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Revisit the 1980s with this exclusive Big O merchandise

The Big O commemorative T-shirt is now available through the North Shore News's Vintage Shop
The Big O Vintage t-shirt is available exclusivly through the North Shore News's Vintage Shop. Photo: North Shore News.

Oh, to be alive in the '80s. 

It was the decade of big hair, big pants—big everything. 

It was also the decade in which North Vancouver's Big O was in its twilight. 

Built in 1906 and originally named the Palace Hotel, the Olympic Hotel – affectionately known as the Big O – was something of a Lower Lonsdale institution until it was torn down in 1989.  

Now, some 30-plus years later, the North Shore News is showing some love to the old watering hole with the release of a vintage Big O commemorative T-shirt.

Available exclusively through the North Shore News's Vintage Shop, the Big O shirt comes in numerous colours - black, red, dark heather and kelly green - and the sizes range from small to 3XL.

The T-shirts are printed in and shipped from Vancouver. The North Shore News has partnered with a custom clothing company, Coastal Reign, whose twentysomething co-founders, Eddison Ng and Boaz Chan, have printed more than 200,000 shirts for Canadian customers.

All T-shirts are 100% cotton, preshrunk jersey knit, and available in a variety of colours and sizes, priced at $35 plus tax. Shipping is free.

The best part of all of this? All proceeds from the sale of the Big O shirt go to support local journalism at the North Shore News. Since 1980, the North Shore News has received more than 200 provincial, national and international awards for newspaper and website excellence, including the Canadian Community Newspaper Association's "Newspaper of the Year" award in 2019, along with golden awards in the Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards category for Newspaper Excellence for three consecutive years 2017 from 2019.

The Big O shirt is one of many nostalgic offerings available at the Vintage Shop, where everything once considered a tad old is now cool and "sick," as the kids say. 

More than a dozen shirts in a range of sizes and colours will instantly transport you back to a simpler time when you played outside until it was dark with nary a cellphone in sight. Long-time community fixtures featured on those shirts include the Lions Gate Tennis Club, Lynn Valley and the Norvans hockey team, among others.

The Big O Vintage t-shirt is available exclusively through the North Shore News's Vintage Shop. Photo: North Shore News.

Five different collector totes are now available online that feature art and insignias dating back to the 1960s. Those totes include artwork featuring the B.C. coat of arms; The Seven Seas Floating Seafood restaurant; West and North Van Varsity throwback designs, and a fifth design proclaiming "I Heart North Van."

Each tote is 100 per cent cotton, with 20 1/2" self-fabric handles and a 9 1/2" handle drop.

And with more municipalities across the region banning single-use plastics, they'll be invaluable for any trip to the grocery store.

And that's just the start - the Vintage Store's roster of cool and quirky collectibles will be ever-expanding in the coming months.

Upon its completion in the early 1900s, the Palace Hotel boasted a rooftop garden and stunning panoramic views. Lorenzo Reda built the hotel, which was initially a three-storey, brick structure. According to local historian Eve Lazarus, Reda added more rooms and a dance hall, and in 1908, the Palace Hotel boasted that it was "the only hotel in British Columbia with a roof garden."

Along with the Hotel North Vancouver and the St. Alice Hotel, the Palace Hotel welcomed visitors and holiday-goers to North Vancouver's booming Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood in the early 1900s.

Renamed the Olympic in 1949, the hotel suffered a decline along with the Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood starting in 1958 when ferry service was discontinued between North Vancouver and downtown Vancouver.

The Olympic had something of a reputation as a rough-around-the-edges beer hall and biker bar throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It played host to scores of bands and other forms of entertainment in those two decades before it was ultimately demolished in 1989.

The exclusive shirts and totes can be purchased online at