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Cecil Hotel Vancouver

Cecil Hotel, 1336 Granville St.
Demolished-March 2011

Goodbye to great Vancouver nights at the Cecil Hotel

By Janet Mackie
May 28, 2008
The Georgia Straight

I heard the other day that the Cecil Hotel is soon to be demolished and the news brought back memories. The Cecil Hotel was for many years in the 70’s a great place to be on a Friday night. The Cecil, at that time, did not look that much different from the Yale Hotel next door (which also had popular subterranean steambaths) or the Blackstone farther down the street or the Austin across the road, or, indeed, many other Vancouver hotel bars. But for a long time the customers on Friday nights were an interesting bunch of people.

Poets and writers and potters and artists and musicians and bar-room philosophers and existentialist cab-drivers and Malcolm Lowry fans and alcohol-impaired Ph.D.s and fine-arts majors turned carpenters would all congregate on Friday night and drink and talk until closing time and then often go around the corner to the old Arts Club on Seymour Street where you could drink and dance (maybe catch Doug and the Slugs Band) until early morning.
I heard in the “old days” there was more violence and passion at the Cecil—fights bloody and dirty, the waiters more bellicose, and the characters more colourful. Those were the days when Peanut Charlie was young. Peanut Charlie had a speech impediment, a twisted leg and a gimpy hand, and he went around the bar selling peanuts: peanuts, the rumour had it, that were salted from being kept under his armpits.
No-one drank anything but beer (cost about 25 cents a glass and ordered to fill up the table) particularly as the waiters, a tough bunch, would “forget” to bring anything more sophisticated. Most nights you would see friends at four or five different tables and go around visiting and catch up with people who had been away to Europe or surveying up north or on a fishing trip, and then there were the heated debates about politics and art and all that stuff that got more animated the longer we drank.
Over the years, new owners changed the décor, usually for the worse. The terrycloth tablecloths were retired, but the huge wall-to-ceiling murals remained intact for years (sometimes draped, other times revealed). My favourite mural was of a fat, jovial English bobby, but there was also an eccentric Austrian Octoberfest scene that included a strapping German dancing woman with one hand painted on backwards.
The “neighbourhood pub” décor change was the worst, with an artificial fireplace stuck halfway up one wall and plastic flowers in baskets hanging irrelevantly in space and strange incomprehensible memorabilia adorning the walls. We absorbed the changes, noting them dismissively, and kept on drinking and talking.
The change of ownership that brought in the heavy-duty stripper routines complete with huge new stage, loud blaring lights and overhead mirrors, did in the old Cecil. We did have strippers before, but they made do on a little stage and brought their own music and took their clothes off in a laid-back amiable fashion and then left, but the new routine was impossible to ignore so we left. I don’t know what happens in the Cecil now, but for while it was a great Vancouver tradition on a Friday night.

Janet Mackie has lived in Vancouver for many years and misses the bad old days.

Source URL: http://www.straight.com/article-147411/goodbye-great-vancouver-nights-cecil-hotel


image from glenalan54 on flickr.com


Developers peel off another layer of old Granville
Sweet note for historic blues bar, strippers getting boot

Mike Howell,
January 16, 2008

Vancouver Courier

Blues music is in, strippers are out.

The Yale Hotel will get a makeover and its neighbour, the Cecil Hotel and its strip club, will be demolished as part of a redevelopment plan for Granville Street.

The Yale, located at the north end of the Granville Bridge, is on the city's heritage list and the premier blues pub in the city. The Cecil is home to one of Vancouver's few remaining strip clubs.

Before the project goes ahead, there's a lot of paperwork that developer Rize Alliance Properties Ltd. has to work out with the city.

Architectural drawing from www.rizealliance.com/projects.php

Tomorrow, council will review a rezoning application from Rize Alliance, which hopes to complete the project by 2010. The main component of the plan is the construction of a 23-storey residential tower in place of the Cecil.

The project will displace more than 100 low-income tenants in both hotels. The Cecil has 82 rooms--50 of which qualify as single-room accommodation. The Yale's 44 rooms all qualify under that category.

Mark Shieh, development manager with Rize, said the company hired an advocate to help find Cecil tenants a place to live. The new tower will not offer social housing.

The advocate will also work with tenants of the Yale during the renovations to ensure they find accommodation and receive priority on returning to the refurnished rooms.

Once the Yale's 260-seat pub and building is restored, ownership of the two upper floors, which contains the 44 rooms, will be turned over to the city.

"Once the rooms are in the public hands, then the city determines its management, its fate for perpetuity," said Shieh, adding that annual rental income for the Yale is roughly $200,000. "So that [money] could go and fund other social housing initiatives in the city."

Shieh said the new tower will have a restaurant and pub on its main floor, or "commercial podium." The pub will not feature strippers, he said, noting Rize is not in that line of business and exotic dancers don't fit into the city's plans for redesigning the neighbourhood.

"The exotic dancing is probably not such an appropriate business for a residential neighbourhood," Shieh said.

The architecture firm of Busby Perkins and Will is designing the project, which aims to incorporate Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design principles.

Shieh described the project as a "triple bottom line development," where social housing, environmental design and profit are encompassed.

The project fits in with the city's plans to redevelop the land and properties under the north end of the Granville Bridge, said Karen Hoese, a city planner involved in the Yale/Cecil project.

The city's plan calls for a commercial centre that includes a small grocery store, drug store and other stores, possibly a restaurant, and offices or retail on the upper storeys of buildings.

The development will be modest in scale, with buildings ranging from one to four storeys, according to the city's Neighbourhood Commercial Centre plan.

see Yale Hotel

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