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Mauna Loa Lounge, Mayfair Hotel, Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada (restaurant)

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Name:Mauna Loa Lounge, Mayfair Hotel
City:Portage La Prairie, Manitoba

This place has been mentioned very briefly in a few posts but didn't really have too much information out there. Here's some information I have collected so far.

The Mauna Loa Lounge was located in the Mayfair Hotel located in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada (Which is basically above North Dakota). I am not sure of the opening date but it does seem to be early the sixties but can not confirm this yet. I can tell you that the Hotel burned down along with the Mauna Loa Lounge in 1969.
The Mauna Loa Lounge seemed to be a pretty authentic Tiki/Polynesian establishment. There was lot's of bamboo, sea grass matting on the ceiling along with glass floats, tropical themed wall murals, plastic plants, tapa cloth, various weapons and carved masks lined the walls. It looks as though there may have been a waterfall or pond as well but can't be sure yet.

The Mauna Loa Lounge, along with the Mayfair Hotel, was owned and operated by a local entrepreneur named George Hill who also had a few other (More to come on this in a minute) businesses. George Hill was the son of a prominent Portage druggist who was quite successful.

I have seen very few things from this location of the Mauna Loa but I will share what I have here. The following is the only postcard I have ever seen so far and it really does show a great shot of the Lounge and what it looked like. This postcard is dated July of 1965, just four years before it burnt down.

It sure would be interesting to see the rest of this place. Especially since this shot shows some pretty cool decor. I wonder what the bar area looked like??
The following is a matchbook cover from the Mayfair Hotel featuring the Mauna Loa Lounge (From the collection of Mimi Payne).

You can see the logo Tiki on the matchbook. This is the same Tiki holding the bamboo cup with straw and garnish that is on their hard to find stir stix.

I guess in this case you're not finding too many items from here because it's existence was wiped out by fire. Sometimes when a Restaurant closes, you'll find that they sell off the items or one day, years later, a bunch of stuff turns up somewhere and alot more things get circulated. But maybe in this case, most items were probably destroyed or not worth saving in the fire. I still gotta find out about what happened at the end of the Mauna Loa. Like I got nothing else to do!!!

An interesting point about this location of the Mauna Loa is it's connection to Mexico City's Restaurant, The Mauna Loa. On the back of the above postcard, it reads "When in Mexico City For Exotic Food & Floor Show, Visit The Original Mauna Loa 172 Hamburgo".

Okay, now remember back in the beginning I said the 'owners other businesses'? Well, George Hill is not really popular for his Hotel or the Mauna Loa Lounge, he is known for his type of glass work. In the 1950's or early 1960's, George started a glass manufacturing company called Seetusee. Seetusee was a glassware manufactured in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. It was inspired by Mexican painting on glass but was perfected by George Hill and a partner, Foss Giffin.

Kind of interesting how he lives and works very far from Mexico City but does Mexican inspired glass art and also has a Lounge that has the same name and is completely Polynesian inspired just like the location in Mexico City?? Even the postcard from his Lounge tells you to go visit the Mauna Loa in Mexico!

Kind of going out on a limb here but I would have to say that George went down to Mexico and saw some of the art that was being done down there and decided to bring it up North. Maybe on his repeated trips down South, fell in love with what he saw at the Mauna Loa and being the business entrepreneur that he was, decided to open a lounge of the same name and atmosphere here in Canada. Just a hunch but I would say I am on the right track.
Now I just gotta get this theory ironed out and cemented down for yah!!

One more bit of information I have found is on the glassware itself. All Seetusee pieces are unique as they were hand painted, cured and carefully sealed with a pigskin backing with a distinctive finish of gold paint that sets them apart from Mexican pieces. The colors are mixed, exciting and vibrant and have stood the test of time. Each of the huge variety of shapes are identified by a number (with or without an 'M' prefix) stamped on the pigskin backing. The brand (Seetusee by Mayfair Glass) is also named on the backing, either in the form of a stamp or via a sticker label. I do not collect glass art but I have been told that these designs are very beautiful and are becoming quite collectible.

I would be very interested in seeing some of this glassware. I wonder if anything was done for the Mauna Loa specifically?? It would only make sense to me as they probably served alot of drinks in that Lounge and they had to serve them in something!!

