Queen's University

Clark Hall Pub turns "the Big 4-0"

Clark Hall Pub marks its 40th anniversary this fall, and ENGSOC, which operates the pub, is hoping alumni will join in the celebrations.

When Clark Hall Pub opened its doors for the first time in the fall of 1971, it was a small lounge where beer was dispensed out of a cooler on Friday afternoons. Fast forward 40 years to 2011, and the Pub is a bustling campus social centre, hosting popular events and bands and serving students from all faculties.

Clark Hall Pub manager Erik GilesClark Hall Pub manager Erik Giles, Sc'12
(Holly Tousignant photo)

Brian Sterling, Sc’74, was the Pub’s first manager. He was on the Engineering Society executive at the time, in a role that put him in charge of the faculty’s social events.

Brian recalls that the idea for the pub first came up when he, EngSoc president John MacDonald, Sc’74, MSc’76, and the late Prof. Reg Clark, who was the Society’s faculty advisor, were reflecting on the success of a recent EngSoc ”smoker.” That event had been attended by students and professors and highlighted the need for a place where engineering students could spend some time with their profs without the formal setting of the classroom. A campus pub seemed like a logical gathering spot.

Brian fell into the roll of managing Canada’s first-ever entirely student-run pub, despite the fact he had no experience running such an establishment. He enlisted his roommates to help him serve and paid them with free beer.

“That is now totally illegal,” he says with a laugh.

Brian remembers the time a patron walked up to the piano that usually sat dormant in the lounge and began playing some ragtime tunes. Brian thinks this was the start of the Clark Hall tradition of live music, which set the stage for bands such as the Tragically Hip, Bedouin Soundclash and Arcade Fire to play there.

Brian also recalls how another Clark tradition began.

“After six weeks, I was talking to one of my buddies and I said, ‘You’re making a habit of being here on Friday afternoon.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’m making a bit of a ritual of it.’”

In honour of the Pub’s upcoming 40th anniversary, the current Clark staff is planning various special initiatives and celebrations. Manager Erik Giles says Clark is seeking photographs and stories from patrons past and present to liven up the Pub’s walls. Three patio events – one more than usual – are scheduled for this fall. One, set for Sept. 23, is being planned especially to celebrate the Pub’s 40th birthday.

“We hope alumni will show up,” he says. “Someone who went to Queen’s 40 years ago and a student today can connect and relate to one another, and so I’m really hoping that a lot of alumni come to help us celebrate and be part of a great year.”

For more information please email clark@engsoc.queensu.ca

Queen's Alumni Review, 2011 Issue #3Queen's Alumni Review
2011 Issue #3
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