Aqua Vitae

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

By (author): Glen A. Mofford
ISBN 9781771511896
Softcover | Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Book Dimensions: 5.5 in x 8 in
280 Pages

About the Book

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(s)

Glen A. Mofford is a historian and a writer with a passion for sharing the social history of British Columbia. He graduated from Vancouver's Simon Fraser University, and has been writing about BC's historic hotels and their drinking establishments for more than ten years. Aqua Vitae is his first book. Follow him on Twitter @BCPubHistory.


“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.” —Dave Obee, Times Colonist

Aqua Vitae is a well-crafted social history . . . a very readable balance of entertainment, reference and original scholarship.” —The Ormsby Review