Mahalo, TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2008-07-15 21:19 ]

Hey Dan. Good detective work once again. I'm familiar with Seetusee pieces (though I never knew what they were called) because a friend told me about it when we came across some in Value Village one day (I think her mom used to collect it). As you say, the colours are quite vibrant - almost psychedelic. We mocked this stuff because we thought it was weird and kind of gross that it was dishware made from pigskin. How strange that it has a connection to tiki. I occasionally run across pieces in thrift stores and antique malls, and I'm sure if you keep your eyes open you will too. All the pieces that I've seen have been serving bowls, plates, platters, candy dishes, that kind of thing - I don't think they did anything you could serve a drink in. I'd say it's more decorative than actually functional - something you'd display in your china cabinet rather than use every day.

-Sweet Daddy T.
Because crap doesn't buy itself.

My new blog

[ Edited by: Sweet Daddy Tiki 2008-02-21 00:44 ]

I'm pretty sure these salt and pepper shakers are from this location.

They look like grey Trader Vic's S & P's

Sorry for the photo, It's the best I could do while at work. I'll add better photos of them later.

Another fine job at Tiki archeology, Dan. I like your theory of George Hill being inspired by the Mexico City Mauna Loa, we have a precedent for that in the Aku Tiki Room in Illinois, which was inspired by the OTHER grand scale Mexican Tiki haven, the Aku Tiki in Acapulco:
"The current owner, Glen Andris, purchased the building in 1953. Shortly afterwards, Glen began his annual winter trips to Acapulco. When there, he would visit a tiki bar which provided the inspiration for the Tiki Room, which was added to the Andris-Waunee Farm in 1967."

It can be easily surmised how inspirational the Mexico City Mauna Loa must have been by viewing its interior:

Another thing that points at inspiration coming from other restaurants is that the matchbook's logo Tiki concept (not the Tiki!) is clearly taken from the Stephen Crane Kon Tiki Montreal menu cover: The way of holding the bamboo mug and its typeface are very similar.

PS: Can you make out what the carpet pattern is supposed to portray? Is it just foliage, or abstract shapes?

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-02-21 15:40 ]


Thanks for the posts guys!! I thought this would be a cool one as I hadn't seen anything on here before.

I don't know if I have seen too much of that glassware but I probably walked right by it. I usually don't pick up things that are wrapped in skin!

Slacks Ferret, if you have a shot of those S&P's please post them on here! I think I have actually seen a set of those marked Mauna Loa before now that you mention it! Maybe they are from this Mauna Loa. In the picture below, the tables only have the standard restaurant glass S&P's on them which is too bad.

Bigbrotiki, Below is a closeup scan of that crazy carpet. It looks like it is just abstract shapes. Maybe they couldn't get any foliage type and these colors worked for them. Kind of a crazy style!!

The next picture is just one of the lower back of the postcard as this is where it refers to the Mexico City Mauna Loa location.

This next picture is just a close up of the top left side of the postcard. Don't ask me what that buck-toothed mask is hanging on the top left side! You can see the wall mural in this shot and also one of the wall masks and other decor.

The next picture is a close up of the right side of card. I like this view as you can see more tapa cloth, masks, spears, plastic palm leaves and other foliage, dark rattan chairs and a few great glass floats!

You're right (Bigbrotiki) about the design of the matchbook being quite similar to the Kon Tiki menu. I thought the same thing when I saw the letters on the bamboo piece. I have the stir stix and I will scan it and add it to the post when I grab it.
The style of Tiki used on the stir stix reminds me of the Tiki stir stix used at the Mauna Loa in Mexico City. You know, the white one with the round head on it? If you look at the Mexico City picture above (Bigbro's post), you can see this style of Tiki up the stairs on the very left of the picture beside the dark colored Tiki. Maybe this was another influence? Hopefully....more to come!

Mahalo, TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2008-07-15 21:27 ]

Here's a matchbook from the Mauna Loa Hamburgo location in Mexico city. This location is long gone but TRT 2 says the location on San Jeronimo is still running. Thanks

DANG! ....Dan, forgive me for maybe veering off this thread too much, but something JUST clicked for me. And the "Dang" is for it happening too late for inclusion on page 79 (the Mauna Loa menu/swizzle) of Tiki Modern:

The logo Tiki of the Mexico City Mauna Loa is not just ANY Marquesan Tiki, as I foolishly assumed so far, but it is based on THE most influential Tiki in 20th Century art! PICASSO'S favorite Tiki (!):

... which he acquired as early as 1912 (!), as one of the first primitive carvings in his possession! Here is the photo of his pal Apollinaire with the Tiki in Picasso's studio that I showed in The BOT:

...and here is the man himself in the 1950s adoring his muse!:

Arrrr...how could I, Mr. "Recognize-any-Tiki-anywhere", miss that for so long? Thanks for posting that matchbook, Trav, that made it click for me.


Good one!! I would say that's it, bang on!!
Below is the Stir Stix from the Mexico City Mauna Loa that we were discussing. It too has the 'X' style carving on the stomach just like the Picasso one and probably the one at the Mauna Loa.

In the postcard that Bigbro posted (previous post), you can make out the same styled Tiki on the left above, the staircase. Here is the same picture in color.

It is a bit hard to see but you can make out the shape and style.

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2008-07-15 21:32 ]

That carving seems to be the least "Picasso Tiki" look-alike, though:

And I have the swizzle stick, but never made the connection....

...because some key elements are different: Shape of the head, the mouth, the hands, etc. The rendering on the matchbook and menu is still the closest to the original, the swizzle and the carving must have been derived from those. That makes sense:

Often, the architect's office did not only design the restaurant, but their graphic artists also designed the logo and menu for the project. These artists usually used Oceanic Art books for reference. I wonder where that designer found Picasso's Tiki, in what book...and if he referenced it knowingly.


Okay, here is the last thing I have on the Mauna Loa in Manitoba. This is the hard to find stir stix:

A pretty cool stix with the same logo as their matchbook. Maybe their is a menu out there somewhere.

Hopefully, someone else has a collectible from here or maybe some more information. Mahalo! TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2008-07-15 21:34 ]

Dats a damn cool swizzle stick, never seen that before. :) Thanks.

Here's a better look at those S & P shakers:

Please pardon the rotated-ness. I've gtried to fix it and it ain't happening...Anyway, I think these could be from the Manitoba Mauna Loa.

As another little side trip: The evolution of a menu cover

The original drink-holding concept:

...inspired the Mauna Loa:

...and the Tiki Ti:

...and Bosko (and me):

Dear TC Moderators, I am bumming about some of the images posted here lately reducing themselves down to thumbnail size. It interrupts the narrative flow of threads like the above. As a visual person and frequent image uploader, it would be frustrating to find my work reduced like that just after a couple of weeks/months. Luckily it has not happened to me, but why IS it happening, and how can it be prevented? I know those lost blue question mark images have to be replaced by the original posters, but can these mini ones be fixed to full size again?


Sven, the images in this thread that have been reduced to thumbnail size are hosted on shutterfly.com, not on Tiki Central. So the problem is with shutterfly or that person's shutterfly account.

On 2008-06-29 06:35, bigbrotiki wrote:
Dear TC Moderators, I am bumming about some of the images posted here lately reducing themselves down to thumbnail size. It interrupts the narrative flow of threads like the above. As a visual person and frequent image uploader, it would be frustrating to find my work reduced like that just after a couple of weeks/months. Luckily it has not happened to me, but why IS it happening, and how can it be prevented? I know those lost blue question mark images have to be replaced by the original posters, but can these mini ones be fixed to full size again?

On 2008-06-29 08:28, GatorRob wrote:
Sven, the images in this thread that have been reduced to thumbnail size are hosted on shutterfly.com, not on Tiki Central. So the problem is with shutterfly or that person's shutterfly account.

Aha, thank you, Rob. So folks, do not use Shutterfly anymore! Hosting/posting images thru TC is so quick and easy, I do it everyday! :)

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-06-29 09:10 ]

Amen, Sven!

I was just about to post asking this question myself, but I'm glad you beat me to it and already elicited the answer to the mystery!

No more Shutterfly, indeed! And, yes, it IS extremely easy to post images through TC. I also do it almost every day as well.

Mahalo & Cheers! :drink:


Okay, I fixed the images in this post so they should be back to normal now! A bit time consuming but had to be done!!
I forgot how cool this post was! As I was fixing the images I went through it again and what a great little Tiki lesson!!

Thanks for the info. about correcting the images. It is pretty easy to download pictures through TC. How many will it hold in here and do we know how long for?

Mahalo, TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2008-07-15 21:35 ]

Thanks for doing that, Dan, it is a fun thread, the reference to the "original Mauna Loa" is unprecedented in Tikidom, usually proprietors would just swipe a name and concept and use it as if they thought of it.

