown attorneys stormed the Pisces Health Spa, a bathhouse used by gay men, on May 30, 1981, at around 1:30 AM. In the raid, 56 men were arrested and charged while an additional six men, owners and employees, were charged with being keepers of a common bawdy house.

The Edmonton raid had two Crown Prosecutors present, surveying the arrests. Everything about the raid had been arranged beforehand in great detail, including having staff ready at the courthouse for an extremely unusual middle-of-the-night arraignment. The men were filed out of the spa and into vans and police cruisers and driven to the courthouse, where a few were pulled aside and questioned, and no one was allowed counsel. It was close to daybreak when the 56 found-ins finally made their way out of the courthouse.

Community Response

The members of the gay community stepped forward in solidarity. Both Flashback and Edmonton’s other principal gay bar, The Roost, offered space for the found-ins to meet and plan their legal strategies. A group of lawyers met the men at the bars to talk them through their options.

As the trials proceeded through the summer months, it became apparent that instead of forcing the gay community to retreat into the shadows, the perceived overreach of the arrests had emboldened the community to resist. Not only was there a protest in front of city hall to draw attention to the injustice, but real outcry came from the frustrated community.

The Formation of Edmonton Pride

After the raid and court cases, what remained was a sense of frustration and outrage that would become a prominent characteristic of the Edmonton gay community. In June 1982, the city’s first Pride events began. There was no parade, but several small events grouped together to honour the theme “Gay Pride Through Unity” attracted 250 people. These events grew into Gay and Lesbian Awareness Week around 1984.

It would be a decade after the raid before the first Pride Protest/Parade would take place, infamously featuring people with bags over their heads to protect their identities. Official support finally arrived in 1993 when Mayor Jan Reimer proclaimed Gay and Lesbian Pride Day.

Additional Resources:

Research Project

September 14 marks the day the The Pussy Palace, Toronto’s first women and transgender bathhouse, opened in 1998. However, two years later in 2000 it also marked the first – and last – police raid of a bathhouse in Toronto.  

The Pussy Palace was the first of its kind in Toronto, as it not only catered to women and transgender folk of all sexualities, but also served as a place for women to openly explore their identities. On September 14, 2000, the club was celebrating its two year anniversary with a huge party filled with socializing, drinking, and, of course, sex. Named the “2000 pussies” party for the anniversary, the festivities were in full swing until two undercover women cops entered the venue. They were followed by five plain-clothes policemen who entered under the guise of searching for liquor license violations. However, many knew that their real intent was to find violation of anti-prostitution laws, of which there were none. During the search the officers also did not warn the attendees of their presence, behaved inappropriately towards them as many were naked or semi-naked, and threatened to charge them with obstruction if they warned other people in the club.  

Two volunteers were charged with liquor licence violations as a result of the raid. But what was most amazing about the aftermath from this particular show of disrespect against the Gender, Sexuality, and Relationship Diverse (GSRD) community was the speed at which action was taken to fight back. The Women’s Bathhouse Committee and the GSRD community alike rallied together with marches to the police headquarters (the first happening minutes after a September 21, 2000 community forum), fundraising for legal and support costs, and protests like the “panty picket” that saw over 100 people shake their underwear at the police.  

On January 31, 2002, the charges were dropped, the judge agreeing that the raid infringed on constitutional rights around privacy. A class-action lawsuit was also filed by the Women’s Bathhouse Committee against the Toronto police and was settled in 2005, granting them $350,000 that went towards legal fees and charity. This was the last raid of a bathhouse in Toronto following a long history of police raids on gay male bathhouses, the lot of them starting in 1981.  

The events and subsequent action around that day are still used as examples and warning to how oppressive forces like the police can harm marginalized communities. Just last year one of the cops who participated in the raid was promoted as Toronto’s new chief of police, which stirred up debate and reinforced the critical eye on the police’s treatment of GSRD folks.  

It also spurred the Pussy Palace Oral History Project, which is run by the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory and aims to “historicize the event within the longer history of Toronto police hostility towards non-normative sexuality.” They gathered most of their research and oral testimony and are currently in the process of creating an immersive digital exhibit, which will be available online. For now, they have posted various audio and visual research for folks to get a glimpse at how the Pussy Palace was on that night, and its legacy beyond. 

A newspaper clipping showing members of the Toronto Women’s Bathouse Committee with the headline “Pussies take a bite out of the cops” Source: The ArQuives

Written by: Madeleine Chan

Education ProjectResearch Project
Mark your calendars! We will be launching the latest instalment of our research and education materials during Calgary Pride!

Announcement and release of our Research and Education Materials for Alberta followed by Story Time with local guests Shane Onyou and King Neptune

September 1st, 2023 @ 6pm

Join us virtually on Facebook Live or in-person at Owl’s Nest Books in Calgary, Alberta

 This is a FAMILY-FRIENDLY event. Please RSVP if you plan to attend!

