Our history

BCHA’s 100th Anniversary

The BC Hotel Association (BCHA) was established on April 9th, 1917. While the details of our very early years are not as concrete, the impact that our organization and our members have had across the province is clear. Formed following the first convention of the Hotel Innkeeper’s Association of the Dominion of Canada in Winnipeg in September 1913, the BCHA shaped the foundation of the province’s hospitality industry. As more people filtered into and through BC, regional hotel keepers saw a need for a unified approach to the challenges they faced in this new economic climate. While there may have been few formal properties in the beginning, those in operation offered all the amenities and pleasures of the time.  

It is well known that the history of the accommodation industry is often closely tied to that of liquor, and the BCHA’s origins are no different. In 1924 a bill was passed in the legislature, giving hotels the exclusive right to sell beer by the glass. This regulation gave way to a boom of hotel construction to keep up with the licenses issued to sell draft beer. The close link between liquor and hotels was further cemented in a 1943 Colonist advertisement and public service announcement from the BCHA that stated the association’s commitment to advocating for the hospitality industry as a whole.

“The Association subscribes to the principle of moderation, but believes that temperance must be taught and not forced. Prohibition and compulsion have been proven ineffective in the past… The present curtailment of the beer allowance for the hotels of British Columbia is a restriction of personal liberty and is not in the interest of the common good or of the successful conduct of the war… But of far greater importance is the psychological effect of these new government restrictions upon the men of the Armed Services, the War Worker and the Private Citizen – who regard their right to a glass of beer, if they want it, as their own personal right and privilege. Fairness and equity to all citizens is the very foundation of an all-out War Effort.”

The BCHA has been a long-standing voice for the hospitality industry, and ultimately the communities served by its members. Whether it’s advocating for taxation that brings in much-needed revenue for community infrastructure projects, drawing attention to a growing affordable housing shortage, or during World War II in Vancouver, insisting on the importance of access to a cold beer, the BCHA has worked tirelessly to represent the best interests of its members.

With a look back at our rich history, we recognize the role that hotels have played in establishing a vibrant tourism industry and contributing to the strong BC economy. Our members stand out as landmarks in their communities, with images of The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, or the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver immediately evoking a sense of place, history, and legacy. The last century of service has seen our membership grow and change. Each of our members holds a piece of our history, and we are excited to spend this historic year celebrating with you.

We invite our members, new and old, to send along their stories and photos that celebrate the best of BC’s hotel history. As we reflect on 100 years, we also look forward to continuing our important work for our membership and community.