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Newsletter #214, September 17, 2011

Nat Bailey Items up for Auction

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Auction #832, held on September 24, 2011 has 4 lots of ephemera which had belonged to famous Vancouver entrepreneur Nat Bailey, who was a restaurateur best known for building the first drive-in restaurant in Canada in 1928, and developing the first car-hop tray. His chain of White Spot restaurants continues to thrive today.

He started his business career selling peanuts during games at the Vancouver Forum. He expanded his business by adding hot drinks and hamburgers. When the Forum's roof collapsed in 1934, he built the famous log cabin White Spot, at 67th and Granville streets in Vancouver's Marpole district. The logs were painted white and the ends painted green. This was the first drive-in in Canada. The car-hops wore green uniforms with Naugahyde captain's caps, and a white stripe down the pant leg. Nat's specially designed tray fit between the car's window sills.

He became famous for his hamburgers, which used Nat's "secret sauce", which was rumoured to be Thousand Island dressing mixed with mayonnaise, but he never revealed the recipe. The hamburger drew customers from all over Vancouver and his French Fries were never less than 3 inches in length. Later, Nat became famous for his "Chicken Pickens". This was long before the Colonel and KFC were on the scene. The White Spot became so popular for its tasty food that Nat built several of the drive-ins throughout Vancouver and Victoria. He sold the chain to General Foods when he retired as a very famous restaurateur and community sports supporter. The chain has since been bought by Peter Toigo and is back as a B. C. company.
Bailey was also a supporter of little league baseball in the city of Vancouver and was a part owner of the Vancouver Mounties professional team. His love of the game was commemorated with the renaming of Capilano Stadium to Nat Bailey Stadium after his death in 1978. Nat Bailey Stadium is currently the home of the Vancouver Canadians, a short season Single-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The lots include a silver plate box commemorating the 1958 Pacific Coast League All Star Game, containing 7 metal and plastic medallions from White Spot and the restaurant association. It was bought for $160 by the Stadium and should be on display for next season.

One lot is a signed photo of the "Miracle Mile" showing Roger Bannister beating John Landy at Empire Stadium, August 7, 1954. It sold for $93.50.

Nat Bailey was a Freemason, and supporter of the Marpole Rotary Club, as well as the Chamber of Commerce. One of the lots is a tray engraved with the names of the Marpole Rotary Club from November, 1961 and presented to Nat. It sold for $55.
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