Saturday, September 25, 2010

Portrait of a Saloon

First & Last Chance Saloon (St. Vincent, circa late 1800's)

You can tell me I'm wrong, but I won't believe you.

What am I talking about?  I'm referring to the fact that I firmly believe that what was once known as the First & Last Chance Saloon in St. Vincent, eventually became what was later known as Short's Cafe.

I base this on two main factors - location, and comparative known exterior architectural features.

First, location. I do not know, but I think I can safely assume, that the First & Last Chance Saloon likely and logically was so named because it was - depending on if you were coming from Pembina or leaving St. Vincent -  the 'first' or 'last' chance of obtaining an alcoholic beverage.  That would mean it was located near the bridge.  What was later known as Short's Cafe was located at the foot of the old Red River Bridge leading from St. Vincent to South Pembina.  Second, exterior features.  Although my comparison photo for the Short's Cafe does not show it, the cafe did have a western extension off the side of the main business, with tall gables just like the photo of the saloon shows.  By the time I knew the building, it had been greatly simplified, simple siding replacing the shingles on the face of the living quarters facing south.  However, the tall second-story windows of the business side - also facing south - along with the chimney, large display windows, and door location - are exactly the same during the cafe period as during the saloon period.  I think I can safely say, this is indeed the same building in both photos.

It is rare to see an intact buildling that evolved over that long a time period in my hometown.  So many buildings either burned down, were torn down, were moved, and/or were repurposed, that such indentification of their former 'lives' would be impossible.  Christ Church, the school building, even the jail house, are some of the few older buildings still surviving to this day in my little village.  A few older homes are still there, albeit greatly changed since their salad days.


Same Building in 1940's, now known as Short's Cafe