Calgary is the kind of place that can feel like both a huge metropolis and a small town at the same time — and no one spot epitomizes that feeling more than the city’s unofficial neighbourhood pub, the much beloved Ship and Anchor. For 25 years local characters from all walks of life have been meeting at the Ship for a pint and they’ll likely be doing the same 25 years from now.
While the Ship feels like pure magic to the hundreds of Calgarians who duck in for a drink or a bite to eat every week (the place is almost always packed during peak hours), part of its charm is that out-of-towners don’t always “get it.” Try it — if you bring a tourist in they usually don’t see it as anything but a traditional English-style pub, with dark walls, obligatory Guinness ads on the walls and a decent, though hardly mind blowing, pub menu. But while there certainly are other pubs with a similar look in Calgary, at its heart, to locals, the Ship is something different. Think of it as a community centre for anyone who likes to spend time in the heart of Calgary’s Beltline.
Part of it is location, of course. Sitting right on 17th Avenue has its perks of course, and patrons who have been drinking at the Ship and Anchor back in 17th Avenue’s grittier days, before chain stores and fancier restaurants started moving in, certainly appreciate that the pub has been able to maintain its character and not go commercial, so to speak. You can still sit down at the bar with an eye on a soccer game and have a chat with patron who you may have never laid eyes on before. Or, if making new friends isn’t your bag, sit in a booth with a buddy or two, and before long you’ll have a half dozen pals who just happen to have popped in for a drink squeezing in next to you.