The History of the Wheatsheaf Pub
The Wheatsheaf is one of the best known Nanaimo pubs. It is family-owned, a community fixture and landmark, and has the distinction of being the oldest Inn in BC to be operating under its original liquor license.
The building was originally built by Eric Mckay around 1880 as a log cabin.
In 1882, George Taylor bought it and wanted to open it as a stagecoach stop with a licensed saloon. His plan to get a liquor license, however, was denied multiple times over the years.
Finally, in 1885, The Wheatsheaf received a special permit, and became licensed to sell alcohol. The rationale at the time was, since there were no sleeping or dining quarters, it couldn’t be considered a hotel, so it became licensed as a saloon and livery stable. Women were not allowed inside in those days, and patrons had to stand while they drank, presuming that if they were able to stand, they were sober.
In 1904, George Taylor unexpectedly died and the property was picked up in 1910 at an auction by Andrew Mahle.
The Wheatsheaf ran until 1917, when Prohibition began in BC, and the property had to end its liquor service. Prohibition was repealed three years later in 1920, and the liquor license was returned. However, the laws had changed so that no hard liquor could be served and standing was not allowed. Instead, all patrons had to be seated, and the Wheatsheaf had become a beer parlour.
In 1933, Andrew Mahle died and the building remained in their family until it was sold to Paul and Lesley Lingstrom. Art and Marion Hutt purchased it from them in 1978, and became the original owners of the modern-day Wheatsheaf Pub. When they purchased the pub, they also bought the hayfield (at the time) across the street. That hayfield was a Art’s gift to his wife, as she told him she wanted to have green grass nearby.
With Marion passing away in 1988 and Art in 2002, ‘”The Wheaty”, to this day, truly remains a family affair, as it is still run by the three Hutt siblings: Dee, Jim, and Brian.
In 1992, being an avid sports fan, Art decided it made no sense that there weren’t local sports fields for the kids in the community, who, instead, would have to drive long distances to play in other parts of Nanaimo. The family converted the hayfield into what is known today as the Wheatsheaf Sports Complex, which proudly hosts four softball leagues, as well as soccer matches, volleyball tournaments, and assorted community events.
Today, the Wheatsheaf Pub is known as an iconic Nanaimo watering hole for locals and visitors alike. People come here to play crib or pool, drink a frosty pint, enjoy our amazing menu featuring homemade pizzas and perogies, and to take part in special events like our Poker Runs, Hot Rod Club, and our Thursday Night Music Trivia–one of BC’s oldest and longest-running.
It is also a standing ritual in the Nanaimo community that when people get married locally, they then come to the Wheatsheaf. Couples take a picture on our front steps then come inside to do a shot and the brides kiss our stuffed moose, both thought to bring the marriage good luck. Over 30 couples (still happily married, we think!) have followed this tradition over the years!
Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions about Wheatsheaf Pub history.