Margaret Trudeau and the Daddy Long Legs Disco

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Last Christmas, my friend Jason Vanderhill gave me a card showing a couple of disco dancers from the ‘70s. The caption explained that the photo was taken at the opening of something called Daddy Long Legs in North Vancouver.

Courtesy Kate Bird
Disco dancers at the opening of Daddy Long Legs at the International Plaza Hotel in North Vancouver. July 31, 1979. Bill Keay/Vancouver Sun

The only thing I could find out about the Daddy Long Legs disco was from a Globe and Mail article dated August 4, 1979 which focused on PR superstar Tom Butler rather than the venue he was promoting. “It was a public relations man’s dream,” went the lead. “Margaret Trudeau, the biggest newsmaker to storm the east from the North Shore’s sheltered heights, was boogying at the opening splash at Daddy Long Legs, a new North Vancouver Disco.”

Daddy Long Legs disco
“Margaret’s boogying makes Tom Smile,” Globe and Mail, August 4, 1979

The same picture appears in Kate Bird’s wonderful book Vancouver in the Seventies, and after a visit to the NVMA yesterday, we figured out that the hotel was built around 1975 and was at the corner of Marine Drive and Capilano Road. The 1980 city directory describes it as “Vancouver’s finest resort hotel.” The high-rise had 150 rooms all with colour television, complete convention facilities, restaurant dining, show lounge, garden bar, dancing, a heated indoor swimming pool, saunas, whirlpools, and tennis courts. John Hale was the general manager.

Daddy Long Legs disco
The International Plaza, no longer Vancouver’s finest resort hotel in 2017.

It doesn’t look like the disco or the hotel lasted very long because it quickly turned into the International Plaza Hotel and Apartment Complex in the city directories. The hotel’s facilities have since been repurposed into various fitness clubs (currently Steve Nash). The former disco is now the Staples.

Kate tells me they have photos of our Prime Minister’s mother dancing at the disco on opening night, but chose to include the above photo because there were other pictures of her in the book.

I’ll be writing more about Tom Butler in an upcoming blog.

© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus.

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22 comments

  1. Once again you’ve nailed another memory. We had our wedding reception at Frank Bakers and spent the night at the Plaza Hotel. I think we picked it because it was close to the reception. My wife got to have photos with the Bond car but she wasn’t allowed near Lennon’s Rolls.

  2. MPT SURE I HAVE NOT BEEN THERE FOR YEARS, IT WAS THE BACK HALF OF THE TOP FLOOR FACING TOWARDS VANCOUVER, QUITE THE VIEW. I THINK IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN A RESTAURANT FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME AS WELL.

  3. I was at the opening night of the Daddy Long Legs disco!! A bund of us cheeky young journos went for a laugh, and it was hilarious. Margaret Trudeau really did show up. If memory serves, she showed up with Paul Manning. At one point, my wildly gesticulating hand brushed against her….i didn’t wash my hand for at least the next half hour….haha….for us, the most fun came when the great Chris Gainor ventured onto the disco floor. Being of a size more ample than the rest of us, Gainor in full disco mode was quite the sight…Margaret Trudeau looked over at him, and laughed delightedly. I also remember she truly was gorgeous…..she stayed for about an hour, and was gone….another great stunt by the unforgettable Tom Butler….

  4. You know you’re old when you identify Margaret Trudeau as the Prime Minister’s wife rather than the Prime Minister’s mother.

  5. October 13 1979. I cant remember why we chose either venue but they both turned out to be good choices. Frank Bakers Attic allowed our photographer to take some pictures beside the Austin Martin. They wouldnt let anyone near John Lennons Rolls. We had a few pics beside an old fire truck. It was a sit down diner at a cost of around $5 per guest.

  6. The International Plaza Hotel is on Squamish First Nation land, and was originally seen as an opportunity to anchor the development of other similar commercial enterprises along the strip of Marine Drive that runs east of the Lions Gate Bridge. Once its function as a hotel was disappearing it became apartments, with some other businesses in the tower, but the Staples on the ground level is on-reserve, and until the larger Staples was built in Park Royal South was the most accessible source of stationary and business equipment for First Nations across the province, since purchases made there were tax free.

  7. There was a period when the hotel was booking some fairly noteworthy nightclub performers. Earl Hines was a favourite–though I believe the performers were either booked into the ballroom there or a lounge that became Daddy Long Legs when the disco craze began. But those performances were regularly advertised in the papers. All of which seemed a big deal to entice people overtown to come to the North Shore for entertainment.

  8. I saw BB King there in the early’80s when he and others Blues legends were ‘Has Beens’ . Don’t remember where in the building but I’m pretty sure it was ground floor.

  9. Vancouver nightspots through the generations – the Cave and Isy’s, the Roof, Maiko Gardens for my parents.
    70s Vancouver was still a small town in that people from all over the city turned up at the same huge house parties that spilled over outdoors, or at the mudflats with local bands .
    certain groups or types populated Daddy Long Legs and Oil Can Harry’s downtown and Gastown or Afterthought, Retinal Circus, Rohans and many others. The Coach House North Vancouver was sports – football and hockey players. Avalon, Olympic, St. Alice, Gastown bars….surprised what I recall, Yale and Cecil and loved the Commodore. I do remember vividly Tina Turner (with Ikettes, sans Ike) in the 70s so probably was at OCH, only Tina would have had the power to draw me there .

  10. I used to work at the Hotel as a chambermaid from summer 1979 all through 12th grade high school to the start of my first year at university in1981. Christmas 1980 we had the Housekeeping Christmas party at Daddy Long Legs disco. I got to clean penthouse rooms for Ginger Rogers and Charton Heston, and occasionally the bands who played in the bar at the hotel too. It was a GREAT job for a high school kid, we made $5.65/hour and had a union behind us back then – that money put me though my first year at UBC! Many memories working there…

  11. Lo Rawls played there, so now I am wondering what the disco upstairs on the top floor was called. I knew the disc jockey STEVE CRAWFORD who worked there and popped in a couple of times.

  12. Oh yes it was very anticipated but it was that bridge that lead to its demise I suspect. Myself and the vivacious Thora Swindells ( father Lloyd , Harry Jerome and Van Olympic Club coach who trained at my high school Eric
    Hamber) cabbed it and Thora attracted Dan Haggerty who was TV star Grizzly Adams. Up to his suite we went in tow with The Master Blaster who did explosions for the movie studios. He turned out to be far more fun than Grizzly with us going to his suite to watch some of his blow ups and how they were done.

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