June 11, 2022
The Alpen Club has been a mainstay of German-speaking Communities since 1935. They started with a traditional Schuhplattler Group “Deutscher Alpenverein” and held events at various venues throughout Vancouver. The women formed a “Frauengruppe” (Women’s Auxillary Group) and the club shared information with members through an official newsletter “das Grüne Blatt”.
The grand opening of the Alpen Club at the corner of 33rd and Victoria was held on October 19, 1950, a mere 5 years after World War II ended. They bought 8 lots and build a club house at the corner, borrowing money from the “Edelweiss Credit Union” (now Prospera). The “Deutsches Haus” Restaurant was added October 19, 1974 and was also known as “Die Kleine Kneipe”. Since then, thousands of people have enjoyed a Schnitzel or Bratwurst at the restaurant, and at least a million gallons of beer has been poured, much of that during annual traditional Oktoberfest celebrations.
This is now all coming to an end and the club will be torn down sometime in early January 2023. The original 8 lots will be turned into rental condominiums and a new club house will be constructed on the bottom floor. The parking will no longer be on either side of the club but tucked in underneath the building. A new development permit application submitted by construction management firm Trillium Projects calls for a new 73-foot-tall, six-storey building at the Alpen Club’s property. The proposed total floor area is 90,200 sq ft.
They club has also been the home base of many other smaller groups over the past thirty years, such as a soccer teams “Alamania Kickers”, a German card game (Skatverein) Group, a Theatre Group “K.G. Närrische Garde”, two choirs, the Alpenplattlers, a Carnival Association, Club Berlin and other groups that no longer exist. All current subgroups will continue to meet during the redevelopment transition period. They are not sure exactly where but will make the decision during the July 9 Annual General Meeting.
The Alpen Club has been the place where the German Canadian Heritage Plaza used to celebrate for 30 years, where you can watch live German soccer during world cups and where you can celebrate an authentic Oktoberfest. The club has hosted children’s events like the Lantern Festival, a Nikolaus Celebration with dozens of shoes waiting for chocolate and was even the venue of the 2019 European Festival. They also hosted several choir-related shows each year.
Their statutes of the Vancouver Alpen Club say “The purpose of the Society is to unite people of German descent residing in Vancouver and surrounding areas with the object of preserving of the German language and to promote music, folk dancing, literature, history, sports, and handicrafts. They also try to “cooperate with similar organizations or other ethnic groups.” This will still be an important reason to keep the club going even after the building is gone and the construction is ongoing in partnership with local developer Townline Homes and the design firm NSDA Architects.
The next two years will be used for fundraising and the building will be finished some time in early 2025. In the meantime, we would encourage everyone to get a membership or make a donation and keep the club alive until everyone can continue to meet in brand-new facilities that will include a newly revived Deutsches Haus Restaurant. For more information, please contact: https://www.vacbc.ca/