The Stag is more than just a barbershop

Inside the Stag today

Inside the Stag today

When you visit the barber and sit in his chair,

Don’t squirm like a worm while he’s cutting your hair.

Don’t shiver, and quiver, and bounce up and down.

Don’t shuffle, and snuffle, and act like a clown.

Each wiggle, will jiggle, the blades of the shears.

Clip-clip, clip-clip: those scissors can slip

And snip off a tip of one of your tender pink ears!

– The Barbershop,

by Martin Gardner

 

It seems as though everybody’s dad or granddad got their hair cut at the Stag Barbershop.

Often, generations of Maple Ridge men went there.

“A fourth generation client came in not too long ago,” explains current owner Kandace Yaretz. “He said to me, ‘guys who grew up here, moved away, and came back say that this shop hasn’t changed. And they like it like that.’”

Most customers have been faithful through the years, though many are more concerned about a getting a good chuckle than a haircut.

Al Clark opened his first barbershop, Clark’s Clip Joint, in 1953. After a fire destroyed this first business venture, Al reopened his barbershop in 1958 next to the old 5¢ to $1 Store (now the Bingo-Plex) on 224th Street under a new name – The Stag Barbershop.

The decor inside the shop has not changed much in the past 50 years: there are a number of stuffed fowl and animal heads mounted along the walls, all of which receive their own Santa hat during the holidays.

Though they were taken down for repainting, Kandace plans to replace the wall of police, ambulance, and fire crew crests collected by Bob Kilsby, one of the original barbers. The shop retains its original large leather chairs that are almost as comfortable as the atmosphere. Wooden cabinets along the south wall were installed when the shop first opened, and straight back chairs line the north wall for both customers and visitors alike.

The white and black checkered linoleum floors were installed by Russ Fisher when he took over the shop in 1984; it seemed that linoleum was easier to keep clean than the previous carpeted floors.

Russ remembered his time at the shop with fondness, and especially loved election time. The shop acted like a public forum, where barbers and customers alike would discuss “who the best candidates were, and what the political issues were.”

Retired mayor Kathy Morse would come in “to ask questions and see how her popularity was.”

The Stag was the best place in town to go for local information, because the barbers talked to everyone.

According to Kandace, the barbers knew everything: “Who got into trouble over the weekend, who just bought a house, whose cow had died, and even if there were any events coming up.”

The shop was always full, and not just with customers; often, men out doing their errands would pop in for a chat.

The shop acted as a place of contact where men would always find a keen and friendly audience to listen to their stories, told in an unrestrained and comfortable manner. The Stag was a place of unity, where a young man could go for monthly counsel from his older, more experienced male peers. It served as an entry point into the community, where newcomers could create friendships and learn about the municipality. If someone wanted to go fishing or hunting, they just had to go down to the Stag and they would quickly find good company.

Though the original barbers are gone, the Stag Barbershop is still vibrant and filled with customers, many of whom are lifelong patrons.

 

• Sandra Borger is a researcher for the Maple Ridge Museum.