Stag & Pheasant – Water Street

Stag & Pheasant

Both the Archives and the Vancouver Public Library have a copy of this image; the Archives date it to around 1888; the Library think it’s the year before. Whichever is correct, this is an early Water Street hotel and saloon built close to Cambie Street and completed a month after the fire. It replaced an earlier saloon in the same location with the same name and was built by Charles Doering and his business partner Bernhardt Wrede. The new hotel had 14 double bedrooms, a dining room, and a bar. There were bagatelle tables and a billiard parlour.

George Cary identified two of the figures in front of the hotel; one was him (on the far left), the other his dog, who would chase up the maple tree at the other end of Water Street (before the fire) to retrieve balls of rolled up paper. The saloon was still operating in 1892 because the Texas Lake Ice Co delivered there, and Bernhard Wrede was back as the landlord.

Our image shows one of the city father’s more interesting ideas – the light in front of the saloon. The newly elected council of the new city determined in 1886 that every bar should have a light over the door. While this was supposedly to improve safety – at the time the city had a patchwork of wooden sidewalks with some severe drops where the ground had yet to be levelled – a circumstance that didn’t mix well with alcohol – the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union saw it as an opportunity to see – and be seen by – those who insisted on frequenting the saloons. The Stag and Pheasant was the first hostelry to recognise a potential advantage, and added the bar’s name to the light, creating the first illuminated advertisement in the city.

Charles Doering (who was actually Carl) sold the Stag and Pheasant to Fairon and Miller in 1888. Fairon was Alphonse Fairon, a Belgian who was in partnership with R G Desautels, from Quebec, and they ran the hotel from 1886 before acquiring it. The Miller was almost certainly Jonathan Miller who had a wide variety of business interests and seems to have had financial partnerships with both Fairon and Desautels at different times.

Doering in the meantime had moved on to running the Gambrinus Saloon, two doors east of the Stag and Pheasant, and then later in 1891 the Atlantic Beer Hall on Cordova. These were all sidelines to his main interest, the establishment of a brewery in Mount Pleasant which produced a light lager type beer that became increasingly popular. An 1892 alliance with Danish brewer Otto Mardstrand saw a considerable expansion in the business, which had its own bottling plant, ice plant and a 40 foot water wheel to power the grinding wheel. In 1900 the company merged with the Red Cross Brewery to become Vancouver Breweries, by which point Doering had become a wealthy man.

Ben Wrede met with a less fortunate end. Like Doering he was German, starting in Victoria in 1884 and then in Vancouver with the Brunswick Hotel with Doering. He had an interest in the Fountain Hotel on Cordova as well as the Stag & Pheasant, but in 1896 he caught ‘Klondike Gold Fever’. He moved to Lardeau City, and suffered a series of unstated ‘misfortunes’. Hoping for a change of luck he went prospecting in the ‘scarcely known Omineca country’ 400 miles from his last letter from Bear Lake. Mrs. Wrede was listed as a widow in 1897, his bleached body having been found over a year after he disappeared, having apparently bled to death while cutting firewood.

Carter House & The Anchor (Salvation Army) 1898By 1896 it seems to have become the American Hotel. In 1897 it became the Salvation Army’s home ‘The Anchor’ as this 1898 image shows, a role it retained for a number of years. By 1912, the last year it was apparently standing, it was M Aptaker’s second-hand store with the Calgary Rooms upstairs. In 1918 it was added to the substantial brick building that had been built to the immediate west, starting in 1908 and expanded to eventually form a six-storey factory and warehouse for the Leckie Boot and Shoe Co.

In 1898 Richard and William Leckie had opened a branch of their family’s Toronto based John Leckie and Company, which sold fishing supplies, oilskin clothing, imported netting, sails, tents, and marine hardware. Noticing demand for boots from fishermen and loggers, the Leckie brothers began investigating the idea of manufacturing their own footwear instead of selling other company’s products. In 1906 they purchased a small shoe factory and a tannery so that they would have complete control of the finished product. In 1908 they hired Dalton and Eveleigh to build a new building which was expanded in 1913 at a cost of $50,000 to include the site of the Stag and Pheasant. Following extensive renovations in 1990, including seismic upgrades, the building now offers office and retail space in Gastown.

Image sources CVA Hot P22.1 and  CVA Bu N166

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