The Turret - Historic Places Days

The Turret

Halifax, Nova Scotia
Historic Building
1588 Barrington Street, Halifax, NS, Canada
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The Turret began as a one-night gay disco on the 3rd floor of 1588 Barrington Street – the Church of England Institute built in 1888 –  in January of 1976. LGB people had been thrown out of other bars, including The Jury Room, needed a space of their own. 

The third floor space had hardwood floors, wainscoting, gothic peaked windows, and the club’s namesake turret (a spire-topped tower) that hovered over the sidewalk, where the DJ booth was nestled.  

For the inaugural disco G.A.E. members pooled their money and kept beer on roof to keep chilled. Former G.A.E. executive member Robin Metcalfe recalls the thrill of the first night “I remember this enormous feeling of excitement that this was working – people came. People came in large numbers. It clicked from the very beginning and it was quite a joyful thing.”

The gay bar/community centre held variety & drag shows, folk nights, discos, gay Christian nights, conferences, panels & more. Proceeds went back to the activism and events of the Gay Alliance for Equality (G.A.E.). 

“You knew that the moment you stepped into the doors you were stepping into your world. You could just be. You could just be,” says The Turret regular Walter Borden. 

Officially the GAE signed the lease for the space Sept 1977. It closed in 1982 and the GAE opened Rumours on Granville Street. Rumours closed in 1995, meaning there was a community run gay bar in Halifax for nearly 2 years. 

As former G.A.E. executive Deborah Trask said in Before the Parade “..there was was a gay community centre in downtown Halifax, run by the community at a time where there was no such other place anywhere in the country. It didn’t survive, but the effects are still being felt.”

Photo credits: B&W –  Robin Metcalfe. Colour – Rebecca Rose.

This listing was created by Rebecca Rose on July 4, 2023. Rebecca Rose (she/her) is a Cape Breton-born, and Dartmouth-raised queer femme writer and activist. Rebecca’s book Before the Parade: A History of Halifax’s Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Communities (1972-1984) – published by Nimbus Publishing – is a narrative non-fiction account of 1970s and 80s 2SLGB (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual) Halifax. In 2021 Before the Parade was one of three books shortlisted for The Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award.


1588 Barrington Street, Halifax, NS, Canada
Get directions

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