This is a typical bar room scene in the early days of settlement of the Canadian West. Hard liquor and beer were served to customers who stood at the bar. Men often stood with one foot on the polished up brass foot rail. The cuspidor or spittoon under the foot railing was a necessary fixture for use by customers chewing tobacco. These bars were closed in 1915 when Prohibition was enacted in Saskatchewan. It was not until 1934 that hotels were permitted to open Beer Parlours. Hard liquor was only available in liquor stores. Women were not allowed in these premises and it would be only in 1962 that they could enter beer parlours in Saskatchewan.
While I do not recall the exact date, I do recall the day well. It was probably in January of 1962 when it was announced that women were now allowed to make their debut in Beer parlours! I lived in Swift Current then. The news was that not all hotels would be ready to welcome the women, as there were renovations to be made, such as a woman's bathroom needed to be built, and in some cases a major cleaning was thought to be a thing to do to welcome ladies, and removing spittoons was considered necessary. News got out that the Clarendon Hotel in Gull Lake was ahead of many hotels with completed renovations and was now welcoming women to the Beer Parlour. So, six of us drove the 40 miles to Gull Lake to experience the event. We felt like we were a curiosity at first. Eventually, the Beer Parlours were then renamed "Beverage Rooms." Women had finally come of age!!
Sheila Harris of Yorkton recalls the first special outing: Gordon and I and our good friends the Phillips toured to the Balmoral Hotel, the Army & Navy, and I think the Holiday Inn's - Mustache Bar. The girls didn't drink much in those days - We had fun because it was such a novelty! The Balmoral was the most interesting as we knew our boyfriends, then husbands frequently went there. We were curious as to what the place looked like! Frank Brunner was manager at the time.
We welcome other stories of this experience.
Contact Terri Lefebvre Prince,
City of Yorkton, Box 400, 37 Third Avenue North
Yorkton, Sask. S3N 2W3