The following history document will be updated eventually to include a summary of events following the move across campus into the new Wallace McCain Student Centre, which lead to the insolvency of the Tantramarsh Club:

Universities tend to be very conservative organizations. Although cultures and societies may become more liberal, universities often lag behind in this change. Mount Allison is no exception. In fact, it was not until 1968 that students were allowed to consume alcohol on campus without violating university regulations. It was in this conservative environment that the Tantramarsh Club was born.

The concept of a licensed establishment on campus was first brought to public attention on November 6, 1972, when the Argosy published a report entitled "A Pub on Campus". The subsequent week, the Argosy printed a retraction stating that the initial report was in error, and that the university's administration had no intention of allowing such an establishment on campus. Both reports were intentionally published by the editors of the time, Dave Boyd and Sandy MacDonald, with the intention of encouraging discussion on the issue.

Their plan worked. A committee was formed to look into the feasibility of a Pub on campus, and it also examined other alternatives. In March of 1973, the committee released its report, which stated objectives for such an establishment:

1. To provide a common meeting ground for members of the university community, for the interactions of students and faculty in a non-academic setting.
2. To provide the proper facilities for the consumption of alcoholic beverages, and to provide a mechanism to control the use and abuse of alcohol.
3. The Pub was to be seen as a non-profit organization, which would enhance the University Centre complex's portfolio of activities.

A proposal was brought before the executive committee of the University's Board of Regents on September 10th, 1973, and then before the full Board on October 18th, 1973. The main issues raised at the October 18th meeting centered on the name of the proposed pub, and the relationship it would have with the university. Many members felt that the Mount Allison name should not be associated with an establishment that was to sell alcoholic beverages, so the Board approved the application under "whatever name may be approved by the executive committee."

The other major issue for the Board of Regents was the relationship that would exist between the club and the university administration. The Board recognized that there would be some costs involved in preparing the proposed site in the basement of the Student Union Building, and that the university might lose money on the venture. However, the majority of the Board felt that the venture should proceed, specifying that any relationship between the two parties should be spelled out in a lease agreement. From the start, the University established itself as a powerful external stakeholder.

After being given the final go-ahead in November of 1973, the Tantramarsh Club opened its doors in early 1974. Many thanks are owed to the Director of the Physical Plant at the time, Ed Zoellner, and to the many tradespersons and employees who donated personal time to assist in construction of the Pub.

At the start, the Pub was only open for a few hours in the early evening of each week day, and for limited hours on the weekends. A selection of many common brands of beer and liquor was offered. Within a year of opening, the Directors of the club decided to employ a full-time Manager. It is interesting to note that it was originally intended for the Tantramarsh Club to offer meals to its patrons on a regular basis, a goal which has never been fulfilled. Unfortunately, it appears economically unfeasible to attempt such a plan at the present time, although the proximity of the Cafe in the Wallace McCain Student Centre would lend itself well to such an arrangement, if demand warranted.

By the late 1970's, the Tantramarsh Club had established itself as a legitimate part of the university community, whose existence would not be easily threatened. In the late summer of 1979, Mr. Peter Wightman was hired as the Manager of the Tantramarsh Club, and also as the Administrator of SAC Bar Services. At the time, Peter served two masters, as Bar Services was controlled by the SAC, and the Tantramarsh Club was an autonomous organization. Within a very short time, the SAC decided to hire an individual to serve as full-time administrator and Bar Services manager. This decision was in part prompted by Mr. Wightman's desire not to simultaneously occupy both positions. Peter Wightman was retained by the Tantramarsh Club for several years as full-time manager, and then moved on to become the Manager of the Bar Services organization at the University of Windsor, after spending several years running the Axe Lounge at Acadia University.

The role of the Manager in the operations of the Club is very significant. The manager is a non-voting member present at all meetings of the Board of Directors, has direct control over the operations of the Club, and can legitimately make policy decisions. This is instrumental to the success of the Club. The current Board of Directors and Chairperson also take a strong interest and involvement in the ongoing affairs of the club, and are often called upon by the Manager to clarify major policies which should reflect the best interests of the general membership.

The agreement between Mount Allison University and the Tantramarsh Club Inc. states that "The University has a vital interest in ensuring that the operations of the Club within the premises will not create an adverse reflection of the University." The most important conclusion arising from this statement is that the Tantramarsh Club exists solely at the pleasure of the Board of Regents. The Pub is merely a tenant in space that is owned by the university. If the Regents do not see fit to renew the annual lease agreement, the Club would be without a premises in which to conduct business, and would cease to exist as an ongoing concern. It is therefore important for the Tantramarsh Club to maintain good relations within the University administration.

