Friday, 22 May 2020

Stuff Around My Home -- Beverage Room Chair


In the corner of my bedroom, there is an old chair. The paint on its arms is worn and scarred, although the rest of the chair is in good condition. Like most bedroom chairs, it is not actually used for sitting on, as such. It serves instead as a place to pile my jeans, pyjama bottoms and the odd pair of shorts.


Where did I get this disreputable-looking chair?

It comes from the "Licensed Beverage Room" of The Queen's Hotel, an old country hotel in small town Saskatchewan outside of Regina.


[photo by Lawrence Hutchinson, 
taken in 1981, found here on Flickr ] 

The hotel was new in 1885, the year of the Riel Rebellion involving Native and Métis peoples, when Saskatchewan was not yet a province but simply a district in the North-West Territories. General Middleton, commander of the Canadian Militia sent from Eastern Canada to put down the Rebellion, billeted at the Queen's Hotel and made the town the marshalling point for his troops.

The Beverage Room was a later addition to the establishment, built in the 1930s. Under Saskatchewan liquor laws, a bar could not be a free-standing establishment. It had to be part of a hotel offering both a restaurant and sleeping quarters, so that total inebriates could eat, sleep and sober up, if need be, without driving anywhere.

During World War II, my maternal grandparents bought the Queen's Hotel and went into the hospitality business. My mother worked here in her youth. My parents' small wedding reception was at The Hotel. Although they subsequently moved to Manitoba (my father's home province), there was still a lot of traveling back and forth to The Hotel over the years. I spent a lot of time at The Hotel when I was a kid, right up into my early 20s.


[Beverage Room, Queen's Hotel, photo taken by 
Debra She Who Seeks, probably around 1980-ish?]

The Queen's Hotel is gone now, an empty lot all that remains. The hotel burned down in a 2003 fire that occurred about 15 years after my grandparents ceased owning the business.

When the family connection to The Hotel ended, my Mom took a couple of barroom chairs out of the Beverage Room as a keepsake. I don't know what happened to the other chair, but in due course I ended up with this one.


The Beverage Room was always the main moneymaker of the whole hotel operation. A lotta booze 'n beer were slung in that bar over the decades. How many drunken backsides have sat in that chair? Too many to count, I bet.

But now the chair leads a quiet, sober and sedate existence as my bedroom pants-piling spot. I wonder if it misses the old days?

54 comments:

L said...

It’s a handsome chair and looks great in your bedroom, but wow if it could talk, the stories it could tell eh’

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

This was a great post! I love the mini-history lesson and the story of the chair. I also love the fact that so many towns and cities have a "Queen's Hotel"! -Jenn

DEZMOND said...

That chair would look beautiful... in a lit fireplace.

anne marie in philly said...

what a history! if that chair could talk...

Parnassus said...

Hello Debra, A Victorian hotel--what a cool place to have the run of when you were a kid, and what a perfect souvenir. I hope your grandparents checked the building carefully for hidden caches of money, gold, etc. You always hear of those being found in old hotels!
--Jim

Marie Smith said...

Such history is that furniture! Pretty special!

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Ohhh I loved the story of the chair!
Who knew that it had lead such an exciting life! I'm sure it would have more than one story to tell.
Now I'm wondering what could have happened to the one other chair that your mom took with her...

XOXO

JanF said...

I'd like to imagine that your chair is enjoying its quiet life in retirement and watching your comings and goings, doing its part by guarding some of your clothes. I have a chair in our bedroom which has become a catch all for outfits I plan to wear again sometime the next day as I generally change clothes for different daily activities. My chair has no history at all but yours has a marvelous family connection! Could you "fix" its arms?
BGTW I simply love the quilted top on your dresser which had to have been specially made to fit, it is lovely.

Travel said...

What a wonderful connection to the past. I have five of the six chairs from my grandparents dining room set. There were married in August of 1926, the dining room set was bought as an engagement gift the summer before. Those chairs are 95 years old this summer. Still in use daily. (We had them redone a few years ago, they were falling apart and needed regluing.)

pam nash said...

Very cool chair! Very nice story. I have an odd little chair in my bedroom also though it is the perfect height for me to sit in and put on shoes that require lacing up. Nice to have something that recalls good memories.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love the story of this special chair! Oh, the asses it's seen...
I have a feeling it's enjoying the quiet retirement that it deserves.
How awesome of your Mom to think of keeping a few of them; she's a smartie.

Bob said...

It's nice to have that piece of family history. Cool story.

Leanna said...

I doubt it. It's still getting pants to sit on it. I would love to have a couple of those chairs. They're sturdy and comfortable of the back.

Moving with Mitchell said...

Well, that chair is charming even without its meaningful history. And it looks really comfortable. So, do you always fold and stack the clothes so neatly?

Linda said...

Do any of us miss being around drunks? I, for sure, do not.

Love the chair and the story Debra.

bobbie said...

What a wonderful memory maker that chair is!

Brian Joseph said...

Great post.

This is an interesting history, Sometimes I think about old places and objects and I wonder about all the people who occupied and used them.

Tasker Dunham said...

I have never known a chair described as "disreputable-looking" before, but it truly is.

Adam said...

Definitely a chair with history.

Mistress Maddie said...

It's things like this with a story that make the house a home! Great story Debs. When my beloved Raven closed I wanted to go to the auction to get a piece of it's long history, but couldn't get off work at the time.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

No I really doubt it's missing the old days, not because drunks who wet themselves sat on it, not because it almost was broken during a bar fight, not because it often smelled like a thousand cigarette butts... but because it's a chair.. it has no feelings Debra. I think you're losing it.. hahaha!
:D

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ coffeeontheporchwithme -- You're right, Jenn, there are a gazillion "Queen's Hotels" across small-town Canada. And your remark reminded me that there was a big photo of Queen Elizabeth II on the wall of my grandparents' Beverage Room too, LOL!

@ DEZMOND -- Which one are you, Colin or Justin? LOL

@ Parnassus (Jim) -- I don't know if they found any valuables in the old hotel, but I do know that my grandmother used to hide money in the Linen Room, tucked between all the towels and sheets, if she couldn't get to the bank. They found a few hundred bucks there after she passed away.

@JanF -- Thanks, I love that quilted runner on the bureau too! And no, it wasn't custom-made. I found it at a seniors craft sale and it just miraculously fit perfectly! And it was only 10 bucks -- what a steal!

@ Moving with Mitchell -- I've always been a bit of a neat freak.

@ Sooo-this-is-me -- You're absolutely right. I AM losing it, LOL!

Rosemary said...

When I looked at this post I had a sense, but I'm probably wrong, that you might like Piet Mondrian, the Dutch painter!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i think it's due for a night out on the town!

Jenn said...

How cool!! That is a great chair with some great history.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Rosemary -- Yes, I'm familiar with his abstract geometric art and like it very much!

brewella deville said...

Did anyone get that cool hotel/cafe sign? I hope it wasn't demolished.

Guillaume said...

This chair had quite a bit of history. In the end, it gathers some clothes. I guess that's what happens with old chairs. I love the cupboard next to it. Love the look of that hotel too.

Joanne Noragon said...

That's a lovely chair. It's great when they come accompanies by history.

Mike said...

What chair? How about the cool purple lamp shade? And the really cool table top art. What's that made of? And THEN Rosemary mentions Piet Mondrian and you mention his geometric art. I love art like that. I ran across a similar artist and forgot to save the link. Very similar to Mondrian.

So I look up geometric artists. Wikipedia has a list of 86 of them. I'm going to be busy for a while.

JACKIESUE said...

I love that chair..and if I had it I'd refurbish it ..cause that's what I do.I have a chair similar to it but no arms..but has the red seat..

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ brewella deville -- Unfortunately all the signage perished in the fire too.

