Bars where Pete has had a Drink (5,807 bars; 1,754 bars in Seattle) - Click titles below for Lists:

Bars where Pete has had a drink

Sunday, April 05, 2015

#2361 - Garrick's Head Pub, Victoria, BC - 12/1/2013

Garrick's Head Pub is said to have been established in 1867 and to be among the 12 oldest bars in Canada and the second oldest in British Columbia. Given the typical inaccuracies in such articles for the one area I know fairly well (Seattle), and considering the complexities often overlooked  -- Was it under the same name? Was it always in this building? How long were the interruptions to business as a bar? Etc. -- and having seen no primary sources and no strong historical sourcing, I accept these claims with caution. However it does appear that a Garrick's Head Saloon was established here December 31, 1867, remained that until at least 1914, and operated under various other names until fairly recently. (Interruptions as a licensed bar would have minimally included prohibition in British Columbia from 1917 through 1921.)

In November 2012 the small pub hidden in the back of the building expanded into the large, bright space between itself and busy Government Street. Another bar downstairs has closed -- this was Churchill's, which we were informed was a biker bar known for drugs and underage drinking. These days Garrick's is a locus of the craft beer community, with 55 choices on tap and a standard bar food menu of burgers, salads, nachos, etc.  The staff are casual and friendly.

In back the old wood burning fireplace still burns below a mounted elk head, and like every respectable building of its age, it has been found to harbor ghosts. One of these is said to be the spirit of Mike Powers, onetime owner of the joint, "a big, hard-drinking, loud-talking Irish immigrant who spent a fair bit of time in Victoria brothels." (timescolonist) At 3am on the morning of October 1, 1899 Powers was clubbed and beaten, and he died 4 days later. Unlike the many criminals hung here in Bastion Square after a final meal across the street from court house in Garrick's Head Saloon, the attackers of Mike Powers were never identified. But they were described as a man and a woman dressed as a man, the latter said by some to be an ex-wife of Powers' and by others another man's wife whose fidelity Powers had publicly disparaged.

In any case, we saw no ghosts on our visit, and with the expansion of the cozy little room into a bright, high-windowed, tourist-beckoning hub of beer sophistication, it's hard not to believe that the spirit of old Mike Powers has not finally moved on.

1140 Government St, Victoria, BC V8W 1Y2 - (250) 384-6835
Est. 1867
Web site:
Articles: timescolonistmojdehsami - flickr - dinehere -

No comments: