The Oak Leaf Steambath is the oldest bathhouse in Toronto. It is a combination of legitimate straight bathhouses and your traditional gay bathhouse.
Confused? I’ll explain. This oldest bathhouse first opened in 1941 and catered to mostly eastern European immigrants. The Ukrainians who came for the banya and the Jews who came for the shvitz. Somewhere down the line the ‘gay’ element was added upstairs, as men could cruise rooms looking for sex.
While on the first floor a mixture of men, both gay and straight, took advantage of the great steam. As the years went by, the place got more and more rundown.
The clientele it attracted were homeless men looking for a warm bed, low-income men looking for cheap lodging, and gay men looking to score a quickie. But it still attracted straight men for the steam.
Greg Keelor, a founding member of the Canadian band Blue Rodeo, used the Oak Leaf Steambath after an injury. He was quoted as saying it had “the best saunas in the world”.
UPDATE: Oak Leaf Steambath has closed its doors at the end of May. The operation of this club is up in the air. To read the latest news go to Heated dispute between bathhouse owners leads to shutdown