Some days you look back at these posts on Roaddave and see the ones that get the most hits. In order to slake the feverish imaginings of our readers, herewith a reprint from 2007, as posted with comments attached.
I was doing some reflecting the other day, not in the sense of reflecting light, as I do that well enough, without any special training, but reflecting, in the sense of remembering things. Bars seemed to come back to me. Bars, as in licensed beverage alcohol parlours.
Some of these establishments are long gone, but a few still exist. Others exist hazily as I was probably drunk when I went in and drunker when I came out, but I do have vague recollections of their decor. Herewith, a list of Bars.
The Maple Leaf in Ottawa, site of much illegal drinking during high school. A classic linoleum floor, Arborite tables and fluorescent lights. Cheap draft and ghastly chuckwagon sandwiches that were reheated in a metal box, with what looked like a 300 watt lightbulb inside to heat your lunch. After you got your chuckwagon sandwich and tore away the partially charred cellophane, you used mustard packets by the handful to douse the taste of the sandwich.
The Ottawa House, Hull. Long gone, but a huge beer parlour that sat five or six hundred at a go and had a balcony surrounding the main dance floor. Quarts of beer served to anyone who could see over the bar. Also home of my first brush with the original 12 percent Bras D’Or beer. There was usually a band in attendance. The Guess Who played there toward the end of their career and apparently I saw them. Getting puked on from the balcony was a hazard of the Ottawa House, but they didn’t care if you took the party into the street too.
The Eastview Hotel, Eastview. (I refuse to call it Vanier, it’s Eastview, dammit!) Also long gone. Had basement rec-room ‘oak’ panelling in the bar and a perpetually sticky floor from spillage. Apparently there were people who lived in the Hotel. but I’m reasonably certain those folks never actually ventured out in daylight.
The Chaud, Hull. There were two Hotel Chaudieres. The Rose Room and the Green Door. The Rose Room was upstairs, where you took a date. The Green Door is where you went to get drunk and fight. Both held more than 2,000 patrons at a go. You were brought a quart as a matter of course; only girls were brought pint bottles. The servers all had bus-driver change machines hooked to their belts and could carry at least 20 quarts and four jugs on a tray, with one hand.
In the glory days, the Chaudiere saw Louis Armstrong play the Rose Room. Later, bands like Sha-Na-Na, the Staccatos, Octavian and the Five Man Electrical Band played there. The Green Door was the kind of place where when you opened the door, you immediately ducked down, as there was either a bottle or a chair headed your way.
The Chaud was also home of Gerry Barber, the toughest bouncer on the planet. One story about Barber will suffice: A patron was being unruly and Barber asked him to sit down and shutthefuckup, tabernac!. The patron objected and showed his displeasure by breaking a nearly full quart beer bottle over Gerry Barber’s head. Normally, this would knock most humans to their knees.
Barber laughed out loud, in the face of the patron: The 2,000 drunks in the room instantly became very quiet, as we knew what was going to happen next. Barber grabbed the patron by the face and genitals, throwing him in the direction of the door, over a couple of tables. When Barber strode over to where the crumpled patron lay, he was still chuckling to himself. He picked up the patron by the belt, then used the patron’s head to open the door and toss him into the parking lot. The band resumed playing and the rest of us resumed drinking.
The British Hotel, Aylmer. The British sold something they called “Porch Climber”, which was a fortified wine-related fluid: Sort of a high-test sangria, without the fruit slices, juice, or images of Spain. Porch Climber was sold in pitchers, like draft and if memory serves, was $3 per 64 oz pitcher, while beer was $5 a pitcher.
Why it was called Porch Climber was never explained. However, after a pitcher of that stuff, you’d be unable to get up on the porch, or for that matter, off the front lawn, where you had passed out, face down, the night before. It also stained white Addidas three-stripe running shoes permanently.
The World, Ottawa. The World was Ottawa’s premiere blues bar and had 300 as its’ listed capacity. When bluesman Buddy Guy played The World, they sold 700 tickets and everyone showed up.
