25 years of the Ship & Anchor: Sitting down with regulars

By Lisa Wilton
Illustration: Tom Bagley

Illustration: Tom Bagley

CALGARY — The Ship & Anchor may not be the place where everybody knows your name. But if you’re a regular it can feel like it some days. BeatRoute sat down with a few patrons who may or may not use the Ship as a second living room. The group consisted of old-schoolers Tim Neis (TN), Tim Daigle (TD), Karen Richards (KR) and Krista Marshall (KM), who have been frequenting the 17th Avenue watering hole for more than 15 years and those like Michael Smith (MS), Suzanne Tetrault (ST) and Janet McPhee (JM), who have discovered the Ship in recent years.

BeatRoute: Do you remember the first time?

MS: Started coming in 2010 during the World Cup. They had their 8 a.m. breakfast and it became a routine. Everybody’s so laidback and you feel welcome.

TN: I’ve been coming here since it pretty much opened. I’m a born-and-bred Calgarian and I just wandered onto it when I was walking down 17th one day. It just felt like the place for me. There wasn’t a lot of other stuff around here.

Electric Avenue was a place you wanted to avoid and Stephen Avenue rolled up the carpet at 5 o’clock, so it was the coolest place you could go.

ST: I used to walk by these huge lineups all the time and it always looked like people were having a friggin’ good time. I was 18 when I first got in eight years ago and I was like, “Yep, this is the place for me.” There are 90-year-olds here, there are 18-year-olds here and everyone is welcome. I think that’s rad.

JM: My first time here was in 2002. It was my first Christmas away from home. I’m from Nova Scotia and the décor reminds me of home. Everyone is so friendly too, so it reminds me of pubs back home. I just felt comfortable right away.

KM: I came here 18 years ago from small town New Brunswick. I moved in with a bunch of other Maritimers and they were like, “We have to take you to the Ship. It’s just like home.” The décor, the people, I could buy Maritime beer. So many friends I have now I met on the patio of the Ship on a Sunday afternoon.

KR: I started coming here in 1991. I was dating a guy who worked here. I’d never seen a place where old men had their own beer mugs. I played for the Ship & Anchor baseball team for about seven years. All my friends came here and I probably came here five or six days a week throughout the ‘90s.

BR: What is your favourite Ship memory? If you can remember any!

ST: I think for me it’s Rob & Eric’s Acoustic Punk Rock Sing-a-Long in the summer. The first year it happened, we were so loud. They play punk rock and everybody sings along and people stand on tables on the patio. The cops came by so many times and there were so many noise complaints, but we didn’t care. We know the cops love the Ship as much as we do.

JM: The curling bonspiel every year is just the best time. That’s one thing I love about the Ship is that they put on all these great events. There’s one team of regulars who show up to win and the rest just sort of half-ass their way through it and just have fun. That’s what’s so awesome about it.

KR: I really love British New Year’s. It’s such a fun time, especially when you’re old. You can party down all afternoon and get home a bit early. It’s such an unusual tradition and it’s always packed with all of our friends.

TD: My favourite memory is from when they first built the patio. It was a makeshift patio with white plastic tables and chairs and they planted a couple of trees. Living across the street it was great. Because people now started to come outside and I could see from my place if my friends were at the pub, I knew exactly when I could go to the pub just by looking out my window.

BR: What’s so special about Ship & Anchor?

KM: In other places, bartenders know what you drink if you tip well. But the staff here, they know your stories. They know what I do and they’re active in my life. It’s not just a bar; it’s a community, as cheesy as it sounds.

TD: From walking in on almost day one, it has been a progression of craziness. You can meet your grandfather here. You can’t go anywhere else in Calgary where you can meet so many people who are so friendly from so many different walks of life.

KM: Totally. You can have the guy who was panhandling on the corner to make enough to come in for a beer sitting next to a guy who owns a multi-million dollar corporation.

TD: And nobody here treats any of them differently.

BeatRoute Magazine December 2015 Alberta print edition cover. Illustration: Tom Bagley

BeatRoute Magazine December 2015 Alberta print edition cover.
Illustration: Tom Bagley

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