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Good ole days of the Boo Pub: Nostalgia for Cariboo Trail Hotel in Coquitlam

Iconic Coquitlam drinking spot remembered decades after demolition; it started out as a mid-century modern hotel with a Western theme.

An iconic Coquitlam drinking spot is still being talked about years after it was knocked down.

Who remembers the old Carboo Trail Hotel at the corner of North Road and Lougheed Highway?

It stood for about four decades, and for some, the old Boo Pub holds a place of honour, especially for those who grew up in the Tri-Cities in the '70s, '80s and '90s.

In a recent social media post, old timers recalled the friendly vibe, Boo Burgers and bands like Jerry Doucette and Headpins who played for the local crowd at the "Boo Pub."

"What impressed me was that on any given night a large group could meet up after work and always find a spot to settle into for a drink," recalled Allen Doolan, who recently posted a photo of the old hotel.

A welcoming place

In the photo, taken in 1960 by B.C.’s Ministry of the Provincial Secretary and Travel Industry (film and photographic branch), the Cariboo Trail Hotel looks new and welcoming

Why it was called Cariboo Trail — named after the wagon road along the Fraser Canyon to the gold fields — is not entirely clear.

However, the hotel capitalized on the Western theme with a matchbook cover reproduced here courtesy of Jordan Smith of Cardboard America, who bought it from a collector.

It features a covered wagon with a "Cariboo Trail or bust" sign.

The hotel also featured Western images of guns and cowboy boots in artwork on the walls of the restaurant in the early days.

It’s easy to imagine that back in the mid-50's, when the Lougheed Highway was built to follow the current alignment, the hotel was a popular rest stop for travellers.

It was also a place to dine and meetings were held there.

Western, 'modern' vibe

An undated photo from a postcard that looks to be from the 1960s shows a classy dining room, with panelled walls, mid-century modern chairs and white tablecloths.

In 1956, possibly when the building was just being built or completed, Coquitlam city councillors of the day supported the hotel getting direct access to Lougheed Highway.

These types of hotels that catered to blue collar workers and attracted local bands were commonplace along heavily-trafficked arterial routes in the the Lower Mainland.

Often they featured strippers.

The Barnet Hotel was another popular hangout in Port Moody, while the Turf motel in Surrey offered a similar vibe.

These bars were often more like beer halls, often with terry cloth table covers and cheep beer.

As the years went by, the pub at the Cariboo Trail Hotel became somewhat notorious and Coquitlam RCMP were often called to resolve fights.

Police called to bar fight

In 1987, the Tri-City News reported a fight broke out — with people throwing glasses — when a broadcast of a Sugar Ray Leonard boxing match was cancelled.

According to TCN archives, a call to management at the pub "produced a terse 'no comment.'"

In one video posted to YouTube from the mid 1990s, Mounties can be seen milling about outside the bar because of a fight.

In fact, by the time the owner David Yang wanted to redevelop the property in 1991, the city councillors at the time were more than happy to see a new establishment.

However, the scale of the $50 million project was "two and half times" greater than permitted by zoning and it was deemed "premature," according to minutes.

Still, "The objective of redevelopment of the existing hotel was positively received," the March 25, 1991 minutes stated.

The Tri-City News of the day reported that the 75-room hotel and 270-unit residential condominium development was attractive but premature "because of its unknown impact on traffic and the lack of solid SkyTrain and transit improvement plans."

Property worth $56M

We know how it all turned out, and the massive development went ahead.

The new Executive Plaza Hotel and retail shops rose on the site in 1998, according to BC Assessment, and the property is now worth more than $56 million.