Montreal police raided Sex Garage in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 15, 1990
All Sex Garage photos © Linda Dawn Hammond / IndyFoto.com
I have been publicly screaming for an official apology for years: Projet Montréal city councillor Richard Ryan this week said he too wants the City of Montreal and the SPVM to apologize for their violent police raids of LGBTQ establishments over the course of decades that resulted in “more than 800 people” being arrested — at Truxx in 1977, at Bud’s bar in 1984, the Sex Garage loft party in 1990 (now widely considered to be Montreal’s Stonewall), and at the Katacombes bar in 1994.
This does not include, among other raids, the 36 people arrested at Montreal’s Sauna Aquarius on Crescent Street in February 1975 (the bathhouse was later firebombed and two unclaimed corpses were buried in "Pauper's Field" in Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery atop Mount Royal); the 13 people charged as found-ins after police raided Montreal’s Club Baths in January 1975 (another 26 were arrested there in May 1975); the 61 men arrested at Sauna David in April 1980; and the October 1975 raids on 7 queer bars, including Baby Face, the legendary lesbian bar.
Violent Montreal police raid on Sex Garage
© Linda Dawn Hammond / IndyFoto.com
Then there is the Neptune Sauna, opened in 1973 by Andre Laflamme and Lorne Holiday. At the time Laflamme and Holiday also owned the Aquarius Sauna when Montreal’s Gay Village was still downtown, before the exodus east after the 1976 Montreal summer Olympic games — an exodus precipitated by the systemic police raids.
The Neptune was raided by Montreal police on May 14, 1976. A friend of mine, Henri Labelle, was working as the cashier at the Neptune that night. Henri told me, “They yanked off people’s towels and threw everybody together and took pictures and charged them all with being in a common bawdy house.”
Henri noted, “There was a former mayor’s son there, a government minister, a secretary to the Catholic Archbishop and a couple of cops, but they were ushered out the back door while everyone else was thrown in paddy wagons.”