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With Railway Club Gone, a Lament for Vancouver's Vanishing Venues

Storied venue closes doors after hosting performers for over seven decades.

Submitted by Tyee Staff, 4 Apr 2016


Vancouver's beloved Railway Club, which first opened its doors in 1931, announced its immediate closure on March 29. The club's owners explained they couldn't keep up with the high expenses and high rent.

The Railway Club is where k.d. lang and Spirit of the West got their earliest starts. Blue Rodeo, Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan, Los Lobos and The Tragically Hip, among others, have graced the stage over the years.

The venue is one of many in Vancouver that have closed their doors over the years. Gone are the Sugar Refinery, the Marco Polo and, most recently, Electric Owl. Some like the Starfish Room and Richard's on Richards have been bulldozed to make way for condos.

The Waldorf was a near miss, too. There was hot controversy over its purchase by a developer in 2013 with plans to rezone the property, but the Waldorf was reinvented as a boutique hotel and still hosts live performers.

This live performance of "Condos" by Canadian singer-songwriter Geoff Berner was recorded at what was thought to be the last show at the original Waldorf by Vancouver YouTube channel EveryDayMusicTV. Though it's unlikely that the Railway Club space will meet the wrecking ball as it's a heritage building, the song is a fitting lament for venues vanishing from unaffordability.

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