When I am researching one topic I often come across random historical tidbits that I think might be interesting to research one day. These tidbits sometimes end up as full-fledged stories and sometimes they just stay as random historical tidbits. I have collected quite a few, so I thought it might be fun to present them in the form of “treats” for a local history advent calendar. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Vancouver history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.
Day 14: Vancouver’s first themed bar was at the Poodle Dog Hotel….
The bar (or saloon) at the Poodle Dog Hotel (love the name!) was the city’s first themed drinking establishment. According to Major J.S. Matthews’ notes that come along with the CoV Archives photograph, “the unique Poodle Dog Hotel bar was made of almost every kind of bark, cedar bark, vine, and maple twigs, moss and fungus, etc. it was built by George Cary for Bert Burton.”
Though the image below is a little primitive (early artificial light photography), you can still see the amount of intricate work that Cary did. It kind of has the feeling of an old-west tiki bar.
The Poodle Dog Hotel first appears in the 1896 city directory at 318 Cordova with C.S. McKinnell listed as the proprietor. Two years later, in the 1898 directory (same date as the photo), the proprietor of the Poodle Dog Hotel is listed as a H.F. [Bert?] Burton. This must be the same Burton that appears in Matthews’ notes and who commissioned George Cary to build him the unique and rustic bar. According to Matthews’ notes, Cary even spelt out the owner’s name in big letters made of maple twigs along the front. “The Poodle Dog” was on Cordova Street between Cambie and Homer Street.