Travels Through East Vancouver

Posts Tagged ‘Pubs’

The WISE

In East Van Institutions on February 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm

The posters are yellowing on the walls. Cracks in the ceiling seem to grow with every beer I finish. Someone is glued to the TV screen, watching Eddie Murphy in Beverley Hills Cop II. Darts are bouncing around the place, the players probably too drunk to have access to sharp pointy objects. At a table in the back a loud rant about the municipal election competes with a loud rant about organized labour and the need for a general strike. Just across from us a group of four huddles around drinks, their conversation a conspiratorial whisper about some upcoming political action. And at our table, people drop in and out of rambling discussions about books, and unions, and radical gossip about whoever and whatever.

It’s the WISE Club, and I’ve been coming here since the early 1990s when I discovered the spot after a folk music show in the upstairs hall. Meg’s been dropping in since she moved to the city in the mid-1990s. And though no doubt on countless occasions we’ve been at different tables here, engaged in different debates about exactly the same kinds of things, it’s only in this last couple of years that we’ve come together, the spot that was each of ours now the spot that is both of ours. Drinking-hole. Dank basement. Gathering place of communists, anarchists, writers, musicians, ne’er-do-wells, students, folkies and local drunks – and we’ve been all of these at various times in this place. It’s the WISE. It’s exactly what we want. But it sure as hell ain’t what it started out to be.

In 1957, Peggy Campbell, a Brit now living in Canada, contacted a Vancouver radio station with her name and information, hoping that she might track down others recently-immigrated from the UK for some social time and reminiscences of home. Responses came in, a little group was formed, and at Lochdale Hall on February 28, 1958, the WISE Club was officially founded. Taking its name from the acronym for Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English, the club based itself around regular gatherings for cards, darts, billiards and the like. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements