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One committed bartender
Bill Weaver is right at home in the Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans of Canada Hall on Wilton Street in Fort Rouge. Literally.
He lives next door and had been bartending for the association since 1953 before his official retirement, at the age of 86, at the end of April.
"I enjoyed it," said Weaver. "If I hadn’t enjoyed it I wouldn’t have been there that long."
Weaver joined the Army reserves with his friends at the age of 16 in 1942. Though he never went overseas during the Second World War, he often trained in Shilo. After years of meeting together to see how one another were doing, Weaver and his veteran friends created the Army, Navy, Air Force Association in 1953.
They started meeting once a week in obscure places around Winnipeg before renting out a church hall to meet in, purchasing a small building, and then finally expanding into their current building in 1969, said Weaver.
"Once a week we had well over 300 people come by to gather together," said Weaver.
Weaver’s day job was as a carman for the CN Railway before he retired in 1985.
"We were the jack-of-all-trades," said Weaver. "We looked after the cars, fixed this, fixed that. If they needed something done they got a carman."
Weaver was married in 1946 to his wife Denise, and the couple had three children, Doreen, Earl, and Dwayne. Weaver said Denise doesn’t mind that he’d been hanging behind a bar since 1953 because she was a part of the women’s auxiliary.
"You meet so many people, a lot of nice people, you get to know them, they get to know you," said Weaver of this time behind the bar. "I never had any problems, (maybe) the odd time, but nothing too bad."
His favourite drink to make was the Tom Collins, said Weaver.
"It used to be very popular," said Weaver. "But today you rarely get it. The women liked daiquiris, they used to go pretty good."
Weaver said one of the major changes throughout the years was the changing liquor laws. Once he had to make sure everyone was out of the hall by 10 p.m. Up until he retired, he used to have to stay until 1 a.m.
"It’s really strange and I wonder if it will go later," said Weaver. "I mean it’s a hall, not a hotel."
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