Ladies and Escorts — the Sign

Ladies and Escorts

When I first came to Vancouver in the late 60s, I noticed that all the hotel beer parlors had two entrances. One was labeled Men or Gentlemen and the other was labeled Ladies and Escorts. In most cases they led into the same room, but in a few cases there was a divider between the two sides.

It turns out this was the result of a law — repealed in 1963 — which stipulated that  women could not enter the men’s section, and men could not enter the ladies section unless accompanied by a lady.

This was a wartime measure intended to prevent the spread of STDs or VD as they were known then. It seems the lawmakers thought that any woman who went into a bar alone was at best of low morals or at worst a prostitute. Apparently the men were not to be blamed for the consequences.

Since prohibition ended in 1917, BC always had very restrictive liquor laws. No booze on Sundays.  No liquor served in restaurants. The rules gradually were relaxed until the final big one, Sunday drinks, was repealed in time for Expo ’86. The government realized we looked like provincial hicks to visitors from Europe and Asia. It has been all downhill from there…