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Holy cow, the Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Company (AKA Brew Pub) is approaching its 21st anniversary. The Howe Sound Brew Pub

Unfortunately, this column simply isn’t spacious enough to fully do justice to such a milestone but let’s give ‘er a shot.

There is, though, one memory that is hard to imagine if you weren’t there to see it yourself. 

First, put your fears aside that there will be embarrassing/criminal stories told. Rest assured there are more than enough of those tasty tales around but they will have to wait until last call, or in some cases, when those involved have passed on.

Ahead of It’s Time

Let’s go back two decades to a kinder, gentler time… yeah right!!? It was a rough, drug and booze fueled small town.

Mountain Burger had twenty-four-hour delicious grease, peelers were at the Mexx (now the Barred Owl). Somewhere a hippie was getting beaten.

The Chieftain had a “ladies and escorts” entrance sign.

And Cleveland Avenue, south of the August Jack Motel, had nothing but a hardware store and over-grown fields.

Howe Sound Brew Pub Dave Fenn pouring the first Beer, 1996- Photo: Bryan Raiser
Dave Fenn pouring the first Club Pint, 1996- Photo: Bryan Raiser

It was here at the deep end of Cleveland avenue where the young Dave Fenn and Steve Shard had the vision to open a local Brew Pub, in what would surely become a world renowned destination.

Political Lightning Rod

Sure, the building was at the far end of a struggling downtown, but political assurances were made that downtown revitalization was council’s top priority and soon a vibrant core would be here. That revitalization was about fifteen years late.

The almost identical state of Cleveland avenue for almost twenty years is symbolic of the absolutely Herculean task it was to keep the pub afloat.

While one could go on about the fantastic craft brew’s, the amazing people, and legendary times, just as important is the building’s unintentional role as a political boycott lighting rod.

New Squamish + Old Squamish – The Term is Born

You see, The Brew Pub was built in an era when there were big cultural shifts happening in Squamish.

The logging industry was struggling and the tight-knit community was in transition.

The future was uncertain and they were being met by a new group of people moving to town; ones who were more interested in the aesthetic and recreation the area provided, not the industry that had sustained it.

The polarization in the community was catalyzed by the 1999 Elaho protests, where a protester camp was burned down by a group of loggers.  The community became divided in an “either-your-with-us -or- you’re -against- us” type of scenario. 

Then followed the wood chips” debate where the industrial vs. recreational vision of downtown Squamish further divided the community and the newly built Brew Pub became a symbol for the division. 

In fact, things were so ridiculous for the first decade that word spread of wives being forbidden from attending their annual Christmas Craft Fair.

Those were some dark days. When last call discussions would inevitably lead to deciding what souvenirs to grab if they boarded up the place tomorrow.

Howe Sound Pub – Wait to Be Seated

Ah, but this is Squamish, where only the strong survive and fortune favours those with a good heart and stubborn grit.

Sure enough, after the first decade, the surest sign that times had changed was a podium greeting guests at the front door saying “Please Wait To Be Seated”.

Now the community is exploding into an oceanfront alpine hub and the pub is expanding like all getout, winning award after award like it’s no big thing.

And while at times it has been an excruciatingly long wait, at least we had some unbelievably good times and beer to pass the days, years, and now decades away.

Cheers to The Brew Pub

Good things don’t come easily. The people you’ve seen, the parties you’ve hosted, and the road you’ve travelled is now a rich part of Squamish heritage.

Let’s raise a pint and cheers to the next 20 years.


Bryan Raiser

The author Bryan Raiser

Man about town. Living and loving straight out of Squamish.
Tags : beerhippieshowe sound brewingloggingopinion

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