The Yale Hotel neon signage

After 130 years, you’d be ready for a makeover too! The Yale Hotel, one of Vancouver’s best-loved venues for live blues, jazz, R&B and soul, is about to undergo a huge renovation.

Pool Tables

Before they close their doors though, they’ll be setting the city alive with five days of concerts, starting November 16 until their final night, Sunday, November 20. On the 21st, the doors will be shut. Rize Alliance Properties will begin renovating this landmark nightlife spot starting in December.

The Yale Hotel 11-3-2011

A former Canadian Pacific Railway bunkhouse (originally serving the mining, logging, fishing and railway communities), The Yale Hotel will cease operations for an estimated 12 months, in order to ensure its preservation of live music for future generations.

Yale Interior

Designed by Noble Stonestreet Hoffar (also known as N.S. Hoffar) in the 1880’s and valued for its striking Second Empire architectural style, The Yale Hotel will soon become a designated downtown core heritage building by the City of Vancouver. Sole survivor of the great 1886 Vancouver fire, The Yale Hotel became a gathering place for members of the community and in 1889 was refurbished and renamed The Colonial, known for its wild nightlife scene.

The Yale Hotel lighting I

In 1911, The Yale Hotel reverted back to its original name and decades later became the focal point for live music in Western Canada, presenting music celebrities such as John Lee Hooker, Koko Taylor, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Pinetop Perkins, Johnny Winter and Jeff Healey.

David Honeyboy Edwar
[David “Honeyboy” Edwards photo by James Dittiger]

I got the renovation run-down from Joe Luciak, Music Director for the Yale. An entire laundry list of upgrades will take place over the next year, including:

– Upgraded sound system and audio engineering facilities
– Raised ceiling above main show room floor (in front of stage)
– Expanded hardwood dance floor
– Kitchen facilities
– Modernized systems (plumbing, lighting, heat, air conditioning)

The Yale Hotel lighting II

“This is our opportunity to thank Vancouverites including the musicians, music patrons and business community for their continued support over the years. The public can be rest assured that when The Yale Hotel reopens, it will be forever,” adds Luciak.

Joe also stressed via email that “The Yale will always be the Yale.”


Incognito with Nadine States
[Incognito with Nadine States]

I visited The Yale for a recent show featuring Incognito with Nadine States, one of the venue’s favourite bands.

Incognito with Nadine States
[Incognito with Nadine States]

Incognito with Nadine States
[Incognito with Nadine States]

They’ll also be performing at one of the final shows (Saturday, November 19) and I highly recommend their set! Nadine’s got a great voice and gets the crowd onto their feet.

No drinks on piano

The five final (for now!) consecutive nights of top notch talent will include:

Wednesday, November 16, 8 pm
The Best of Boogie Woogie with Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, David Vest, John Lee Sanders, Willie MacCalder and Mike Van Eyes 8pm $12 Adv/ $17 Door
Tickets: $12 Advance/$17 at the door

Thursday, November 17, 8 pm
The Best of Country and Classic Rock with Chilliwack, Claire Lawrence, UHF with Roy Forbes, Shari Ulrich & Bill Henderson, Lyin’ Bastards, One More Girl, Jim Byrnes, Hayley Maclean, Texas Flood with Paul Kype and Loretta and the 4 Amigos
Tickets: $20 Advance/$30 at the door

Friday, November 18, 9 pm
The Best of Electric Blues Guitar with David Gogo, Tim Vaughan, Jimmy D Lane and James Rogers
Tickets: $15 Advance/$20 at the door

Saturday, November 19, 9 pm
The Best of Rockin’ Soul Blues with All-Star Blues Revue with Rob Montgomery, Jerry Doucette, Joani Bye, Nadine States, Murray Porter, Steve Werbicki, Dave Barton, Darrell Mayes, Kenny Boychuk, Pete Sweetzir and more!
Tickets: $18 Advance/$26 at the door

Sunday, November 20, 2 pm
Big Band Blues with Dal Richards Orchestra featuring Jim Byrnes
Tickets: $18 Advance/$26 at the door

Sunday, November 20, 9 pm
The Best of R&B, Soul and Blues with Brickhouse, Bill Johnson, Harpdog Brown, John Lee Sanders, Mike Van Eyes and special guests
Tickets: $20 Advance/$30 at the door

Dal Richards
[Dal Richards]

I have a pair of tickets for the Saturday, November 19 show to give away, courtesy of the Yale Hotel! Either comment on your favourite jazz or blues experience in Vancouver, or RT the following:

I’ve entered to win a pair of tickets to @TheYaleHotel for Sat. November 19 via @arianecdesign

I’ll draw a winner at random on Wednesday, November 16 at 5 pm.

