Gayest spot in town

Here’s an ad for a nightclub that appeared in the May 15 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I looked up Bill Beasley and Club Esquire in the Toronto city directories. Their history goes back to at least 1929: that directory lists William Beasley as the proprietor of the William Beasley Company, who were jam manufacturers. William R. Beasley, who would eventually become the proprietor of Club Esquire, is listed as a clerk there; presumably, he was William’s son.

The 1932 directory lists both of them as jam manufacturers and the 1933 directory lists William R. with no occupation. The 1934 directory does not list William R., but lists William as the president of the William Beasley Company and a new firm, Beasley Amusements. The latter appears to have been, or become, William R.’s project – he is listed in the 1935 and 1936 directories as being with Beasley Amusements. (In 1936, he was listed as living at the Royal York Hotel.)

Club Esquire came into existence in 1937, with William R. Beasley as its proprietor; its location (not mentioned in the ad) was at the corner of Lake Shore Road and Parkside Drive. I have no idea whether the club had any official connection to Esquire magazine, which was founded in 1933; the logo in the ad was the same as the logo of the magazine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The club also appears in the 1941 city directory, by which time the William Beasley Company had been taken over by Frank E. Beasley. Neither the club nor William R. Beasley appear in the 1942 directory, and the William Beasley Company is now the F. E. Beasley Company, makers of baking machinery. I checked the 1947 directory to see if William R. had returned after fighting in the war, but he is not listed.

I also looked up the acts listed in the ad, but couldn’t find much. There is a photograph of Mildred and Maurice from 1950, but I’m not sure that it’s the same Mildred and Maurice. Any search for Harry Stevens, M.C., is drowned out by references to Harry M. Stevens, who claimed to have invented the hot dog.

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