Historic Pool Hall & Barbershop...

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Rack 'em in the Historic Vilna Pool Hall & Barbershop...

Step back in time and enjoy your visit to an authentic, 1921 pool hall and barbershop. Located on Vilna’s Historic Main Street, this uncut jewel is Alberta’s oldest operating pool hall and barbershop.

A provincially designated registered historic resource, it features four turn-of-the-century pool tables including two 12 foot Brunswick Balke Collender snooker tables and two 8 foot Samuel May billiard tables.

The Pool Hall still boasts the original cues, balls, racks, Booker coal heater, benches, counters, advertisements, oiled wood floors and barbers chair.

It is operated by the Friends of the Vilna Pool Hall & Barbershop Society and is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Contact the Village Office for times at the town office.

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History of the Pool Hall & Barbershop

In 1921 Steve Pawluk built a two-story pool and dance hall. The Pool and Dance hall was a place of great enjoyment for the locals but due to prohibition, the town became a little wild and drunks would cause great damage in fights, and soon the hall burnt down.

With the ashes still smoldering, in that same year, Steve built another pool hall which stands today. In 1926 Steve rented it out to Sawka, and moved to Spedden and built a store there.

In 1933 John Taschuk moved from his farm in Bellis and bought the pool and barber shop. The business was in the front, and the living quarters were attached to the back. John ran the pool hall and hired Leo Wowk to be the Barber.

The building was not insulated, so it was very cold in winter and very hot in the summer. There was a pot-bellied wood and coal burning heater in one corner of the pool hall, with stove pipes extending from one corner to the other to distribute the heat in the winter.

In the attached house, there was a wood and coal burning stove in the kitchen. The two bedrooms were very cold in winter because it took quite a long time to heat them.

The pool hall floor was oiled periodically to keep the dust down. Along the walls were metal spittoons, which had to be cleaned often. There was no indoor plumbing, so John and his family had to get their fresh drinking water from a town pump, which was located where the hotel now stands.

They kept their water in special water pails with a dipper in each pail. One pail was kept in the pool hall, and one was kept in the kitchen. For washing dishes and clothes, and for taking baths, rainwater was collected in barrels beside the house. On wash days, first a tub of water was heated on top of the stove, and then clothes were washed by hand, using a scrubbing board. It usually took a whole day to wash clothes. There was no natural gas. Lamps in the pool hall and an oil lamp was used in the living quarters.

In those days, the price for a game of Boston was 5 cents and 10 cents game of snooker. John's son Bill and his wife Lilly Taschuk took over the store in 1947. Life in the pool hall in the 70's was primarily a male hangout. High school boys would skip to play pool. Every one came to the pool hall and they were good years. When the hippie generation came along though, the barber business suffered.

"The Beatles killed the Barber Shop" according to Bill. There were lots of fights in the pool hall. "The walls were red with blood", from time to time and several cues were broken. Women never entered the pool hall in the early days, as it was "no place for a lady". Today this town treasure for is open for the young and old to enjoy for many more years to come.

 

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