Vancouver, the Pinball Mecca


The morning before starting to write this, I asked a friend, “Did you know that Vancouver was a pinball machine playing mecca?” “Really?” was his reply.

Truly. I did not know until a friend of mine came in from Calgary, ostensibly to attend Folk Fest, but said “we have to check these places out.”

Between the two of us and a few Google searches we came up with a short list of places.

  • Pub 340 at 340 Cambie Street
  • The Cobalt at 917 Main St
  • Movieland Arcade at 906 Granville St

I ruled out The Cobalt because it has the reputation of being a tough place and, in the past anyway, was the place to go for punk bands. And I’m not talking fluffy Green Day stuff I’m talking stuff your mom wouldn’t let you listen to like the Day Glo Abortions. (I know these bands are dating me but the neighbourhood near The Cobalt is not Shaughnessy in Vancouver nor Rosedale in Toronto.)

Pub 340 had a compelling argument for going as it had about 12 machines in a room off of the pub area. Technically this pub is in Gastown, but if you consider Gastown central where the steam clock is (Cambie and Water Streets) the pub is 2.5 blocks south close to West Hastings St.

The pub itself is not a pretty Donnelly Group type of pub (e.g. The Lamplighter at 92 Water Street). It is rustic and, frankly, some of the patrons were rough around the edges too. When I spoke to the barkeep, who was heavily tattooed and pierced (not that there’s anything wrong with body art) he was quite helpful with what was on tap and extremely cordial.

We could take our brews to the pinball room and while taking turns in epic pinball rivalry (I lost) we could enjoy our beverages. The kitchen was not open when we were there (about 10 PM) but there’s no reason you could not bring food in as well.

Sadly, it was karaoke night and in true tradition of karaoke, drunk and/or out of tune people started singing. Fortunately the racket from the pinball machines drowned out some of the din.

I wanted to take a picture of the exterior of Pub 340, but some of the folks outside seemed likely not receptive to being in a photo.

After trying all the machines, we got to enjoy some of the colour, if you can call it that, of the Granville Street strip. Movieland Arcade is right in the heart of the welcome-to-our-night-club-where-we-will-search-you-for-weapons area of town. Inside the arcade, it did remind us of the old Yonge Street Toronto arcades from the 70s and 80s, all of which I’m told are now gone.

But inside was Galaga. And it was still 25 cents. I guess there is a chance at nostalgia in this world where everything changes.

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One Response to Vancouver, the Pinball Mecca

  1. Dave B. says:

    I need a tour guide like you!

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