AwarenessResearch Project

While we believe in the importance of honouring, celebrating, and educating about pride year-round, June marks a special opportunity to do so! Let’s kick things off with a list of 10 notable queer Canadians who have made an impact on GSRD history: 

  1. Delwin Vriend – A teacher in Alberta who successfully fought to have sexual orientation added to the province’s human rights legislation in 1998.
  2. Svend Robinson – The first openly gay member of Parliament in Canada, who served for over two decades and helped push forward LGBTQ+ rights legislation.
  3. Jim Egan – One of the first openly gay activists in Canada, who challenged the Canadian government’s definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman.
  4. Michel Tremblay – A celebrated Quebecois playwright who has often explored queer themes in his work, including in the groundbreaking play “Les Belles-soeurs.”
  5. Douglas Elliott – A lawyer who played a key role in the successful challenge of Canada’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2005.
  6. Elaine MacDonald – A longtime activist who has fought for LGBTQ+ rights in Canada, including helping to organize the first gay rights march in Ottawa in 1971.
  7. Makeda Silvera – A Jamaican-born author and activist who has written extensively about the experiences of Black queer women in Canada.
  8. Brent Hawkes – A prominent United Church of Canada minister who has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, including officiating at the country’s first same-sex marriage in 2001.
  9. Chelby Daigle – A transgender activist and writer who has worked to raise awareness about the experiences of trans people in Canada, including fighting for better healthcare access and legal protections.
  10. Gerald Hannon – A writer, activist and journalist who has been a prominent voice in Canada’s GSRD community since the 1970s, and who has written extensively on queer culture and politics. 
Research ProjectSocial Media

On May 31, 2023, the Canadian Pride Historical Society (CPHS) announced the launch of our social media campaign #CapturePrideHistory, which was created to increase awareness and access to historical information on the Pride Movement in Canada.

The #CapturePrideHistory campaign encourages individuals across Canada who have photos from any Pride events (past or present!), to submit photos with the hashtag #CapturePrideHistory on social media or by emailing to [email protected] (note, email submissions will also be asked to complete the submission form available HERE.)

The #CapturePrideHistory initiative will create a robust, vibrant living historical database and supports CPHS’s on-going research of the history of Canada’s Pride Movement.

Help us Capture Pride History!

Access our Media Release about the launch HERE

Media Coverage

We hopped onto Global’s QR Calgary Radio, Global Saskatoon, CTV Edmonton, 900 CMHL Hamilton, and Global Regina to share information about the #CapturePrideHistory campaign!


Here are some of our favourite submissions from week 1 of the campaign – keep them coming! 

AwarenessResearch Project

Tell A Story Day falls on April 27 and presents an opportunity for people to share their experiences and engage with others. On this day, the Canadian Pride Historical Society is seeking submissions of “Your First Pride Stories” to build a celebratory archive of history. This initiative aims to collect and preserve stories that capture the essence of the Gender, Sexual, and Relationship Diversity (GSRD) community’s journey towards equality, acceptance and pride. 

By sharing your first Pride story, you have the opportunity to be a part of this important initiative and contribute to the ongoing dialogue about the GSRD community’s journey. Your story can be a powerful way to connect with others, inspire change, and celebrate the diversity of our experiences. 

If you’re interested in submitting your story, make sure to sign up for our newsletter (at the bottom of the page) to hear about the submission form opening. Or email your first pride story and photos to [email protected]. Let’s come together on Tell A Story Day to celebrate our stories and our community and continue to work towards a more inclusive and accepting world. 

Research Project

To understand the historical event that took place over twenty years ago, we need to jump a little further back in 2000 to the month of February. In response to the Supreme Court’s May 1999 decision, the Liberal party had introduced Bill C-23, the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act. The law would grant same-sex partners who have been living together for over a year the same rights and responsibilities as common-law partners. 

The decision was centred on the “M v. H” case, which featured two Toronto women who had been living together for more than ten years. According to Ontario’s Family Law Act, “M” filed a spousal support lawsuit against “H” after the couple split up in 1992. The issue was that the statute defined “spouse” as “a man and woman” who have lived together for at least three years but are not married. The judge determines that the phrase “a man and woman” should be changed to “two persons” since it is illegal under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

Bill C-23 is approved by Parliament on April 11 by a vote of 174 to 72. The law grants same-sex couples in common-law relationships the same social and fiscal privileges as heterosexuals. The legislation has an overall impact on 68 federal acts that cover a variety of topics, including income tax deductions, bankruptcy protection, pension benefits, and the Criminal Code. Yet, the concept of “common-law relationship” is broadened to include same-sex couples but the definitions of “marriage” and “spouse” remain unchanged. 

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