*UPDATE: Congrats to Dave Maclean, winner in a random drawing for the Saturday night tickets! Have a super time, Dave!*

Tickets to the Yale’s 130th anniversary are available both in advance and at the door.
Contact the Yale at 604.681.2787 or purchase tickets online.
Tickets are also available through Tickets Tonight at 604.684.2787 or at the Tickets Tonight booth located inside Tourism Vancouver’s Visitor Centre at 200 Burrard Street.

The Yale Hotel 11-3-2011

If you’d like to follow along with the heritage upgrade developments, visit the Yale’s website.


  • Comment by Laurie — November 7, 2011 @ 11:36 am

    Bravo. You’ve managed to capture the essence of The Yale. Let’s hope some of the charm you captured about why we love this place will not be lost in the renovation.

  • Comment by arianec — November 7, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

    Thanks, Laurie! I’ve been promised that the Yale will keep its unique charm; we’ll all have to wait and see what comes out of it next year! I’m happy to enter you into the contest for a pair of tickets if you’re interested/available on the 19th.

  • Comment by desiree — November 9, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

    Love the Yale’s one-of-a-kind feel… never been disappointed in a show – always fabulous muscians and an equally appealing mixed crowd of young and old! Gonna miss her and looking forward to seeing the new face next year… and I’m happy to be entered in the contest for tickets on the 19th. thanks =)

  • Comment by Dave — November 10, 2011 @ 12:04 am

    My favourite times at The Yale were two concerts featuring Jeff Healey. The first was Jeff playing guitar for young woman who’s name I can’t remember. She was fronting a swing band and the whole night was fun. I really enjoyed watching the swing dancers. The second show was the Jeff Healey band. I was with a Quadriplegic woman and we were right up front near the stage. Unfortunately, we were right where Jeff would go off and onto the stage. By the end of the night we were all on a first name basis and Jeff gave Linda an autographed picture and a guitar pick. It made her very happy. I hope that The Yale comes back bigger and better than ever.

  • Comment by Ramona M — November 10, 2011 @ 6:10 am

    I used to go to the Yale all the time in my 20’s and still love to go when I’m downtown. It’s a great place with a great mix of people. Never a disappointment. I hope the week is a sell-out and the celebration is enjoyed by many…including myself and some friends.

  • Comment by Juliana — November 10, 2011 @ 9:41 am

    Best memory of the Yale? Learning how to play pool at the Yale while listening to my friend sing a rendition of Etta James on stage. Couldn’t barely get a seat that night it was so packed. … the smell of stale beer and old wood…the beautiful ambiance of NON halogen lights. SWEET!

  • Comment by Ksenia J — November 10, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

    I’ve been going to the Yale, with varying regularity, ever since I moved to Vancouver, almost 30 years ago. I’ve had the priviledge to see some spectacular performances, incredible musicians and singers. And, I’ve always had a great time and felt quite safe. As much as I agree that The Yale does need a facelift, I will miss the oldie.

  • Comment by Rod — November 13, 2011 @ 10:51 am

    Live music seems to be on life support in Vancouver, so the Yale will be missed. Here’s hoping the new version maintains the mojo. Having played there a bunch of times, I worry about the acoustical effect of the raised ceiling in front of the bandstand. Fingers crossed things still sound great after the renos. See you on the 19th 😉 Cheers!

  • Comment by Lois Patterson — November 13, 2011 @ 11:43 am

    I think Jim Byrnes and the Sojourners.

  • Comment by Peepser — November 27, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

    Glad to see it finally getting renovated. The place is a dump with incompetent management and this is long overdue. Would like to see a lot of the tired house bands comprised of the same old ‘boys club’ that have highjacked the place for the last thirty years get removed too. It’s like the mafia there. Jam sessions were one of the most painful things I ever had to endure as an audience member. Filled with drug addicts and mental cases that hissed at the band. But it’s all worth it when you can listen to the same tired and cliched 20 minute blooze progression, isn’t it? Is anyone in this club under the age of sixty?

  • Pingback by Calgary's Thriving Arts Scene | ariane c design — August 7, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    […] brought to mind Vancouver’s own Yale Hotel, which is also getting a well-deserved facelift over the coming […]

  • Comment by Eddy Duhan — March 24, 2014 @ 10:04 pm

    Too bad your not including Sherman Tank Doucette in the grand finale since he started the blues jam at the Yale so many years ago…

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