And good question about the life span of the images ---since I post so many. I know one thing: They won't last as long as ...BOOKS !!! :)

Some cocktail umbrellas that surfaced recently on eBay from the Mauna Loa in Portage la Prarie, Manitoba:

Ghee, what do those poor little wrecks go for...? Seems like the Canadian Mauna Loa did not only borrow the drink holder Tiki concept from Steve Crane's Kon Tiki, but his Luau logo Tiki as well. Well, it's all part of the great design, the "Tiki transmission tradition" of Polynesian pop. :)

I believe those 4 tattered little umbrellas sold for $17.00. Not so bad in today's cut-throat tiki collectibles market.

The same seller (in Manitoba), must have come across a cache of items from the Mauna Loa. He's been selling large lots of picks and swizzles for really good money recently:

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2009-08-29 02:41 ]


I finally got one of those great postcards from the Mauna Loa. Also saw this add on ebay with the same interior shot. The hotel sure wasn't very big when it started.



Yeh Dusty, I saw that Ad on Ebay as well. It was a cool one and you're right about the amount of rooms. I bet that place was probably barely ever full even with that small amount of rooms!! It is in the middle of no where!!

I tried contacting a few people about the Mauna Loa and have not turned up anything new. The person who was selling the stir stix and stuff that were posted above does not really know anything about the place other than what I had already posted. It's hard to find out about these places and it's funny how many people out there just really don't want to talk or give any assistance.

Oh well...the hunt goes on!

I did however find what I believe to be the only known photo of the outside (I can say that because I live up here and I have not seen another!! :)) of the Mauna Loa in Portage!

It is a little small and hard to see but you should be able to make it out.

This image is from a postcard I found from Portage.

You can see on the far left the Mayfair Hotel. The pharmacy, as discussed in my beginning post, is on the first floor and on the left side (right on the corner) and the Mauna Loa Restaurant is beside that on the right. It looks like it has a large Neon sign which says Mauna Loa above the doorway and it also seems to have a volcano and a piece of bamboo also in neon. It is hard to make out but I think that is what it is.

Here is a little bit of a close up:

I wish I could make it a bit clearer and get closer but I will have to work at it.
This is a cool shot from the late 60's I believe.

I also found a small dish from the Mayfair Hotel which has it's original stamp on the back, that is, pigskin back. See my first posts for the story on this type of collectible glassware. It's kind of a cool piece and has great colors to it.

Here it is:

Well, that's it for now.
Mahalo, TabooDan


The following is a nice description and write up on the Mauna Loa and the owner George Hill.
The article is from a local historian in that small town who was actually there and knew the people. He himself seems to be quite a character as well. The author does a good job describing the times of the small town and the changes.

The Mauna Loa starts around the 7th paragraph down but the rest is a good read.

The article is from June 15th, 2016.

Hill’s Business Opportunities.
By Don Pelechaty,

"In my last reminiscences of George Hill I talked of his start in the hotel business and my troubling fixation with the Mayfair soda bar! But the Mayfair was never just another restaurant- it was so much more.. It was an experience in becoming a social animal in a period when all the world, certainly our little world of Portage la Prairie, seemed swept up in a cycle of good times and buoyant expectations for the future. But that feeling died somewhere along the way. Now surveys indicate that we expect our children to do less well than we did. Perhaps it took thirty years for the economy to wind down after the pumping up it had in the Second World War!

The Mayfair Hotel was Portage’s first touch of a new age of sophistication. That gold-flecked tile covered building and the ambiance within made us feel that we, ourselves and our town, had finally come of age!

In those first summers of the 1950’s we had a new drive-in theatre, two downtown theatres, two bowling alleys, the fashionable Olympia Restaurant, Robbies selling blue ice cream, an A&W Drive Inn, and Saskatchewan Avenue was lined with interesting and classy shops. The Avenue was walkable , parkable, and had allure with dress shops,butcher shops, drug stores, jewellery stores, shoe repair, watch repair, men’s suits, restaurants, a stock broker, thriving hotels and bars, great shopability! Merchants decorated their windows and washed the sidewalks. It all disappeared! Do you have the answer why?  W e also had  a new Manitoba Hydro Building at the corner of Second and Sask. Avenue (old McLenaghen Block corner)We had welcomed a new Monarch Queen Elizabeth II .