Women, on those nights when the house was full, (Long John Baldry would also pack the joint), would routinely be assaulted, or to use the vernacular of the time, “felt up”, as they tried to move through the crowd. On occasion, a woman would be body surfed on the top of the crowd over to the bar, or the rest rooms, depending on where she wanted to go.
The Grads. Ottawa. Originally a old fashioned “Ladies and Escorts” and “Men’s Entrance” type of tavern, it evolved into a watering hole for most of Carleton University, at one time or another. The colour scheme was beige and red, like an old streetcar or the Ottawa Transport Company buses of the time. The nicest thing about the Grads was the sign out front in Art Deco typography and design. The restrooms were from the Night of the Living Dead.
Friends and Co., Ottawa. In the disco era, Friends and Co was a meat-market of oak and brick, the concept being the ‘beautiful people’ of Ottawa would come together to drink and go home with someone different every night. The beautiful people did congregate there and it was a spritzer and fern joint of the worst kind.
The Talisman, Ottawa. The Talisman Hotel had a bar in the basement, which was done in full-on tiki lounge, with bamboo lamps, reed wall coverings, woven rattan furniture and servers in mahalo shirts in the dead of winter.
I can remember vaguely, some of, the Zombies they served, as well as the sounds of a South Korean disco band doing “That’s the Way, I Like It” in very bad accents. However, they did have a full horn section of stone killers and the keyboard player had a Hammond B3 with the lightweight Leslie speaker cabinet that he knew how to play. He made the table lamps shake with that organ when they did “Gimme Some Lovin’ by the Spencer Davis Group.
Barrymore’s, Ottawa. Barrymore’s had an interesting history. Originally, the Imperial Theatre, it was a movie theatre on Bank Street, then it was shuttered for a number of years, with the seats and screen still intact inside, covered in dust. After a decade or two, it was reopened, at least the balcony and loges section, as Pandora’s Box, a strip club that was needlessly upscale for the time and neighbourhood. Pandora’s restored some of the elaborate painting and gilt work of the original Imperial and recycled some of the velvet draperies for the peelers’ runway.
Then it closed again and reopened as Barrymore’s, a pre-eminent live music bar and showcase. Any big act playing Ottawa at the Civic Centre, if they could, would stay over an extra night, or come a night early, to play Barrymore’s. Barrymore’s held, legally, 550 people. I was fortunate enough to see George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Tina Turner and Huey Lewis and the News in Barrymore’s.
There’s something galactically Right about seeing Huey Lewis or George Thorogood in a packed, smoky bar, with the entire place jumping up and down in unison, everyone, including the band, piss drunk. Tina Turner had just released “Private Dancer” and was a mega-star, who had booked Barrymore’s months before, as a warmup date for her tour. A Rolling Stones tribute band, the Blushing Brides, used to own the place when they played there.
Licensed as a bar, Barrymore’s didn’t have a bad seat in the place. A big stage, left over from the strippers, and one of the first GE Talaria video projection systems that was installed for non-band nights. They’d fire up the video system and play some of the very first music videos on the big screen at ear-splitting volume. On very quiet nights, they’d hook an Atari Pong game up to the big screen and you could play Pong on a screen that was twenty feet wide.
Pineland. Ottawa. In what looked like a small, warmed over rural arena, next to a rental go-kart track, some of the 60’s and 70’s best local bands played Pineland. The CFRA Campus Club for Coke, with Al Pascal, used to host the bands. Pineland was the home for the Townsmen, the Staccatos, Octavian, Five Man, the Cooper Brothers, Bolt Upright and hundred more bands. Ostensibly, Pineland was not licensed, but Gilbey’s Lemon Gin was readily available.
I’m going to end it here, for now, but if you remember some of the old Ottawa hotspots, like the Red Door, the Laf, Salon Diane and Salon Colette, as well as the Claude, the Elmdale, the VD and some of the other holes, drop me a line.
