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Dress down. Way down.

James’ Black Bear Pub

3276 Danforth Ave.

What can I about James’ Black Bear Pub that hasn’t already been said?  A lot.

Some confuse it with the Black Bear Pub on O’Connor Drive. Different animal altogether.  This is the easternmost dive on The Danforth and it’s virtually unknown to anyone beyond the dingy block it occupies. 

As per most Danforth dives, the regulars were pleasant and chatty once they were convinced I wasn’t a cop; I proved this by speed-chugging three beer, slamming two shots of rye, and loudly burping.

According to former hash dealer and “Bear” patron, Lloyd,* undercover police never drink and burp like that.  They fart, but they don’t burp.  Good to know.

Décor-wise, there’s not an obvious reason why it’s called the Black Bear aside from the front sign’s illustration and a small wooden bear sculpture.   Although, there is a reason why it’s called “James’.” Because the original owner was Jane and the sign maker misheard her name over the phone.  

Rest assured the Bear’s crack team of barkeeps will never mishear your order, so give the joint a try while you’re exploring historic Scarborough. 

*Not his real name. It was Steve.

The Nitty-Gritty:

Jacksoul Poster: Yes.

Price: Reasonable. $4.25 domestic bottles. $4 pint of amber lager

Service: Friendly. If you’re wearing a collared shirt, you’ll get the royal treatment. Actually, just wearing a shirt will get you the royal treatment.


Scarborough Pastoral

When pioneers first explored Scarborough by taking the subway to Victoria Park, they described eating and drinking at “lodges with warm wood, bright lanterns, hearty stews, and loud sound systems.” James’ Black Bear Pub is clearly one of the best surviving examples of this historic genre.    

Washroom facilities:

Graffiti galore.  More marks than Bernie Sanders’ political ideology.


Completely dirt free. And people free until about 9pm the evening I visited. 


TVs, cool jukebox, artwork, billiard table, and modern dating.


Indoor Parking

Valet Parking Available

Intrepid Life Stories

“Before I parked scooters, I was a jet-setting mule working between Vancouver and Singapore. It all came crashing down when the narcs at Changi Airport heard rattling and intercepted my shipment of Chiclets.”

New Age Dating

This woman asked me if I wanted to go home with her. I declined due to my being in a relationship. It turned out she was in one too. With her husband, who was sitting beside her.

Gum mules beware

$1,000 fine for chewing gum.

Interpretive Art

My interpretation: The artist saw Victor Victoria, went home and watched the Dukes of Hazzard, played Frogger, dropped acid and grabbed his paintbrushes.

Digital Art

Also known as finger painting.

Suggested musical accompaniment:

Chew-Chew-Chew (Your Bubble-Gum) by Ella Fitzgerald

The Last Call:

Dive Bar Mike recommends this bar for art aficionados, Julie Andrews fans, history buffs, mobility scooter users, those waiting to pick up Regino’s pizza or to see their parole officer across the street.


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