Monday, August 26, 2013

Bayley’s Hotel (1857-1874), The First Hotel in Victoria, BC

Bayley’s Hotel (1857-1874)
Charles Alfred Bayley
(86-88) Yates Street, northeast corner with Government Street

1858 J. C. Keenan leased the bar.

1859 P. Manetta

1871 Morton & Richards

1874-1883 name changed to the

San Francisco Saloon leased by William H. Thistle.

1883 Building Demolished

Charles Alfred Bayley owned a shipping service that operated between Victoria and San Francisco. Bayley was convinced by a friend to open the first hotel in Victoria and in 1857 Bayley’s Hotel opened. The two-story hotel was a modest building with a few beds on the upper floor that catered to working class men such as sea-farers and miners; a saloon was on the ground floor. Oysters were the specialty served for lunch and dinner as shown on the sign above the entrance to the saloon. This was primarily for out of town guests as locals knew that oysters were plentiful and one could easily gather their own for free.


In April 1858 the hotel got an enormous boost in business with the arrival of gold-seekers heading for the Cariboo. “When the rush came in 1858 the upper flat, a mere loft, was furnished with cots and straw mattresses, and there the early gold seekers were wont to stretch their weary limbs at $2 per head and gasp for breath in a fetid and overcharged atmosphere till the morning light forced its way into the apartment through the tiny windows on the Yates street side.”


In the summer of 1858 John C Keenan leased the barroom where he dispensed cocktails at two bits a glass. Water was very scarce in the dry months - the supply being obtained from a spring at Spring Ridge and drawn about town in carts and delivered at people's doors. Consequently a 'bit' a glass for water was the tariff at all the town bars.

A glass of water cost fifteen cents at the Bayley Hotel, when one customer complained,  remarking that water should be free the bar tender retorted, “See here, young feller, be lucky you don't pay fifty cents for a drink of water, it's cheap at fifteen cents."
Bayley retired in April 1860 and sold his hotel. Soon more modern and larger hotels were built in town and for a number of years Bayley’s Hotel was converted into a meat market. In 1874 it reverted back to a bar as the San Francisco Saloon leased by William H. Thistle known as the Thistle Corner until the building was purchased by Thomas Trounce and demolished in 1883 replaced with the three-story brick Pritchard House.

Copyright by Glen Mofford


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