The Toad in the Hole Pub is moving up the street
**I wrote this back on November 19, 2019 and thought "what the heck! Let's publish it."**
Okay, it's only moving up the street to a different location which doesn't seem like such a big deal
until you walk into the current Toad in the Hole Pub location and realize that there's no way to re-create the
of drinking here.
It looks like an old English pub and it's split between two levels. There are big, worn-out booths and beaten wooden chairs and what I've always suspected is a church pew along the front window that faces the street.
It's dingy and yellow, with green walls covered in wood panelling that looks dusty and sweaty at the same time; the result of hundreds (maybe thousands) of handprints and sweat and cigarette smoke from back when they allowed smoking indoors.
I love this dumpy old pub.
I've been coming here since I was 18, and had decided well before my eighteenth birthday that one of the first things I would do "when I was old enough" was start hanging out at The Toad.
I'd walk by when I was underage and stare at the people with tattoos, drinking hard alcohol out of small glass cups, smoking, hanging around a pub situated on top of a venue called The Cavern, and a bunch of tattoo parlours.
It was exactly the opposite of the boring, cookie-cutter neighbourhood I'd grown up in and I became obsessed with it.
When I finally moved downtown and was living in The Roslyn up the street I'd walk home from work, have a shower, and park myself at The Toad on one of the long wooden benches that overlook Osborne Street with a beer in my hand.
I hated sitting alone. It made me feel anxious, and I worried that the people around me would judge me for sitting by myself. But, inevitably, someone I knew would walk or skateboard by and stop to have a drink on the patio with me.
Because that's what happens when you sit outside at The Toad.
And if nobody showed up and you wound up having a beer alone?
That was okay too, because nobody gave a shit.
(In reality, nobody anywhere cares.
I know this now, but didn't then.)
Back then they only had one bathroom for women, and during the summer or late on a Friday or Saturday night you might as well have given up and peed outside instead of waiting in the line to use the single-stall women's bathroom
(or do what I did and go for a slice at Lil Pizza Heaven next door and use their bathroom while you wait.)
I've spent hours here in various states of inebriation. Last spring John and I hung out here after we went for a fancy anniversary dinner at Sous Sol up the street and met a man who ran a dog grooming business
(or was selling it, I forget)
and a magician who did tricks for us for free.
I haven't lived in The Village for the better part of a decade and I don't go to The Toad as often as I used to. It's just not as close as The Good Will or Handsome Daughter or even The Grove.
So I don't go here much anymore. But I'm trying to lately.
I want to soak up as much of this dingy, familiar, comforting
atmosphere before it's gone.
Which, honestly, is never something I'd thought I'd have to say about somewhere like The Toad.
It's the kind of place your parents know, and because they know it and you know it you kinda expected that it would always be there. It's the kind of place you take for granted until it's gone.
But I'm here now, drinking a shitty beer that cost $3.25 for old time's sake. Basking under the greasy light of the Victorian-style lamplight fixtures hanging over me and hammering away at my laptop while sitting on that big church pew seat I talked about above.
The only other patron is an old dude with a huge white beard who hasn't taken his jacket off and is drumming along to the El Michels Affair blasting on the speakers at an alarming pace.
It's 3:37 PM on a Tuesday and the bartenders are doing shots with their friends.
I'm going to miss this place when it's moved and the space gets subdivided into a bunch of smaller units and and leased to franchises like Jugo Juices and gyms.
Nothing stays the same, kids.
So cheers to The Toad in The Hole Pub, a Winnipeg staple for so many
and to the memories made
(and sometimes not remembered)