“Regina Elizabeth” the celebration sign read in the window until somebody probably a former student of Margaret Webster, went in and told the manager that it should read ‘Elizabeth Regina’ Some of us still knew our Latin syntax. Do you remember the Hydro’s magic mirror that spoke to you?    
Well, the marquis over Hill’s new Mercury dealership became the stage for George Hill’s special brand of Christmas entertainment. Hill knew that a major downtown Christmas event was crucial to kick off the shopping that made up one half of most merchants annual sales, and so he invented his own Christmas spectacular.

How we kids looked forward to the bands, dancers, costumes ,singers and performers and finally the appearance of Santa in his sleigh. From the stage he would toss out candies and oranges to all the cold but glowing kids! This Disney-like event began with four hours of cartoons at the Army Drill Hall. By the way, the year before in l949 the huge limestone pillared Dept. Of Veterans Affairs building had burned down next door and Hill was busy hauling the remains over to the Island for an elevated and secure footing for his new home then underway. The columns from that building are still on my back patio!. After all those hours of cartoons and treats there could not have been a decent kid who was not anxious to show his appreciation to Mr. Hill  by dropping into his drug store to buy such swell gifts as shaving soap in a wooden bowl for Dad and a flacon of Evening in Paris perfume in that long blue bottle  with a tassel for Mom. Oh, in those days we all pretty easily satisfied.

In the early 1960’s Hill embarked on his most lavish and theatrical business venture and one that would prove to be a fantastical escape for Portagers. At that time a trip to Winnipeg was still a great adventure!

A large renovation project to the eastern part of the hotel (old Cannif Drug Store) slowly turned into an authentic looking Polynesian cocktail lounge. For years Hill had been bringing back saleable exotic souvenirs to stock his gift shop and in the process he had fallen in love with the special charm of the South Seas. Now on the very spot where twenty five years previous he had begun his drug store career, he reached what I think was his finest moment! This was the spot he chose to convert into the ultimate theme lounge-the Mauna Loa. (‘Big Mountain’).

Appearing before us was a room with walls and ceiling of grass matting sewn onto large bamboo poles. It was in effect a large Polynesian hut with glimmering coloured globes hanging around an outrigger canoe and a lighted King Turtle Shell. Blow fish hung in round windows(Hill loved the circular line). The walls were alive with gilded tiles, village scenes and painted leather.

Fountains tinkled near the mahogany bar, peacock chairs waited to enveloper you next to hand carved tables(Bill Kirkland). Waiters wore flowered shirts, white pants and flower leis. Over all this tropical splendour flowed  the strains of Hawaiian music. A storm may have been raging with winds howling across Saskatchewan Avenue but in the Mauna Loa Lounge we were safe in our South Seas cocoon! Hill’s bankers said this bar would never work in Portage and advised against it, but within six months Hill had the ten thousand dollar loan paid off!

The drinks were just as exotic as the surroundings, served in Tiki God crockery or cylinders of brightly coloured glass. Singapore Slings each wore an umbrella! The Mauna Loa Singapore Sling recipe- in a tall glass add ice cubes, one and half ounce gin, orange juice. Grenadine, cherry kiafka, add a twist of orange, swizzle stick and umbrella! You knew you had been enjoying yourself too much when the table became littered with cute umbrellas!

Here and there stood strange Polynesian  “Gods” hand carved and painted in authentic hues, one even had a ruby in it’s navel. These Gods were the creation of my old pal Daryl Giffin and myself. They added flavour to this tropical stage set! The interior decor had been carried out by artist Edith Holden.

The opening day bar tenders were Ken Bowman, Eddie Koppen and Ed Stellar. The serving staff forbade profane language or bad behaviour. Once a waiter banned you only he could re-instate you! George Hill told the bar tenders that if a banned guest protested that they were a personal friend of Mr. Hills then the miscreant was to be given a nickle and told to phone George!

The ‘God of Good Luck’ Buddha sat over a fountain at the bar. Your wish just might come true if you rubbed it’s tummy! Someone must have felt down on their luck for  the Buddha suddenly disappeared! Anyone want to sell it to me? One evening Edith Holden sat by that fountain and along with her cocktail ordered a sandwich. The bar tender  Ed Stellar hated food in the bar and when he finally brought the sandwich up from the kitchen to her Edith purred, Mae West style,“ I hope you didn’t have to make that yourself honey!”.
Those were the days my friend...."

That's the end of the article.

Great description of the place!!
I thought I'd share this here and hope somebody gives us some more history.


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