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.
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.
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.