The Cameron House
May 11, 2018
One of the last great bastions of the Queen Street West of old, The Cameron House has been the neighbourhood watering hole for around a century. You won’t walk past this eye-opener, which is full of both character and characters. Giant ants crawl over the psychedelic mural exterior and an open air photo gallery lines the Cameron Ave. side of the building. Walk inside and you’re in a grand room of lofty ceilings, adorned with gaudy replicas of the Sistine Chapel, where a bohemian mix of artists, writers, musos and a younger generation of hipsters sit hunched over whiskey, wine and beer. Acid jazz and house play in the front room; live experimental art bands make a lot of noise in the back. Experimental theatre troupes, performance poets and spoken-word artists also take the stage from time to time. It can be heaving at the weekend but much quieter during the week it all depends on who’s playing. Since it opened its doors to musicians in 1981, the venue has helped launch the careers of numerous well-known bands and the hotel upstairs still acts as a rooming house and rehearsal space for local musicians. A longstanding hub of cultural activity in downtown Toronto, in early 2013 it spread its musical reach further with the launch of an independent , community-driven label, Cameron House Records. The overall feel is one of a golden era before the corporatisation of the drinking den – a sign behind the front room bar declares ß-This is Paradiseß-, and many of the regulars might well agree.