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Andrew King: The Beachcomber Room, Ottawa’s original 1960s Tiki bar

A tiki-mug and an original Ottawa Tiki-bar menu.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew King has contributed several pieces to OttawaStart about our city’s forgotten motels. Most recently, we collaborated on a search for two motels in the Greenbelt outside of Bells Corners. Before that, he wrote about the old Talisman Hotel on Carling Avenue. This latest episode takes us back into the Talisman, on a visit to the Beachcomber Room, where “Swingers, sophisticates, chicks and cats make the liveliest scene in town…” This post originally appeared on Andrew’s blog, Ottawa Rewind.

We’d love to hear from our readers about any memories they have from the Beachcomber Room. Add your comments below or email feedback@ottawastart.com

“Swingers, sophisticates, chicks and cats make the liveliest scene in town…”  The Talisman is now the Travelodge Hotel. Scan from 1960’s event magazine “What’s On in Ottawa”

“Swingers, sophisticates, chicks and cats make the liveliest scene in town…” The Talisman is now the Travelodge Hotel. Scan from 1960’s event magazine “What’s On in Ottawa”.

Every city has its favourite night clubs, most of them enjoying the spotlight for a few years before something trendier comes along. Every decade has its hot spots, and in the 1960s, one of the hottest, or should I say coolest night clubs was Ottawa’s “Beachcomber Room”. Located in the Talisman Motor Inn on Carling Avenue, the Beachcomber Room boasted the latest in Tiki culture and entertainment through the vision of Talisman designer William Teron.

Original 1960s postcard of the Talisman Motor Inn that contained the Beachcomber Room

Original 1960s postcard of the Talisman Motor Inn that contained the Beachcomber Room   Built in 1963 as Ottawa’s premier business convention centre and hotel, Teron designed the Talisman with a South Pacific theme, including a very faithful replica of a tranquil Japanese garden at the center of the motel. The Beachcomber Room was “flamboyantly decorated in a Tahitian motif” and also featured a 90-foot mural painted by Count Alex Van Svodoba, who also completed a mural at Carleton University.

The Talisman Motor Inn as it appeared in 1989. All original signs have since been removed.

The Talisman Motor Inn as it appeared in 1989. All original signs have since been removed.

The Polynesian theme of the Beachcomber Room was in tune with the popularity of the Tiki culture during the mid-century era, which was based primarily on “Don the Beachcomber’s” in Hollywood, California. Credited as being the first tiki restaurant that all others copied, its founder, Donn Beach, was the first to mix flavored syrups and fresh fruit juices with rum. The trend became the hot ticket for Hollywood stars and elite, making the Tiki-theme a nationwide phenomenon.  Ottawa was no exception, with The Tabu opening in the old Beacon Arms Hotel (now the Capital Hotel & Suites) in the early sixties and The Beachcomber Room opening soon afterwards in 1963, taking its name directly from the original Hollywood establishment.

A newspaper ad from the Ottawa Citizen describing the Beachcomber Room with its GO-Go Girls and

A newspaper ad from a late 1960s Ottawa Citizen describing the Beachcomber Room with its GO-Go Girls to make “you surge with emotion”[/caption]

Enjoying almost three decades of popularity as Ottawa’s hottest drinking and entertainment establishment, the Beachcomber Room was THE place to dance, listen to live music and enjoy the quintessential Tiki Mai Tai cocktail. However, as with most bars, its popularity wained and the Talisman name was dropped when it became a Travelodge and it was extensively renovated with a Kids Water Park and its unique Polynesian theme was lost.  Remnants of the Japanese gardens are still visible today, as are some architectural details from its illustrious past. But where was the Beachcomber Room? What is left of it? Lets comb the beach…

Approaching the old Talisman, its unique 1960s architectural style by Bill Teron is still evident.

Approaching the old Talisman, its unique 1960s architectural style by Bill Teron is still evident.

Original postcard of the Talisman central Japanese Garden...

Original postcard of the Talisman central Japanese Garden…

...and that same view as it looks today.

…and that same view as it looks today.

Some left over relics from the old South Pacific themed Talisman can be spotted around the present day hotel, like this Japanese hutch.

Some left over relics from the old South Pacific themed Talisman can be spotted around the present day hotel, like this Japanese hutch.

More relics of the Talisman's glorious Polynesian past...some wall hangings on a wall hidden by an emergency exit.

More relics of the Talisman’s glorious Polynesian past…some wall hangings on a wall hidden by an emergency exit.

A 1963 newspaper article describes the Beachcomber Room as being "downstairs"

A 1963 newspaper article describes the Beachcomber Room as being “downstairs”

A clue...marked on an old sign in the stairway is "BEACHCOMBER ROOM"

A clue…marked on an old sign in the stairway is “BEACHCOMBER ROOM”

Another sign clue is leading us downstairs in the direction of the Beachcomber Room.

Another sign clue is leading us downstairs in the direction of the Beachcomber Room.

...and there it is. I have no idea what lies behind those doors and if the original 1963 Polynesian themed mural by Count Alex Von Svodoba is still in there.

…and there it is. I have no idea what lies behind those doors and if the original 1963 Polynesian themed mural by Count Alex Von Svodoba is still in there.

These abandoned stairs would have lead you down to Ottawa's hottest nightclub, the long lost original tiki-bar known as...THE BEACHCOMBER ROOM.

These abandoned stairs would have lead you down to Ottawa’s hottest nightclub, the long lost original tiki-bar known as…THE BEACHCOMBER ROOM.

The current hotel website says you can rent out the 5600 square foot "Beachcomber Room"....Tiki-party anyone?

The current hotel website says you can rent out the 5600 square foot “Beachcomber Room”….Tiki-party anyone?