THE ORIGINAL HILLBILLY HIDEOUT
World-famous Big Bad John’s is an authentic hillbilly bar where you can relax and let your hair down. Add your own memento to the walls and make sure to throw your peanut shells on the floor! Be sure to bring your sense of humour, and you’ll see why BBJ’s has reached legendary status worldwide.
12:00PM – 2:00AM
7 Days a Week
919 Douglas St
THE STORY OF BIG BAD JOHN’S
In the 1940s and 50s, Victoria’s Olson family fought hard for the reversal of prohibition. Finally in 1952 by a margin of just 1.5%, a referendum passed allowing plans to be set in place for the sale of liquor by the glass in BC.
It wasn’t long before The Olsons’ hard work paid off, as John Olson built BC’s first-ever cocktail lounge – The Strathcona Room. It could only seat 32 patrons, and when it opened at 4 pm on Canada Day in 1954, it served the first-ever (legal) martini in the province.
Fast forward eight years to 1962, and the World’s Fair was in Seattle. To celebrate, the Strathcona Room was transformed temporarily into “Big Bad John’s Hillbilly Bar”. This was only meant to be for a few months – but the patrons wouldn’t stand to see it changed back. So now, almost sixty years later, Big Bad John’s is still unexpectedly going strong.
So, come and visit this endearingly unlikely success story. The very first bar in BC to serve liquor – where you can throw your peanut shells on the floor, hang your bra from the rafters, and meet our quirky crew of bartenders and regulars.
“Big Bad” John Olson (1930-2015)