Gale's + Standing awkwardly on the corner of Eastern Avenue and Carlaw, Gale’s Snack Bar looks at once like a set piece from the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and a criminal den. Indeed, the former Hell’s Angels clubhouse is just a few blocks away Everything about Gale’s is old: the coffee machine, the cash register, the hand-painted menu above the counter, even the regulars. Prices have increased just once over the last decade; coffee and tea are sixty-five cents, fish and chips three dollars, and a classic milk shake is a dollar and change. You can order the entire menu for less than thirty bucks. Much of Gale’ charm comes from this lack of change. The propped up benches shift dangerously as diners squirm in the cracked and weathered leather seats. The tiled floor, an ever shifting tectonic marvel, looks like it sits above a fault. You lose an inch in height moving from the front door to the kitchen at the end of the diner. Gale, now long passed, sold the snack bar to Dave some sixty odd years ago. He runs the diner with his daughter, the unflappable and giggly Eda. They've been working together, hip-to-hip, since she was ten. Now disabled, he cooks in the tiny kitchen perched atop a high stool while she slowly fills orders, brews coffee, and makes shakes. The only reference to their Chinese background amidst all the diner kitsch is two Confucian-like fishermen dangling their lines over boxes of Granny’s Tarts and Snicker Bars. Local eaters, some of whom have visited daily for fifty years, give thanks in small ways –trinkets and figurines, from the Marshmallow Man to the Skippy bear, fill a cubbyhole shelf next to the hot plate and bags of Munchos chips pinned to the wall. If you were to hurriedly eat a meal at Gale’s, you might think its one of many 1950s style diners slowly disappearing throughout the city. Spend a bit more time and a markedly different picture emerges. Dave and Eda run what has become a social and economic life-line for their diners, many of them victims of drugs, alcohol, and abuse. Various regulars rely on disability payments or welfare to get by. When Gale's closes over Christmas there is a small panic to find an affordable alternative through the holidays. It's like Cheers, but no one is happy, many drink alone at nearby bars after visiting Gales, or return to their lonely lives at the Duke, where they rent cheap rooms. They face the vicissitudes of troubled and challenging family life, the cruelty of the free market, and the difficulties of navigating a complex and bureaucratic social services network. Gale offers them security and connection amidst this tumult. Sadly, it’s only a matter of time before the gentrification that has been unceasingly sweeping eastward along Queen begins to trickle south to where Gale’s Snack Bar sits, seemingly precariously, on the corner of Eastern and Carlaw.