Opinion: Iconic Burnaby pub where dad hit on my mom just a ghost town now

Chris Campbell

In a way, you could say I owe my life to Burnaby’s iconic Admiral Pub and Grill.

Located at Hastings and Gilmore in Burnaby Heights, it was the place where my dad met my mom in the early 1960s.

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“He tried to hit on me that night,” mom said the other day. “I shut that down right away.”

That, apparently, didn’t dissuade my dad from trying to put on the charm and, well, the rest is history.

The Admiral looks like it might be history too, at least in its current iteration.

The place is a ghost town. The Admiral has been shut down since March when COVID-19 hit and while most other businesses have reopened, it’s still dark inside. The Admiral website has been removed and phones calls just ring and ring with no voicemail.

There are rumours that it is for sale, so perhaps someone will eventually take over.

Hastings Street
Hastings Street in 1968, looking east from Gilmore Avenue. Signs for Wosk’s and the Admiral Hotel are visible across the street. - Contributed photo, City of Burnaby Archives, Harold H. Johnston, photo ID 483-068

The Admiral, of course, hasn’t always been the Admiral. After a long run under that name, for a while it became the North Burnaby Inn, complete with daily exotic dance shows. I can still remember an old high school friend getting tossed during his stag there after an ill-advised decision to jump on the NBI stage.

The NBI, for some, is (in)famous for once being raided by RCMP officers, who also raided former-B.C. premier Glen Clark’s home way back in 1999. This was all related to a notorious casino application that you can read about here.

Since then, it’s returned to its beloved Admiral name and my mom, now 81, still went there from time to time for a few pops with her friends.

She’s wishing that it reopens because it’s been such a constant part of the Heights neighbourhood for decades. My grandparents, who lived for so many years just down the block on Oxford Street, used to go there. It’s where they met many of their first Burnaby friends when they moved here from Oliver, B.C. all those years ago.

As far as I know, it’s Burnaby’s oldest pub and was filled with an old school vibe that so many corporate bars and pubs just can’t match.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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