The lease between the University and the Tantramarsh Club spells out more directly the relationship between the two bodies. The university exerts its influence to ensure that the Club is operated properly. A major consideration of the lease includes the following statement: "The University will appoint an overseer to determine whether operations of the Club are in a manner that is consistent with the university's goals and objectives with respect to the Club."

In 1982, the Liquor Policy Board examined in detail the role of the Pub on campus, and the specifics of its operation. The Liquor Policy Board at the time included the Dean of Students, a faculty member and a student representative, and the President and VP Administrative of the SAC. Several meetings were held to solicit input from the university community at large, and a number of findings were presented to the President of the University. Some of the more important points raised in the report included:  (1) It was recognized that the Pub was an important and desirable institution within the overall framework of campus life, and should continue to operate;  (2) The lack of a lease at the time (the first lease was signed in 1984) was indicative of the unclear relationship between the university and the Pub up to that point. It was decided that a lease would clear up many inconsistencies;  (3) The importance of an overseer from the administration was emphasized;  (4) After a review of NBLLB regulations concerning various possible arrangements for a formal liquor establishment on campus, it was decided that the present arrangement of "Private Club" status was acceptable and preferable.

The report also emphasized very clearly that the Pub must continue to clearly recognize the ultimate authority of the University, and operate clearly in the interests of Mount Allison University. To facilitate ties between the Pub and the Administration, a high-ranking administrator, Vince Smyth, was directly appointed by the University as a member of the Club's Board of Directors. Vince, who was well known to students as the Don of Harper Hall, was able to advise the Pub Board on how the administration wanted certain matters handled, and was able to closely monitor the Pub's compliance with university security directives.

As mentioned earlier, the Pub is a not-for-profit organization. This does not mean that the organization is not permitted to make a profit. It also does not mean that the organization is able to lose money on an ongoing basis. What it does mean is that IF a profit is made, it is reinvested into the Club, rather than distributed to an owner, to the membership, to the University, or to any other third party. Due to maintenance that is required, such as the occasional recurring purchases of items such as equipment, it is necessary that the Club operates somewhat above a breakeven level. During the past two decades, revenue and income have not shown any real signs of consistency, except perhaps during most of the 1990's.

                                   Year Ended              Revenue     Income (Loss)
                                   April 30th, 1990       $ 170,931         $ 5,048
                                   April 30th, 1991       $ 109,471        ($22,037)
                                   April 30th, 1992       $ 134,728        ($ 2,445)
                                   April 30th, 1993       $ 159,500        ($ 9,675)
                                   April 30th, 1994       $ 189,639         $ 9,531
                                   April 30th, 1995       $ 222,689         $10,244
                                   April 30th, 1996       $ 212,075         $ 7,682
                                   April 30th, 1997       $ 255,542         $14,242
                                   April 30th, 1998       $ 266,743         $ 8,654
                                   April 30th, 1999       $ 314,572         $23,061
                                   April 30th, 2000       $ 368,244         $23,279
                                   April 30th, 2001       $ 402,757         $28,298
                                   April 30th, 2002       $ 354,889         $ 7,663
                                   April 30th, 2003       $ 335,445        ($ 6,228)
                                   April 30th, 2004       $ 317,599         $   978
                                   April 30th, 2005       $ 271,911        ($28,725)
                                   April 30th, 2006       $ 223,102        ($24,596)
                                   April 30th, 2007       $ 193,498        ($14,635)
                                   April 30th, 2008       $ 200,000est.    +$14,000 est.
                                   April 30th, 2009       $ 230,032        ($65,892)

Unfortunately, there is no information available relating to losses in the year ended April 30th, 2010, because the Tantramarsh Club became insolvent before that date.

Some significant events which should be considered when examining the above figures include closure for part of the year in 1985 due to major renovations (an expansion which, among other things, created the pool room), management problems in the early 1990's, a major increase in expenses in January of 2004 when the Club had to start underwriting its own liability insurance rather than falling under the University's umbrella, major decreases in revenue from 2005-2008 when competition from Paddy O's Pub took away a lot of customers, and finally, major losses starting in the fall of 2008 when the Pub moved into its current location, especially for the first three months after the move when there was no dance floor available and traffic levels plummeted to less than 10% of former levels. That's not a typo: less than ten percent of former sales levels.