There are more stories to be had.
31 responses to “Bars in Ottawa Pt I”
These are great stories, hope you don’t mind some additional info about Barrymore’s.
The Imperial Theatre opened in 1914 and seated 1200 people. A floor was installed in the 1960’s, running from the bottom of the balcony to the back of the original stage. This space was eventually rented to Canada’s first all nude strip club, Pandora’s Box. A floor was also installed at the front of the building over the original lobby, and was used as a massage parlor. The strip club kept the original balcony theatre seats and had purchased the red velvet curtains from the Capitol Theatre when it was demolished, but never did any restoration.
Pandora’s Box was closed in 1978 for it’s failure to meet building safety standards. 4 partners bought the lease and renovated the space to open as a disco/supper club. Cost overruns and a bad review by Ottawa Citizen Dave Brown columnist forced the club into bankruptcy within 18 months.
In 1981 the lease was purchased by 3 partners who thought it would make a great live music venue. And so it was for more than 10 years. What many people may not know is the club’s legal capacity was 198 people, posted on the liquor licence behind the lower bar. Security’s first priority was to make sure aisles, stairways and exits, were clear, especially if the club was over capacity. Liquor, fire and police inspectors would drop in from time to time to make sure patrons were safe, and responsible managers were on duty. The highest attendance was for George Thorogood, more than 550 people.
The owner’s biggest concern was that the poured floor did not have enough support. On busy nights the ceiling of the Nervous Onion would move up and down. Perhaps that is why it is closed now.
Yes Gerry Barber was a very tought bouncer, Im trying to find out more about him or if theres a family historian or any pictures, see i am somehow kin to gerry barber, he was my moms cousin and i googled his name today and thats how i came across your blog, if you know anything elts about him please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you can point me in the direction of someone who does thank you.
Your write-up brings back memories, only because I left those places almost sober and remembering everything that went on. Just to make a note about the Chaud, short for Chaudiere Golf and Country Club. It was situated on the Aylmer Road in Aylmer, not in Hull, across from the Glenlea Golf an Country Club, known today as the Champlain Golf Club. The Chaud was a conbination of two watering holes. The Rose Room, situated upstair, was a very classy, old style dance hall with a mezzanine or balcony level on all four walls. The Green Room, on the other hand, was more of a dive bar where you could get wasted on beer and shop for your favorite drugs. Drugs were peddled in the same manner as peanuts and popcorn at a baseball game. “MESC, ACID, HASH!”The Chaud was sold after the owner, JP Maloney, died. It was levelled and replaced by what is now known as the Chateau Cartier Hotel and Resort. The golf course is in much better shape since the change.Another good place for seeing bands, such as the Cooper Brothers, was the Gatineau Golf and Country Club. The building was destroyed by fire and replaced by a Loblaws and strip mall in the 80’s.What memories we have!
Oh, Pineland. I worked there for a couple of years taking money and stamping hands. But more than that, I painted the pictures and murals in dayglo. I painted a wild mandala on Octavian’s drum kits but it flaked off after a couple of shows. Fun times.
grew up with Kirk Dorrow the drummer. do you have any picks of his drum kit. Any info on Octavian would be appreciated. Rick J
you where on of our favourites Jim. As I recall Jenny and I picked you up at home most Saturday nights before the gigs at Pineland. And you did a great, honest job.
Thank you Arnold, for droppnig by. And also a large thanks to others who have commented and filled in some of the gaps in the memories.
just a small comment re the Chaudiere Green Door – I ‘lived’ there back in 1971 – 1973 when I graduated to the Rose Room after they got rid of Terry Carisse and started bringing in rock bands and I can tell you there’s no way you could fit 2000 people in the Green Door (maybe a couple of hundred); Rose Room – yes, GD – NO
What was the name of the tavern in the old Union Station in Ottawa. It was across from the Grand hotel (bar) on Besserer st. and Sussex
So glad I came across this info – I had requested photos of The Chaud and here I am… About the Glenlea – was that across the The Chaud a bit down the road on way to Aylmer? I spent lots of weekends @ The Ottawa House – Loved the bands… what was the name of the blind singer -he was so good. Ray Hutchison? There was a nearby venue that I saw The Platters @ – same side as The Chaudiere – maybe further heading again to Aylmer… and The British Hotel in Aylmer – Western singer – Huey Scott… he took forever to prepare – warm up for his shows – back in the 60’s. My then husband’s favorite artist.
What about the hotels downtown Hull like the dance halls @ Chez Henri & there was another popular one around the portage area. Not far from The Ottawa House.
Man… it sure feels good to go back in time – I miss those days!
About the tavern on Besserer & Sussex – it’s on the tip of memory. Shoot!
Wish I could read more about Ottawa/Hull’s past entertainment venues.
Oh… I used to go dancing on Bank Street – One b4 the exhibition grounds.. and the Oak Door – anyone remember those two?
I sang @ age 14 @ La Salle Hotel on Dalhousie – My dad took me and put me on stage – Food was served so I was allowed in. I sang “You Made Me Love You’ lol How I miss my teenage & 20’s years.
One last place was @ The Riverside in Eastview (Vanier) on Rifer Road.
Gino Vanelli performed there he said @ his last show in October @ Nepean Centrepoint Theatre.
I saw Elvis in 56 when he came to Ottawa – hmmm was it the colosium?
Anyways – Thanks for the memories…
Youngsters all what about the rendezvous or the masque rouge maybe Le soleil and for any one with an ounce of class cafe le Hibou
I was looking for info on the Rendezvous when I came across this blog. It was my tavern style experience as a University Student, when the bars closed in Ottawa that was where everyone went.
When I drove cab for ABC in the early 70’s, the shift would end about 1:00 am for us and we’ed head over to the Rendezvous. It had an atmossphere that we liked; kinda smokey and not too pretentious. The back room was our favourite and we would be left alone by the bouncers as long as we behaved ourselves, which we usually did.
But I remember one night when about a dozen or us, guys and gals, showed up and took a table in the back. I had to use the washroom and wasn`t there very long but by the time I got back to the table, the entire crew were getting the bum`s rush out the door. I still don`t know to this day what the Hell happened but somebody must have pissed off a bouncer to a great degree and that was that.
I miss the place even today as it represented the old Hull before all the Fed. Gov`t buildings went up.
I remember my first visit to the Chaud; the after party for our grade 12 ‘formal’ (held at the Talisman, natch) which shut down early after a crew member burned half his face while setting off a phosphorous flash-pot with a match, but that’s another story.
What I clearly remember was someone setting off a backyard sized firework (the ‘Volcano’ sort) on a table next to a back wall of the Green Door. It went off for about a minute. And no one noticed or did anything about it. Coolest thing I have ever seen in a bar.
Gerry Barber was the reason the Chaud wasn’t a biker bar. ‘Nuff said.
The Plaza…Sparks St. west of Bank St, 1960’s -1970’s. Bar downstairs, 25 cent drafts, music upstairs, saw Canada Goose perform there.
Le Soleil, Hull
Disco Viva, Hull
Sacs Disco Bar, Hull
Bests Bar, Hull
Chez Henri, Hull
Trying to remember the name of a disco on Riverside that my parents used to go to in the ’60’s….
