August 31, 1950 was a big day in the history of the Royal Hotel when owner Buck Berry and staff celebrated the opening of the Royal Hotel Beer Parlour.
Earlier that year the Royal Bank had vacated their Wellington & Main Street building, constructed in 1906 directly beside the Royal Hotel; for larger, more modern premises nearby at five corners. The Royal’s owner, Buck Berry saw this as an opportunity, and he purchased the vacant bank building. Buck proceeded to have a one -story addition built onto the rear of the existing building. The renovation of the previous bank space plus the new construction resulted in the Royal Hotel Beer Parlour. The newly expanded space could accommodate 350 thirsty patrons.
Due to the laws of the day, a partition was required to separate the men from women inside the bar; as well as requiring separate entrances. Men visiting the Royal Hotel’s Beer Parlour entered on Main Street while the entrance on Wellington was reserved for ladies and their “escorts”. There were strict regulations in place at the time that were meant to curtail saloon like behaviour and atmosphere in the beer parlours and this included keeping men and women from socializing. The fear at that time was that having women in beer parlours would encourage prostitution and drive up sexually transmitted disease numbers.
Some of the other rules included no stand-up bars. Patrons were to always remain seated, and waiters were hired to serve beer directly to each table. No food was offered and entertainment of any kind, including televisions, was prohibited.
An article from the Chilliwack Progress on August 30th, 1950 (page 7) described the new facilities with a “smart bar” (not really sure what that means), as having a “stylish interior” complete with leather covered chairs in the men’s section, a moveable partition and plush fabric covered seats for the ladies. The article also included several photos of the newly minted space.
The exterior of the addition was clad in a relatively new material for 1950 (a first in Chilliwack) called “permastone” a molded stone-like compound formed from a mixture of ground quartz, minerals and cement and meant to resemble stone blocks. Above the drinking establishment, five guest rooms were created on the upper floor of the old Royal Bank (we now have four; one has been converted to office space.)
Be sure to ask for a tour of our “bank wing” rooms in the historic Royal Hotel. Historical photos of the original Royal Bank adorn the walls and remind our guests of the history of the hotel and its connection to Chilliwack. The infamous Royal Hotel Beer Parlour is now home to Main Street’s “64” a meeting, wedding & event venue. Book your next meeting or event at the historic Royal Hotel.