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On tap first?

On tap first?

RE: “Clark Hall Pub turns the big 4-0”
ISSUE #3-2011, P. 14

This article brought back many memories for me. I cannot with any assurance argue with the facts stated by the author.

That said, in the spring of 1969 Ross McGregor, Arts’70, then President of the AMS, tasked me with the establishment of a pub in the Students’ Memorial Union building. All elements of the University from administration, to physical plant, to staff and students (especially students) were very supportive.

Being somewhat naive, I thought this was something that would virtually appear overnight. I am unable to recall what needed to be done within the hierarchy of the University. However, Principal John Deutsch handled all of that willingly and efficiently. The real trouble came with the fire and liquor regulations.

Notwithstanding, it all fell into place (albeit a few weeks late), and the Principal and I shared the first beer. I even think that he bought. The Grand Opening was in the fall of 1969. The pub, managed by Bob Buller, Arts’72, MBA’77, was entirely student run. Thus the reason for my letter.

It is my recollection that the Clark Hall Pub was already functioning when the AMS Pub opened. If so, it is older than 40; if not, Bob Buller should get the nod for managing Canada’s first-ever, entirely student-run pub.

On an entirely different note, the article regarding Shelagh Rogers, Artsci’78, reminded me of one of the funniest things I have ever seen on television. As indicated in the article “New honors for one of Canada’s household names” (p. 20), Shelagh was the “Weather Girl” at CKWS-TV in Kingston. The area had been suffering from torrential rain for two or three days. When Shelagh came on to do the late-night weather, she was dressed in a duck outfit. I have absolutely no recollection as to what she said because her outfit said it all.


When the Review contacted Robert Buller he recalled, “The AMS opened ‘The House of Commons’ first. Ross McGregor did, indeed, initiate the first pub, and Rod Follwell, looking for expertise, found me. I was AMS Council Speaker that year so was around.

“I had three summers in beverage services employment at Bigwin Inn in Muskoka, and so I knew how to run a small bar. I won the competition to become the first manager, paid only a modest honorarium (as with AMS practice of the times). The staff of seven (chosen from many applicants – all students) actually had paying jobs, and, of course, tips.

“We picked a little-used upper lounge in the Student Union building, and converted an adjacent closet into the serving area with a pass-through. Tables and chairs were purchased, some artwork, and new carpeting. A contest was held for the name and ‘The House of Commons’ was chosen. Ross McGregor, Arts’70, did the lettering for our first logo, which was printed on coasters. Refrigerator, cash register, glasses, trays, etc. were all purchased in the first few weeks of the fall term 1969. Servers wore white shirts and ties.

“The licensing was all legal through Special Occasion permits, as we were only open two nights per week at first Friday and Saturday, 8 pm-1 am, I think.

“The pub was an instant success, always full, prices were fair, and the place made enough profit to re-invest and provide a modest return to the AMS.

“Rod is quite correct to highlight the support of then-Principal Dr John Deutsch, who helped us with the myriad of administrative details.

“When others took over from me, the pub stayed open three days per week (noise was an issue as the Student’s Union was adjacent to Grad Residence and students lived down the hall)

“The House of Commons morphed into Alfie’s when the John Deutsch University Centre opened a few years later. This was well before Clark Hall, as Rod suspects.”

Robert Buller, former President of the QUAA (1989-90) and Director of Alumni Affairs (1991-1993), now lives in New Westminster, BC, where he is the Dean of Commerce and Business Administration at Douglas College. – Ed.


[Queen's Alumni Review 2011-4 cover]