The nickname for the Riverside Tavern and Disco was “The Rib”. Upstairs, you could find the disco that had Playboy Bunny replicas serving drinks in the early to mid 70’s. The Tavern downstairs, (very similar to the Maple Leaf Tavern located on the corner of Montreal Road and St. Laurent Blvd.) was where all the heavy duty power-drinkers threw back quarts of ’50’, ‘EX’, etc. Fights were pretty common but generally just included fists and boots. Some taverns actually had what they called a ‘panic button’ in their bathrooms, if you got jumped you could reach to hit the buzzer so the waiters could come to your assistance. I remember being able to buy a quart for .75 cents at the ‘Leaf’ and the ‘Rib’ taverns, only place cheaper we knew of was the Ottawa House tavern across the Ottawa River in Hull Quebec for .70 cents. I also remember being able to purchase beer at any of these Taverns long before I turned 18 which was the “drinking age” at the time. As I sit here writing this response to the above comments I realize that I could likely talk about these places for days on end, I somehow completed Grade 13 at Rideau High School inspite of it being located down the road from the ‘Leaf’ (“ML”). I actually remember a teacher at Rideau whose class was scheduled on Friday afternoons, with most of the class down at the draft room of the Maple Leaf each Friday for long lunch hours, he finally relented and even taught a few classes while quaffing drafts with us at the Maple Leaf Draft room. “Those were the days my friend” however different from the old theme song of the All in the Family sitcom – “I knew they would have to end”, HA-HA.
In reviewing all these postings, it seems there are several of us with the same mental problem: We were drunk. I’ll add the Sly Fox Disco on Carling Ave (now some evangelical church) that was originalloy the Sampan restaurant. Rumor was the Sly Fox had one of the floor lights from the set of “Saturday Night Fever” in the dance floor. Cheezy Hank (The Chez Henri) was also a fern bar in its’ later iterations.
This is like eating peanuts, I can’t stop recollecting now. Do you remember the Lafontaine Hotel on Montreal Road, downstairs was the proverbial Tavern with more or less same atmosphere as the Leaf and the Rib, but upstairs was the ‘Golden Rail’ – Country music bands at their finest, packed to the rafters Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights, lots of women seated alone, always friendly and easy to meet. I vividly remember being in there one night when they announced that Elvis Presley had just died, there was literally a hushed silence over the place for a good minute while the patrons dealt with their shock. Another really dingy tavern I remember on Montreal Road was the Eastview Hotel, was definitely a place you wanted to have someone watching your back, lot of tough, dangerous characters frequented the Eastview, some had just been released from Prison or the detention centre on Innes Road (Holiday Innes) as they referred to it. Of course all of Montreal Road had plenty of watering holes and was like the gateway to the “Byward Market” by way of the Cummings Bridge (more stories for another day). Some people I knew kept up that way of life throughout their adult lives – I guess thats why I regularly find so many familiar names, only in their 50’s reflected in the Ottawa Citizen Obituaries.
The Raceway Tavern on Clarence St. Classic Market tavern with hookers galore. Live music by Paul Henry. Bouncer Gordie Galinger kept us safe and his wife at the bar kept us drunk. Ahh, my sweet university days!
I remember going to the Chaud to see Cheap Trick, drinking quarts and getting stoned right at your table because back then you could—that was an awesome show, from what I remember, because I don’t remember leaving the Chaud or how I got home that night. Someone mentioned the Talisman had a bar downstairs so for the record I believe it was called the Beachcomber! Also does anyone remember the Black Swan or Club Zink? Great stories …Cheers 🙂
Wow I am glad I found this page what memories. I grew up in Carp and Saturday and Sunday nights we loaded up a few cars and headed to the Chaud. We never went into the Green Door, although we fought our fair share they had a different code of conduct down in that hole( bottles knives, guns etc). Do you remember the old guy that came around with the flash camera and would take your picture for a few bucks. I still have a pic from there from 83. The only place you could buy anything hash,pcp,lsd,pot uppers downers lol you name it. We just smoked the hash. Remember how the waiters would come around with their coin changers and flash lights. For a small tip they would hold the flashlight so you could see while rolling your joint on the table. If you were in a fight god forbid you had better get your shots in quick and get out of there before Gerry Barber got there and got a hold of you. I saw many a supposed tough guy get the crap kicked out of them be Barber and then ejected with his signature toss out the front door and down the steps, a buddy of mine had that pleasure one evening. One night a buddy and myself went in and had a sprinkle in the can and while we were walking by a stall with the door open we saw a biker looking dude (for lack of a better term) having a crap with the door open. My buddy and I were laughing as we ponied up to the urinal, we stopped laughing emediately when we heard ” hey stretch you think that’s pretty funny eh) my buddy is 6Ft 6 in and had a gun in his ear. Luckily a guy in the washroom saw this and got out and got Barber. The rest is history ( they didn’t call the cops for those things at the chaud).
