You Should Know About “Mike” the Bartender

Mike serving beer to customers in Beer Parlour. Source: Don Coltman, COV Archives, CVA-586-383.

Owned by Mr. & Mrs. Charles Winfield, ‘Mike’ was the assistant bartender at the Bowser Hotel in Bowser, B.C., a few kilometres north of Qualicum Beach in the 1930s and 40s. But, was a dog really serving beer to customers, or was this just a publicity stunt to attract tourists?

The locally famous cross between a sheepdog and a terrier was the subject of a Vancouver Sun newspaper account from 1940. According to his boss, Charles Winfield (who was quoted in the piece), Mike was “the ablest waiter” he had ever seen. Mike’s main job was to serve patrons who had asked for a bottle of beer. “He brings the bottle, trots away to return with an opener, and waits for the patron to pay him. If change is required he brings it back [by jumping] up on a chair and [placing] it on the table.” Even when the tavern was busy on a Saturday night, the dog never failed “to return change to the correct party.”

The only part of the bar service Mike did not perform was bringing the beer glass to the table, not because he couldn’t do this task, but because some patrons objected to it. Multi-talented, Mike was trained to carry packages as well as beer bottles, and he was often sent to fetch groceries from the local store.

Mike at the bar waiting to serve. Source: Don Coltman, COV Archives, CVA-586-384.

Not only a hard worker, Mike also had an altruistic side to him. In aid of Canada’s Second World War effort, The Bowser Hotel sold picture postcards bearing a photo of Mike (see below) in the early 1940s. Sold two for a quarter, all proceeds were donated to the Red Cross.

Mike’s Red Cross fundraising card. Source: Vancouver Sun September 14, 1940.

Much loved and celebrated, the occasion of Mike’s 7th birthday was even reported in the newspapers, in 1939. The festivities for this “pawspicious” event included a party attended by “32 children, Mike’s daughter ‘Limpy’, and ‘Moosey’, a tame deer”. Mike’s birthday presents included dog biscuits, bones, and the erection of a new sign – bearing Mike’s portrait – on the hotel.

Exterior of the Bowser Tavern with Mike, Limpy, Moosey and Mr. & Mrs. Winfield showing Mike’s 7th Birthday sign . Source: Don Coltman, COV Archives, CVA-586-386
There are 2 comments
  1. More about Mike: Just found out that Mike was so famous that he made the cover of LIFE Magazine for Nov. 5, 1940. Sadly, Mike was killed by a hit & run driver on January 2nd, 1941.

  2. There was no cover on Nov 5 1940,, wish it were true ! Looking for the picture that was used as a fund raiser for the Red Cross