Popular Saint John tavern reduced to rubble as former patrons share memories

·3 min read
The 3Mile complex has been closed since January 2019 and was demolished on Tuesday.  (Graham Thompson/CBC - image credit)
The 3Mile complex has been closed since January 2019 and was demolished on Tuesday. (Graham Thompson/CBC - image credit)

It's the end of an era in Saint John as the 3Mile tavern was torn down on Tuesday.

Several former patrons and employees watched as heavy machinery reduced the once-popular venue to a pile of crumpled building material.

Like many others in the city, longtime 3Mile DJ Michael McEachern met his wife there many years ago. He brought his son to the site in east Saint John on Tuesday to watch the building be torn down.

"If it wasn't for that place, you wouldn't exist," he told the boy.

McEachern said it was a sad day.

"It's like losing an old friend because, I mean, that was my friend. This is where all my friends were. And I met my wife here and everybody that I hang out with now."

Graham Thompson/CBC
Graham Thompson/CBC

After being the DJ there for 20 years and attending social events there when he wasn't working, he said there are "so many memories in this building. It's just sad to see it go."

Former manager Malcolm Beals met his wife, April, at the 3Mile in 1994. And his 50th birthday celebration at the bar may have been one of the last events before it closed in January 2019, after 41 years in business.

Growing up in Glen Falls, Beals said the 3Mile has always been a part of his life. He even trick-or-treated there as a child with his friends.

"I had to come see the end, I guess," said Beals, sitting with his wife in his truck in the parking lot, reminiscing about the old days.

Property sold last year

Former owner Peter Bardsley also visited the site on Tuesday to see the demolition himself. Unlike many who visited the site, Bardsley said he wasn't sad about the building being torn down.

"It was time to move on," he said. "Everything moves on, and buildings only have a certain life span. So it's the next step in the property."

According to records from the province, Bardsley sold the 3Mile property last summer to a Halifax-based company that has subsequently changed its name to Keel Property Holdings Ltd.

Graham Thompson/CBC
Graham Thompson/CBC

Bardsley said there was nothing in the sale agreement to limit the use of the property. He said he was told the new owner wanted to develop a strip mall with a restaurant.

Keel's website said the company operates Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes Louisiana Chicken restaurants in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It claims to "have an aggressive plan to develop Popeyes throughout Atlantic Canada."

No one responded to messages left with the company on Tuesday afternoon.

'41 great years'

Although the 3Mile operated for 41 years, its history on Golden Grove Road, near the corner of Rothesay Avenue and McAllister Drive, went even further back.

Building on the original tavern over the years, the 3Mile had several iterations but continued to maintain a loyal clientele in its tavern. There was a dance bar that morphed into a country-style bar, while another addition eventually catered to VLT gamblers.

Glen Falls resident Cathy Chevarie stopped by the 3Mile to mark the end of a long connection to the place.

Sitting in her car and videotaping much of the demolition, Chevarie said her father went to the bar every day for 20 years.

Graham Thompson/CBC
Graham Thompson/CBC

She had her first legal beer at the 3Mile when she was 19 — so did her daughter. She met her husband there.

She said it was the atmosphere that kept her coming back — and the food.

"It's a sad day to see that landmark come down, it really is."

McEachern said the place had someone for everybody — regardless of tastes or age.

"Everybody and anybody was here, all different types," he said. "Everyone could find something at the 3Mile."