But back to our story ...

In late 1990, Darrel Coates, a student and Bar Services manager, took over the Manager's position at the Tantramarsh Club. Darrel looked at the bar from a student's point of preference, and was able to make impressive changes. The following year, Dave Smith took over, and problems began anew. While Dave was also very competent, and had a great deal of previous experience, he was a full-time student. His course-load and extra-curricular activities left him with little time to invest in the management of the Club. Another bar, "Mermaids" (located in the brick building up the road from the Via-Rail station) also opened in 1st term of that year, initiating a drastic price war, and before long, the Pub was "out" and Mermaids was the happening place to be. The Chairman of the Board at the time discussed the possibility of closing the Tantramarsh Club.

On January 1st of 1993, at the suggestion of Dave Smith, the current Manager was appointed (Jonathan Clark). Meetings were held with residence house presidents, as well as prominent SAC members and club/society presidents. Decisions were made focusing on what students wanted in their campus pub, and what needed to be done to bring them back. Steps that were taken immediately to improve the facilities and financial position included:

1. A substantial voluntary salary roll-back by the Manager, until the bar became solvent again (approximately 1.5 years).
2. Modernized menus and pricing (lower prices, hoping that the higher volumes would increase the overall margin).
3. More professional staff training regarding service and word-of-mouth advertising.
4. Purchase of DJ equipment and the beginning of a music library.
5. Beer purchased earlier in the week, so it would be cold on the weekend.
6. Opening on Friday afternoons, including offering free pool.
7. A reversal of the previous Manager's policy to "never give in" to price competition.
8. Improving the intensity of training levels for staff members, to minimize overall wages.
9. Faster service, through simplification of the cash register and rearrangement of drink selections and ingredients.

The changes made at that time were extremely significant. Since then, staff and management have spent considerable effort fine-tuning operations and facilities, to maximize efficiency levels and the ability to compete effectively.

Since about 2003-2004, the Pub has been encountering significant financial challenges. In that year, the Pub's insurance coverage provisions changed significantly. Prior to that point, the annual insurance expense for the Pub was about $500 for contents coverage, and Mount Allison assumed responsibility for liability insurance. However, due to changing rules in the industry, which were beyond the control of either the Pub or the University, the Pub started having to provide for its own insurance coverage. Total annual insurance expense therefore rose to about $17,000 per year. Since that time, the Pub has endured several years with net losses. A few years later, when further operational changes and cutbacks resulted in a positive income again, the Pub was faced with a new challenge from a downtown competitor, Paddy O's Pub. A large number of underage students were able to sneak into that establishment until it closed a few years later, but during that period, the damage was done as the crowds at Paddy O's took customers and profits away from the Tantramarsh Club.

In October of 2008, the Pub moved into a new venue in the Wallace McCain Student Centre (formerly Trueman House). The Centre as a whole was a great improvement to the campus, with just about all non-academic facilities and departments moved into a single structure, and with improvements to the spaces available to many of the affected departments. Unfortunately, there was initially a large backlash with regards to the Pub's new quarters, from both students and alumni. Perhaps the most damaging problem was the fact that the Pub was initially allocated a shared space (the Solarium) which was to be used as a dance floor, but less than a week before moving, the University pulled the Liquor License from that space. For the next few months, the vast majority of students boycotted the Pub, due to the lack of a proper dance floor. During that period, the Pub lost a great deal of money, cutting the cash reserves in half. In January of 2009, the Solarium was reallocated to the Pub on a pay-per-use basis, and traffic levels once again jumped. However, the damage had been done, and the university refused to compensate the Tantramarsh Club for losses incurred.

Throughout 2009, maintaining a break-even level of operations was a challenge. Although the Club did acceptably well in the busiest two or three months of the year, the summer and other months with low traffic levels caused significant financial issues. Major changes were imminent. The "Tantramarsh Club," as a corporate entity, ceased to exist after April of 2010. However, the Administrative Representative on the Pub's Board of Directors reassured stakeholders that the University was committed to having a Pub on campus. Eventually, another organization opened in its place, although the success of that entity appears to be muted. Whether or not such an establishment has been operating to the satisfaction of the student body remains questionable.

[The Tantramarsh Club became insolvent and ceased operations after March 31st, 2010. More information will be posted here in due time.]