@ Mike -- I'm glad you got a lot of interesting leads out of this post. It's a quilted runner on top of the bureau, but if you mean the artwork on the wall, it's a reproduction of a Lauren Harris painting, one of Canada's most famous artists who was active about 100 years ago with a bunch of fellow artists known as "the Group of Seven."

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Mike (again) -- Sorry, that should be LAWREN Harris. I inadvertently gave him a sex change.

Bea said...

Oh, man. If that chair could talk! I'll bet it was a treat for you to be able to spend so much time in that place. And I'm digging the booze laws of 30s Saskatchewan: drink up, then go up & put your feet up. No need to endanger oneself or others!

Lady M said...

She looks like a fine chair - such a legacy!

Mike said...

The quilted runner should be hanging on the wall.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Fabulous story - and what wonderful memories from your childhood. That chair is wonderful!! Perhaps it enjoys its quieter life these days.

Sue Bursztynski said...

It must be great to have something with a history just sitting around the house! I hope you sit on it sometimes?

Insomniac's Attic said...

I miss the ambience of all those old-timey saloons, and not just because I'm a total inebriate either. ;)

This N That said...

A very special chair indeed..Nice to know its history..You should print it out and tape it under the chair.A very interesting story..I think it's probably happy in the corner of your bedroom...Have a nice weekend..

Sakuranko said...

Oh very interesting
xx

Miss Val's Creations said...

What fantastic family history of this chair! Great idea of your mom's to grab a couple of them. I love how period shows and movies all seem to have those establishments of the bar with rooms to sleep upstairs. The laws were probably similar here considering Hollywood's portrayal of days long gone.

mshatch said...

The chair probably looks back on the old days with fondness. But now, the chair is retired, happily and quietly no doubt, glad it doesn't have to do much more than be your pants-piling spot in a warm sunny place.

e said...

What a lucky chair! And, lucky you, to have the chair to evoke memories. I think you should make yourself a gin and tonic and sit in the chair to drink it, just for old times sake. Lol. (I'm glad you haven't refinished it - patina is everything! Those worn places on the arms are authentic!)

Love, love, love the Lawren Harris print!!!

Magaly Guerrero said...

A chair with history. What else can a room ask for? I wonder if the chair spends time telling the rest of the furniture about her adventures (yes, I'm sure the chair is a girl).

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Wow, what a story. That Hotel is the type that would serve underage students skipping last class Tiquila Sunrises because those where the fanciest drugs we could get at the strip bar called the Windsor.

Mildred Ratched said...

I chuckled at all the memes right down to reading your story about the chair and then the story really touched my heart. I think the chair has found its suited retirement in your bedroom holding up your pants until you wear them, of course. It's held enough drunken asses during its lifetime. It's time to hold some nice, clean folded laundry for a change. If you think it really misses the old days, you can carefully mist it with some beer or a shot of whisky and sing it a song from some era long ago.

The Blog Fodder said...

What a great story. I wonder how many Queen's Hotels there were in Saskatchewan. There is a Facebook group called Old Saskatchewan that these pictures and story would be perfect for. Sign up, you would enjoy it.

Martha said...

Love this post! A chair with many memories and quite a history.

DVArtist said...

Great chair. I think it is happy where it is.

baili said...

Oh thanks to this beautiful chair so you were able to write such lovely post dear Debra :)))

how amazing that you maternal grandparents owned a wonderful hotel once where you spent many years
i can imagine how important this chair is for you now
something that connects you with old days with you loved ones is priceless indeed!
thank you for taking along my dear friend ,Hugs!
and yes i loved the majority of blue color in your first image :)

Fundy Blue said...

Fabulous post, Debra! I enjoyed this so much. I remember beverage rooms so well. What tales beloved objects can tell.

Magic Love Crow said...

I love the history and I love that chair! So happy you have it Deb! Big Hugs!

Magic Love Crow said...

Hey Deb, did you paint the top of your dresser? I love the colours and the design!