If you’re of a certain age, you probably have some great stories about the Bruin Inn you'd love to share.
Were you there the night Mark Messier brought in the Stanley Cup? Did you get a photo? Did you drink from the cup? Better yet, did you get a photo of you drinking from the cup and now wish to tell everyone your story?
The beloved St. Albert institution was demolished more than 20 years ago, but now the Musée Héritage Museum is planning an exhibit for which it would really appreciate the public’s contributions.
Curator Joanne White said the museum is looking for photos and memories to help complement their archival materials for the spring exhibit.
“All of the above: if anybody's got anything. If they've got little artifacts or bits and pieces they'd like to donate, that would be wonderful, or things that they would like to lend us for the exhibition would be good, too,” she said.
The Bruin Inn has a storied history, one that put St. Albert on the map in many respects. Originally the site was used for the St. Albert Hotel (until it burned down in 1928) but the Bruin Inn really earned its reputation as a gathering place. At one point many decades ago, the province had rules about men and women drinking together in cities. Since St. Albert was still a town, that rule didn’t apply. Many savvy Edmonton couples traveled north for a quaff. Some say the little town doubled in population on a typical swinging Saturday night.
At one time, the inn had its own rule that people were only allowed to drink if they had a seat. That was a tough rule to follow, especially considering how crowded the place could become, until a light-bulb moment changed the whole game at the Swingin’ Door Saloon.
“Another rule was you weren't allowed to drink standing up so people would buy a whole case of beer — or two — and sit on them. Stack a couple of those up and they made a good bench,” White said.
The museum has the great bear statue and the Bruin Inn sign that will be the centre-points of the exhibit, along with a collection of archival photographs. Adding in the human elements is up to the public, even if those stories involve any of its various incarnations, such as hosting the city’s one and only strip club during a brief period.
People are encouraged to visit museeheritage.ca/exhibitions to access the submission form to enter their pieces of St. Albert’s history.
The Bruin Inn: 70 years of St. Albert’s Social Life is anticipated to be on display from May 3 to Aug. 21, 2022.