by Day Roberts
A topic which has been stewing in my mind for quite some time has been the gradual disappearance of various landmark eating establishments in our area over the years. I have been mentally masticating upon the many new restaurants that have recently opened their doors in Dawson Creek to add variety of fare and warmth of surroundings to the ever-changing cafe scene.
Travel back in time with me if you will, and remember a few of the eateries that have vanished from the local landscape.
In some instances the proprietorship and name changed while the restaurant remained in the same location, or later was rebuilt after being destroyed by fire.
Following the Dawson Creek fire and explosion of February 1943, the Five-Cent to a Dollar Store on the corner of 102nd Avenue and 11th Street (now where the Sunlite Cafe is located), was remodeled and became the American Lunch. In July 1945, Walter and Henry Wright bought the cafe, changed the name to the Arcadian Cafe and operated the business until 1947. They sold out and the restaurant became the Pacific Cafe, and later the Starlite Cafe operated by Pete Wing and Harry Dar.
For many years the Wing’s Cabaret was located where the Pagoda Restaurant now stands and was owned and operated by Jack Wing and Bill Der.
The Milk Bar was originally operated by the Fletchers and Carberrys, then Kay and Bill Miller took over and later moved the business west on 102nd Avenue in the Peter’s Home & Auto Building.
The Royal Cafe was located where the Saan Store is today, and was later purchased by Paul Mah and was moved to 17th Street where it became the Mile One Cafe.
Going further east along 102nd Avenue (on the site of the Mile Zero Hotel) the old Maple Leaf Hotel was remodeled and became the Shangri-la & Spanish Grill which operated from 1943 to 1945 when it was purchased by Aurele Carriere and became the Bluebird Cafe.
The Bluebird Cafe was later moved to Alaska Avenue where the Travelodge now stands, and still later was moved to Pouce Coupe and converted into a rooming house which was destroyed by fire in January 1980.
On the north side of 102nd Avenue where VanHoy Stationers is today, was Chick’s White Lunch.
In 1943 Mah Show and Mah Fong purchased the old Harper’s Store on the corner of 102nd Avenue and 10th Street (where the Bank of Montreal now stands), and opened and operated the New Palace Hotel and Cafe until 1967.
Going further west along 102nd Avenue in the Dudley & Wilson Building was Smittie’s Pancake House, which later became the Colonial Restaurant.
Young’s Coffee Shop was located further west on 102nd Avenue where the Windsor Hotel now stands.
The Empress Cafe was located on 10th Street where the Park Hotel stands today.
Ben’s White Spot was situated in the same building as the Alaska Cafe is today, and was operated by Ben Bonnet at that site in 1951-52, before moving south to where the School Board Offices now stand. Ben then operated under the same name in premises formerly occupied by Jean & Curly’s which was run by Jean and Curly Freeman in 1950-51.
On the present Royal Bank corner was Bert’s Fish & Chips operated by Bert Graham for many years.
The Alaska Chicken Inn was located on Alaska Avenue west of the Travelodge and was owned and operated by Dee and Bill Stewart until it was destroyed by fire in November 1972.
In the west tend of town was Pinky’s and Smitties’s Burger Bar.
Mann’s Cafe was located at 10412-8th Street in what is now Jake’s Apartments.
On 8th Street in more recent times we have had Dog ‘N’ Suds drive-in, which later became the Blue Boar Inn and is now the Kingsland Garden Restaurant.
Now, in the more recent past we have witnessed the disappearance of Tastee Freeze, the Hungry Cowboy, and Spaghetti Shack, just to name a few.
Nor shall we forget Pouce Coupe where Der Song operated Song’s Cafe from 1941 to 1975.
Also in Pouce was Brown’s Cafe, which delighted the palate from 1954 to 1970, under the proprietorship of Gertie and Jim Brown
For many years the Hart Hotel Dining Room at Pouce Coupe was the home away from home for many a hungry traveler.
These and many other coffee shops, snack counters, hotel restaurants, and various eateries have passed into time, and only remain as fleeting memories.
Editor’s note: most of the non-restaurant buildings used as reference points in this article have also moved or disappeared entirely by now (1998).