Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Old Cafe

We have a neighbour, who is located across the street and over a couple of lots from the Little Blue House. I should say neighbours, actually, because the sole occupants of the house are bats. Our kids are fascinated with this two-storey building, with its boarded-up windows and mysterious facade.

We often go for walks in Atlin, as it's full of such fascinating and mysterious Gold Rush era structures. According to Diane Solie Smith's book, A Guide to Atlin's Historic Buildings, this one has been a "cafe, a bakery, and sometimes there were rooms to rent upstairs. On the shady side, it was occasionally an outlet for bootleg liquor."

In Atlin, it seems, there is always a shady side. Or, perhaps, our small corner of town was simply the shady area... (There is another purpose-built brothel just around the corner from our LBH, which is a former brothel itself.)

The cafe was built in the mid-1920s by a fellow from New Zealand. The cafe was owned later on by a Norwegian named Kris Johnsen, an avid cross-country skier. According to Smith, "His rental rooms upstairs were immaculately clean and ready for overnight guests. However, when someone needed a place to stay, Kris most often declined the business."

The theory behind this unwillingness to rent out the beautiful rooms is that he did not wish to disturb their tidiness!

The building still has a For Sale sign on it, and it has been that way for decades. Despite several serious offers, the old cafe was never sold. Kris still owned the building when he passed away in his mid-90s.

The old cafe now leans to one side, and stares forward stoically, with its windows broken. Children peek through the gaps to see inside the darkened cafe. Remnants of the building's former purpose litter the floor, along with broken glass and cobwebs.

A Child Peeks Inside the Old Cafe

Atlin Walk

The Little Blue House, Viewed from the Old Cafe

On summer evenings, bats may be seen, swooping and diving for bugs. They appear to be the new residents of the Old Cafe, keeping watch over the place... at least during the night. Shady indeed.

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