Calgary at a Crossroads

As part of our Calgary at a Crossroads series, we explored what your favourite local watering hole reveals about you, your friends and how you create your very own community. 

Now it's time for a trip down memory lane for a glimpse at some of Calgary's oldest bars and the people who ran them, courtesy of the Glenbow Museum photo archives.

Some of these bars still stand today, while others only live on in our (sometimes blurry) memories. Feel free to reminisce and share yours below. 

1. King Edward Hotel 

king edward bar

Better known as the King Eddy, this bar was part of "whisky row," a strip of hotels along Ninth Avenue. In the '70s and '80s it became a blues bar where many musical legends performed including B.B. King and Buddy Guy

The National Music Centre is undertaking a project to carefully reconstruct the King Eddy brick by brick to look exactly as it did in 1905.

King Eddy bartenders

King Edward Hotel bartenders photographed in 1909. Alfred Boucher is in the back row on the left. The other three men are Georges Lalonde, Victor Despins and Leon Baudry. (Glenbow)

2. Bar of Alberta Hotel

bar of alberta hotel

The photo probably doesn't do it justice, but this was known as the longest bar in Alberta. Here are bartenders George Claire, left, and Fred Adams posing circa 1900. 

John Matthew McCloy

John Matthew McCloy in the bar of the Alberta Hotel circa 1907. (Glenbow)

3. Wainwright Hotel

wainwright hotel

The hotel burned down in 1929, but a reconstruction is in Heritage Park and includes an authentic saloon and elegant dining room.

4. New Noble Motor Hotel

New Noble Motor hotel

Here's one you can still find in the city, located at 119 12th Ave. S.W. It was renamed a couple of times — the Westward Inn and then the Holiday Inn — before finally becoming the Hotel Arts in 2008. Through the '80s and '90s, it was a hub for touring bands including Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Tragically Hip.

5. King George Hotel Bar

king george hotel

Located at 124 Ninth Ave. S.W., the hotel was later renamed the Carleton Hotel before it was demolished in 1978. In 1939, the basement of the hotel housed Boys Town, which became the Boys and Girls Club. 

6. St. Louis Hotel

St. Louis

It was no secret that the St. Louis was former Alberta premier and Calgary mayor Ralph Klein's favourite bar. It's now undergoing major renovations to bring it in line with modern building codes.


Calgary at a Crossroads is CBC Calgary's special focus on life in our city during the downturn. A look at Calgary's culture, identity and what it means to be Calgarian. Read more stories from the series at Calgary at a Crossroads.