Anyway lots of great times. They don’t make places like that anymore.
As a final note we had to drive through the hull , qpp, rcmp, nepean, Ottawa, opp police forces to get home. Imagine these days!!!
Seems I just jumped in Mr. Peabody’s wayback machine, yeeesh.. yeah, I remember, or not remember getting home from the Chaud many a times. and damn, I shoulda taken that Raquel Welch poster from behind the bar..
Glad someone remembered the Raceway Tavern. Interesting times were had there. And don’t forget the Albion Hotel. A good place to go when you didn’t want to be around others, or cheerful people. Quite sullen at times, but hey, the drinks were cheap..
Being a west-ender growing up, there was always the CrazyHorse on March Road to fall back on, if you didn’t want to head into the city.
And during the university days, the weekend routine was always the same.. Thursday nights at Oliver’s at Carleton U. ( saw some amazing early acts there, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, John Baldry, etc etc). Friday nights were always the Algonquin Pub ( Powder Blues Band, Crowbar, Doug & the Slugs, etc), then over to Hull, hoping to find a date for Saturday night. Saturday night it was Disco Reflections at some hotel ( the Delta Inn) with your date, then over to Hull…. Sunday, sleep it all off and start over again..
For a good bite to eat with your beer, there was always the Capri restaurant on Merivale, with their square pizza and huge jugs of beer, or Peter’s Pantry in the Carling area ( really hot waitresses there at the time), and damn, the name escapes me right now of the place on Richmond Road in Westboro where the Mill St. Brewery place is now..Kind of a rundown place, but the same faces night after night after night, each with their own life story to listen in on if they let you….
and if you desperate, really desperate for a date, there was always the singles night at the Concord Hotel on Montreal Road on a winter’s Friday night…
yeah, good times, good times. Thanks for the memories in dragging a lot of these up. The Rose Room was always the fave and the go-to place though. even at 16, with an underage ID card that would do McLovin’ proud, lol
Anyone remember the bar where the Restaurant 18 is now or basement where Side Door is located….I can’t remember the name for the life of me…I think it had the word blue in it but not sure
I remember all of those joints. At the same time I ran dances at Pineland, Parkdale, Lighthouse and Beamish Hill Chalet. Also managed Octavian and Liberation, so have a ton of great memories. FUN, FUN, FUN !!!
My nerves I’m hemmorhaging mentally from the waves of memories. EAsy on the hemp everyone. Seem to be missing another of my fave watering holes, super for music and talent too, On the upper Aylmer rd, it was a Golf Course also., Owned by Joe Sax, and his two shall we say very entertaining sons, Spent a lot of time there when I was living in Aylmer and working at OY. Super musicians, seem to remember Russ Thomas, before he changed his name and moved to Montreal. Spent many nights when Johnny Nash was there. We(being the Staccatos played at most of the places mentioned, so you can understand how weird my memories might be. Another kick ass quality bar we liked alot was the Duvernay in Hull. Played and got whacked there on many occasions, cause that ‘s what one did in those days and nights. Thanks for the rushes.
And thanks for a blast from the past from Dean Hagopian, back when AM radio was Boss! I’ll add memories of Al Pascal, Shelley Emmond, Trevor Kidd, Ivan Hunter, Dave “50,000” Watts, Bill Drake, Tom Lucas, Jim Johston, Art Stevens, Casey Fox, Rick Shannon and the Original Winter’s Nights on BY at the old joint on Richmond Rd.
K Mart resturant for the Algonquin College students was a great watering hole and dancing on the Rose Room floor as it heaved and moved with all the folks is a memory worth while!