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Bill’s Place

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info@ckpride.com

48 Centre Street, Chatham, Ontario

Bill’s Place

Bill’s Place serves as both the office space for Chatham Kent Gay Pride Association and our community hub, where we provide support, programming, and host various events. The name “Bill’s Place” is a tribute to Bill Brokenshire, a former Chatham resident who passed away in 2018. In his will, Bill generously established a trust fund for CK Pride, recognizing the importance of creating a safe space for the local 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Bill’s vision included the development of two apartments above this space, which are made available to members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community at market rates. The rental income from these apartments helps cover the operating costs, allowing us to continue supporting and serving our community effectively.

Visit our Calendar for Drop-In times.

Founding Donors

Bill Brokenshire Trust

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Other Sponsors & Donors

CAROLYN COLLINS

CHATHAM PLUMBING

CK POLICE SERVICES

FRAN & RICHARD LUCID

GAYLE MARTIN

GREG SIMPSON

RDOHLA & CARLEANE MONK

RICK BURROWS

RYAN WESTON & DANIEL BOURRE

ST. PAUL’s-VICTORIA AVE UNITED CHURCH

THE RIGHT CONNECTION INC.

UNITED WAY

WENDY KEMPSTER

ZAMORA ANGELINI FAMILY

About Bill Brokenshire

Bill, born on February 14, 1945, in Chatham, Ontario, and passing away on September 18, 2018, remained deeply connected to his Southwestern Ontario roots throughout his life. He developed a strong appreciation for history and collectibles through the stories shared by his grandmothers and elderly aunts. Bill’s passion led him to amass a unique collection of heirlooms, curiosities, and antiques while living in a farmhouse with a charming veranda on the Raleigh Plain just outside Chatham. During this time, Bill and his friends were drawn to the vibrant music and culture emerging from Detroit, but the soundtrack of his life was the music of the 1920s through the 1940s.

Bill pursued his education at Chatham Collegiate Institute and the University of Windsor, earning his Teacher’s Certificate in 1968. He embarked on his teaching career in Essex County before relocating to Toronto in 1983. Throughout his teaching journey, Bill stood out for his forward-thinking approach, unwavering composure, and a remarkable ability to support struggling students. He was also known for his creativity, often having his pupils dress up in costumes and engage in furniture refinishing projects in his class.

Upon moving to Toronto with his partner, Ernesto, Bill co-founded the Draper Street Residents Association to preserve the historic Empire houses in the area. Bill’s home, affectionately referred to as “Bill’s Place,” became a cherished gathering spot characterized by his easygoing nature, sense of humor, and attentive, sage advice.

Bill’s self-assurance and love of life as a gay man were truly contagious. He empowered others, instilling in them the confidence and happiness of being themselves, showing that their identity was not the obstacle society often perceived it to be, but simply an alternative path through life. This sentiment, inspired by Bill’s spirit, has left a lasting legacy. (Adapted from Frank Marshall’s soft opening speech).

Building Bill's Place

Bill was adamant that any building acquired should be financially self-sufficient, independent of the unpredictability of political shifts and funding availability. After an extensive two-year search for a suitable location, CK Pride identified a building with Mixed Commercial Zoning at 48 Centre Street. This property was successfully purchased in October 2020, thanks to the generous donation of legal services by Deborah Verhey (Verhey Law) and Daniel Whittal (Whittal Law).

The plan for this building included converting its second floor into residential apartments, with the rental income serving as the primary source for covering the operational costs of the community space. Additionally, these apartments helped address the shortage of safe housing options for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in downtown Chatham.

In January 2021, Junctura Group Construction initiated the renovation process. Despite encountering obstacles such as the impact of Covid, delays in obtaining building permits from the Municipality, and incidents of vandalism, the renovations were successfully completed by the summer of 2022. The finishing touches, including priming and painting the walls, were accomplished with the assistance of volunteers, and the apartments were ready for occupancy by November 2022.

Bill's Place Murals

The most prominent feature inside Bill’s Pace are the youth painted murals.  The main mural is entitled “Kaleidoscope” by Joshua Huys.

“I view the world through a kaleidoscope. Everything I see is different from how others may view it. I am sometimes bombarded by questions that have led me to believe that I see the world differently and how pride has never been complicated in my eyes. This mural exhibits the celebration of pride and nature as one. The rainbow colors and minor details represent how pride is simple and doesn’t have to be difficult, but instead in unison with our world. Kaleidoscope is a window of how I view the world and I hope that now you can see it.”

CK Pride thanks Joshua, Ms. Mceachran and the incredible students at Ursuline College for sharing their creative talents.

Rent our Space

Whether you are planning a celebration, discussion group, or training seminar, Bill’s Place, community space is an affordable, centrally located venue that is explicitly a safe space for & run by the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.  

Bill’s Place features a multi-purpose space that can be arranged to meet your needs. 

We also have a small private room for one-on-one needs.  

Contact us for pricing, occupancy and availability.

 

Land Acknowledgement

Bill’s Place is located on the traditional territories of the Mississauga, Attiwonderonk, Anishinaabeg & Lunaapeew. Chatham-Kent neighbours the Lunaapeew at Delaware Nation (Moraviantown) & the unceded territory of Bkewanong Walpole Island First Nation.