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Hotels Visited


The story began over a century ago, with the railways expanding in every direction of the compass throughout Western Canada. Towns and settlements quickly sprang to life in their wake. Everything came or went by train and the area down by the depot became the centre of every business district.

A hotel was often one of the first buildings in these pioneer communities and usually found close to the tracks. That’s where the action was. In service of newly arrived settlers and entrepreneurs hoping to cash in on the boom, businesses such as this thrived.

Those heady days are a memory now and many towns have long since settled-in and today life goes on at a more relaxed pace. Formerly the focal point of so many communities, both big and small, these old hotels typically survive to the present day as local watering holes. While some still provide lodging in the traditional sense, many no longer do. The Tavern or Beer Parlour, as they were called years ago, is either the main, or for some, the sole source of income.

Historians, Researchers and Explorers Connie Biggart and Chris Doering, have teamed up with Fine Art Photographer Rob Pohl and his wife Margarit, to document these establishments before they vanish.

The Team intends to explore and record the history of these wonderful places before time and progress changes them forever. Their original character may soon be lost, and already many have disappeared altogether. With the clock ticking, the mission is of critical importance.

Through research, interviews, and with photography we’ll strive to document their past glories and show their present incarnations. It is an ambitious, multi-year project that will take us across the prairie provinces and even into the wilds of British Columbia.

With each visit our Team will conduct interviews with current owners and patrons alike. The older generation, who seem to frequent these establishments and who may have grown up knowing them, will be sought out specifically. Their wealth of information will otherwise be lost, if not documented now.

Our Team will be chronicling everything; interior and exterior, the people and the ambience. Both digital and film cameras will be used to capture the images. For film a variety of vintage gear will be used, including large format view cameras, to produce exhibition quality black and white silver gelatin prints.

Following each visit our Team will research the establishment and put together a back story to accompany the photographs.

The project minimally will take several years and may never be fully realized. We’ve only just begun and it has already been a wild ride and an indescribably entertaining adventure. At some point we will have accumulated enough material to allow us to move on to the next stages of the project.

Of course we’ll be sharing these adventures online and have already done so, but in the future there will also be gallery exhibitions, and a publishing deal is being pursued.

Connie Biggart and Chris Doering have extensive experience in projects of this nature and their enthusiasm is boundless. Through their online presence at BIGDoer.com they have accumulated a massive collection of images and documents on historic places and things. They are well known for being extremely conscientious and respectful in their work. Their experience in researching the past will be invaluable in seeing the project through.

Rob Pohl, with his wife Margarit acting as an assistant, is a dedicated film photographer with 30 plus years of experience. From beginning to end he demonstrates a steadfast commitment to the craft. Not satisfied to simply hand off his work to others, his black and white negatives are self-processed and printed in his own professional darkroom. Rob has been involved in numerous gallery exhibitions over the past couple of decades and in every sense is fully devoted to historical analogue methods.

The combination of talents brought by our Team are certain to yield outstanding results.

Whatever name one attaches to the local watering hole, be it the pub, the tavern, or the beer parlour, there is no doubt that the establishment has been witness to it’s fair share of history, as well as the drama of the human condition. Countless paycheques have been squandered away, many a fight has erupted, many a one night stand contrived, and many a romance kindled. Today these business enterprises are, for the most part, a little tamer than they would have been back in the heyday of small town settlement. As a team we find this slice of history fascinating and have chosen to celebrate it with our project. Please join us on our journey of exploration. Suggestions as to possible destinations are always welcome.


Rob Pohl Beer Parlour Project

Hosting FAQ

  • We’ll set up in a out of the way corner, if possible, and not just be there documenting the goings-on but be customers too.
  • We operate in the background and are minimally disruptive.
  • We do a call out before the event and our presence can draw a crowd, which will hopefully be good for business that day.
  • The Team utilizes a mix of modern digital and older film based equipment. This includes a large view camera which is a real curiosity.
  • Photos will be a mix of candid shots and formal portraits.
  • There is no charge for the portrait service and any subject desiring a print will be obliged. It takes time for the film to be developed and prints made, therefore these will be provided at some later date after our visit.
  • No one is photographed without permission.
  • Interviews will be carried out with staff and patrons to gain insight into the history of the establishment. This, combined with our own research, will help us to paint a picture of the venue.
  • Information and images collected during our visit will be used to supplement our project and may eventually appear on websites, in a gallery exhibit or book.
  • Subjects who agree to be photographed or recorded grant their permission to be included in our project with no further compensation. We are a non-profit endeavour and the Beer Parlour Project is for the sheer pleasure of the experience.
  • Two to four team members normally take part, and sometimes one or two guest photographers may also participate.

The Beer Parlour Project at the Victoria Hotel Bruderheim Alberta, February, 2024. Click to read full article (new tab).

Lamont Leader Beer Parlour Project

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The Beer Parlour Project will be at the following locations: