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Aqua Vitae

A History of the Saloons and Hotel Bars of Victoria, 1851-1917

by (author) Glen A. Mofford

TouchWood Editions
Initial publish date
Oct 2016
Social History, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2016
    List Price

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A rowdy, rollicking popular history that celebrates the tales of Victoria’s drinking establishments in their heyday.

From the raunchy saloons that lined Victoria’s notorious Johnson street to the lavish high-class hotel-bars like the Driard and the Empress, Aqua Vitae is a collection of fascinating true stories from the days of swinging doors, smoky bars, and five-cent beers.

Read about how the quick actions of an employee of the Bee-hive saloon saved a young Emily Carr from possible death. Discover the gruesome secret uncovered by a startled worker who was prying up the floorboards of the Omineca saloon. And find out about the grisly murder of Mike Powers, the proprietor of the Garrick’s Head, a pub that still does a thriving business today.

Carefully researched and accompanied by 70+ archival photos, Aqua Vitae covers the time from when the first saloon appeared in Victoria in 1851 to 1917 when prohibition shut the party down.

About the author

Glen A. Mofford is the author of Aqua Vitae (2016) and Along the E&N (2019). A graduate of Simon Fraser University, he was a historian and a writer with a passion for sharing the social history of BC's hotels and their drinking establishments, which he wrote about for more than ten years. He passed away in February 2022.

Glen A. Mofford's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Mofford is certainly qualified as an expert . . . Aqua Vitae is richly illustrated with photos, drawings and, best of all, maps. It is a comprehensive guide that is easy to read. Beyond that, it is fascinating, dealing with a topic that has been ignored despite the impact that alcohol, and access to it, had on our ancestors."

Times Colonist

"Aqua Vitae is a well-crafted social history . . . a very readable balance of entertainment, reference and original scholarship."

The Ormsby Review

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