The search for Capilano's student pub
// Jonty Davies

College students like to drink. One of the many perks that comes with newfound adulthood is the ability to define and practice your own levels of alcohol consumption. The college experience is a very social one and alcohol is known to lower inhibitions and encourage more outgoing behaviour in social circumstances. Whether positive or negative, drinking seems to be thoroughly integrated into post-secondary culture.


Currently, prospective drinkers from Capilano have to look off-campus to find a communal watering hole. There is no fixed alcohol-serving establishment anywhere at Capilano University, nor has there ever been. Many other universities play proud hosts to very student-friendly and economically sustainable pubs, but due to a few circumstantial realities at Capilano, we’re not in a position to see one just now.

According to Saam Nasirpourm, Food and Beverages Chairperson at the Capilano students’ union, there are a few reasons for this. Not only is Capilano a dry campus, but the university itself would not likely be running the pub due to liability issues, it would be the student union, as is the case at UBC and SFU. “In addition,” says Nasirpourm, “the University may be concerned about the economics surrounding a campus pub. This is also another reason why student unions run pubs – since student unions are run as not-for-profit, the economics are not nearly as critical as they would be to the university.”

It’s easy to understand where the liability comes in with the operation of a pub. It is clearly a huge financial investment that comes with a good deal of uncertainty. Many bars and restaurants in town fail quickly, even when they aren’t catering to a centralized community of young people in varying degrees of unemployment. Capilano also has a significantly smaller population than Vancouver’s other universities. UBC has an active population in the field of 54,000, versus Capilano’s 7,500 enrolled in credit programs, and UBC has four active campus pubs (although, somewhat tellingly, there used to be five, as one was recently closed.)

Nasirpourm continues: “At Capilano University, there is a contract between the University and Aramark that prohibits the Capilano Students’ Union from offering food services on campus. It’s not uncommon for universities to have monopolistic contracts with one third-party food service provider; however, most campuses offer an exception for their Student Union to offer some food services such as a pub. Unfortunately, this doesn’t exist at Capilano.”

Perhaps the demand for a food service provider, as determined by Capilano’s population, is low enough that a single third-party provider – in this case Aramark – can operate on an exclusivity contract. As it is, there have been expressions of the student bodies desire to diversify and the CSU are open to initiatives of expansion. They’ve taken input from students and have been considering the potential realities of a pub on campus, as well as other options, such as more locally-sourced and sustainable foods, an organic smoothie and protein shake bar, and more variety on the campus menu, among other ideas.


In the meantime, drinking will have to be undertaken by students off of the Capilano campus. Although there is a large demographic of Capilano students that live outside of North Vancouver, the area does have a good number of pubs that could fill in as the Capilano hangout. Here are a few of them to consider – responsibly, of course.

Sailor Hagar’s
86 Semisch Avenue

With a prime location just steps from Lonsdale Quay – the central transport hub in North Vancouver – and a very personable and familiar staff, Sailor Hagar’s is about as close as it gets to being in Cheers. Their vibe isn’t exactly “college”, though. It’s got very little sex appeal and not much in terms of a happening, jiggy vibe (one can picture the eponymous sailor drinking there after a hard day on the docks). It is, however, basically the only bar that offers pool, foosball, and darts. They also have beers optionally available in the legendary “Viking” pint – only slightly less than a pitcher and meant for solo-consumption, it will make you feel giddy as a hobbit staring over it. Sailor Hagar’s also has a great bar-food menu that’s almost unreasonably cheap. This isn’t a place where you’ll meet the love of your life, but a decent spot to hang out at with your pals.

Translink accessibility: 5/5
Cost: $
Atmosphere: No worries
What to wear: Whatever’s comfortable

Mosquito Creek Bar & Grill
2601 Westview Drive

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of an impromptu high school reunion that you definitely did not want to attend? Welcome to the Mosquito Creek on a Thursday night. Thursday is karaoke night, and if you went to high school in North Vancouver, you will know almost everyone there, except maybe the curiously ever-present cougars. It’s not necessarily everyone’s jam, but if you’re new to Capilano and you want to get out and about and maybe meet some new people, this a pretty good place to start. On most other nights, it’s a pretty casual spot, although it’s kind of out of the way. The menu is all right too, with one online review calling it “Earls with a pub slant.”

Translink accessibility: 2/5
Cost: $$
Atmosphere: Oh, you again
What to wear: Letterman jacket

The Narrows
1970 Spicers Road

The Narrows, formerly known as the Bridge Between, formerly known as the Maplewood, has been a fixture of the North Vancouver pub circuit for decades. It has changed hands frequently and the most recent incarnation is something of a departure for the space. They’ve taken to showcasing some cool local bands and even hosting beer-pong tournaments (clearly the most college-student-friendly activity imaginable). Despite the fact that the unfortunate location hasn’t changed – visibly and fragrantly adjacent to the city dump – its proximity to Phibbs Exchange makes it fairly accessible from Capilano. All of that and $3 dollar beers? Students welcome.

Translink accessibility: 2/5
Cost: $
Atmosphere: Dude, beer pong!
What to wear: Hair gel

Queen’s Cross
2989 Lonsdale Avenue
For appearance’s sake, the Queen’s Cross does a pretty solid job. It easily has the most authentic pub ambiance of all the North Van spots. If you’ve ever been to a real British public house, you will be impressed by the very strong evocation of that look and feel. Unfortunately for students, the Queen’s Cross is a very suburban establishment that exists to serve the members of the community around it. It’s pretty far up the Lonsdale hill, and in an older residential neighborhood. Consequently, the clientele is mostly older locals. Also, probably because of all this, it’s pretty expensive. It’s got regulars though, that’s for sure.

Translink accessibility: 3/5
Cost: $$$
Atmosphere: You’re not from around here, are you?
What to wear: Slacks

Village Taphouse
900 Main Street

It’s funny, actually. The Village Taphouse is a part of the manufactured landscape of Park Royal’s Village. It’s pretty hip and semi-casual, but the fact remains that the place has got very little appeal outside the superficial. It’s needlessly expensive and, until recently, the only redeeming quality was an awesome karaoke night (a karaoke night vastly superior to that of the Mosquito Creek). With that gone, there doesn’t seem to be much going for students. You might meet someone attractive, though.

Translink accessibility: 2/5
Cost: $$$$
Atmosphere: I just love tanning!
What to wear: Coloured polo with popped collar


When responsibly enjoyed, alcohol can be a positive social lubricant. When irresponsibly enjoyed, it can be a dangerous distorter of perception, and can lead to dangerous behaviour, as well as multiple health problems. Although almost every student has partaken at one time or another, a Journal of Studies on Alcohol article reported that 31 per cent of college students met the criteria for diagnosis for alcohol dependence according questionnaire-based self-reports about their drinking. Alcohol consumption can also lead to depression, which is the number one reason people drop out of university, so watch out.

In addition, most bars operate on a level of universal inclusion with many offering alternative lifestyle events and nights, so have a look around and see what fits you best – you might even find a spot where everybody knows your name. Cheers.

//Jonty Davies, web editor
//Graphics by Faye Alexander

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