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L’il Dory Lounge, iconic Marystown bar, fades into history with recent demolition

The L’il Dory Lounge opened in Marystown in the 1970s. It closed around four years ago and was demolished on May 3.
The L’il Dory Lounge opened in Marystown in the 1970s. It closed around four years ago and was demolished on May 3. - Paul Herridge

‘There will never be another Dory’

MARYSTOWN, N.L. —

If the L’il Dory Lounge’s walls could talk, there’s probably more than a few people who’d be worried.

The legendary decades-old Marystown bar’s doors were closed for good about four years ago, due to the condition of the building.

On May 3, the building was demolished, leaving memories for countless people – good times and bad – in a pile of rubble. 

The L’il Dory’s demolition was a sad day for a lot of people, Marystown musician JohnBoy Walsh told The Southern Gazette. - SaltWire File Photo
The L’il Dory’s demolition was a sad day for a lot of people, Marystown musician JohnBoy Walsh told The Southern Gazette. - SaltWire File Photo

Marystown musician JohnBoy Walsh, 41, who spent innumerable hours at the venue – from the age of 16 onward – on stage, behind the sound board and just hanging out, was saddened by the thought.

“That’s where I learned pretty much everything,” he told The Southern Gazette recently.

He wasn’t the only one.

“Everybody who was anybody back in the day, and then all the newcomers, too,” played the Dory, Walsh said.

A couple weeks after he had completed school for recording arts, Walsh, who had done sound at the venue off and on, was contacted by manager George Pike to fill in one night sometime around 2004.

“That was it,” he said, explaining how it became a regular gig.

The bar was like a family, and no matter what walk of life someone was from, people could sit next to one another and have a yarn, Walsh said.

“If one person was down, everybody just would help him up, or her,” he said.

Touring bands

Percy McDonald, currently of St. John’s-based Diezel Dogs and AC/DC tribute band AC/percy, is one of many Newfoundland and Labrador musicians who played the L’il Dory over the years.

McDonald recalled gigging at the venue on a few occasions in the mid-1990s. His band, The Tequila Rockingbirds, however, played the bar numerous times over a four- or five-year run beginning around 2008.

A few memories stand out: the “stripper pole” is one.

“That’s kind of different,” he said with a laugh.

Mostly it was the friends he made while playing at the L’il Dory, though, he said.

“It always seemed to be a decent crowd, and the Marystown crowd were always pretty warm towards us. Welcoming, fun people to play for, always appreciated it, and always happy to see you come back,” he said.

“The people that worked there seemed to be pretty happy to be working there, as well. You don’t usually get that everywhere, you know.”

Widely known

Pike said the Dory was widely known.

He started at the venue, which he said opened in 1974, as a bouncer, before becoming its manager and then leasing the bar for the last six years before it closed – about 15 years all told.

In the end, Pike was spending a lot of his own money on upkeep but getting nowhere.

“It took a piece of my heart away when I had to give it up,” he said, adding the building’s demolition brought tears to his eyes.

Pike said the bar was an “icon” and full of memories for him.

“A lot of good ones and a lot of bad ones. A lot of good ones I can’t tell no one, put it that way,” he said with a hearty laugh.

Walsh agreed the bar was “infamous.”

Wherever he went and told people he was from Marystown, he was asked about the L’il Dory.

It happened in Nova Scotia when he was living there for a few years. It was the same thing when he was working in Alberta.

“Everybody across Canada knew the L’il Dory, right?”

Seeing the building torn down was difficult for a lot of people, Walsh said.

“There will never be another Dory,” he said.

Ken Barron of Marystown recently bought the property on which the L’il Dory Lounge stood. He told The Southern Gazette he was unable to discuss plans for the site at this point in time.

paul.herridge@southerngazette.ca

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