A Note from the publisher
We’re living in an unprecedented moment in history, and it’s been amazing to see how people are pulling together to support one another. Here at TouchWood we’ve decided to ask our authors what has been keeping them busy during a time when we’ve all been asked to stay home to Flatten the Curve.
Greetings, I’m Glen Mofford. I research and write about the rich social history of the old hotels and drinking establishments of British Columbia. I have had the good fortune to share these non-fiction stories in two books published by TouchWood Editions: Aqua Vitae: A History of the Saloons and Hotel Bars of Victoria, 1851-1917 and Along the E&N: A Journey Back to the Historic Hotels of Vancouver Island.
Born into a navy family in Esquimalt in 1954, I grew up with a fascination of history—all those wonderful stories told by my grandfather and father together with social studies and history learned in school combined to make me a lifelong student of history.
In an effort to practice social distancing, my wife and I enjoy working around our home in Nanaimo, which was built in 1911 and once owned by the Fire Chief of Nanaimo (1945-1951). I also go for long walks to get away from the computer where I am currently working on a new writing project in the same vein as my previous books.
I am glad to share one of my favourite pieces from my most recent book, Along the E&N, about a most unusual employee hired and trained to work the tables at the Bowser Hotel beer parlour.
The Bowser Hotel, 1925–1969
Excerpted: Along the E&N
The Winfields put their hotel and the village of Bowser on the map by their choice of particularly unusual employees. The hotel and beer parlour was a menagerie (not including some of the customers) in which Cecil and Florence trained a deer, a racoon, a bear cub, and two dogs in the fine art of customer service—it was like an episode of The Waltons, cute and homey. The most famous of them all was Mike, a black and white English sheepdog–terrier cross that learned how to carry a bottle of beer in his mouth and bring it to a customer’s table. Mike even collected payment in his teeth and deposited it in the correct slot in the cash register. He then ran back with any change owing as well as a bottle opener. Mike the bartending dog was so good at his job that he earned a place on the hotel sign. “At closing time and when the last customer had left, Mike would slam the door with a resounding bang. ‘Go and Shut the door Mike’ was Cappy’s command.”