Empress Hotel lifts ban on Nova Scotia man 17 years after seagulls trashed his room


Seagulls trashed a Fairmont Empress room in Victoria 17 years ago while indulging on pepperoni that a Dartmouth, N.S., man had brought for his navy friends. Nick Burchill was told he could no longer be a hotel guest as a result, but that ban has now been lifted. Photo courtesy CBC. (Submitted by Brothers Meat & Delicatessen) (Submitted by Brothers Meat & Delicatessen)

Trying to keep highly requested pepperoni sticks cool led to a Nova Scotia man being barred as a guest of a landmark Victoria hotel nearly two decades ago courtesy of some opportunistic seagulls.

But after returning to the Fairmont Empress Hotel recently, Nick Burchill had his ban lifted.

It all began 17 years ago when Burchill came to Victoria on a business trip and with a small suitcase filled with Brothers Pepperoni sticks.

He brought the snacks to the west coast for his pals serving in the navy.

But the bag got lost and once it was returned to his possession and without a fridge in his room, Burchill decided to put the sticks near a window ledge to be cooled from the chilly April air.

After leaving his room for a few hours, Burchill returned to a completely different, and chaotic, scene.

“I don’t mean just a couple of seagulls. I can only estimate how many there were,” Burchill told Anjuli Patil of the CBC.

“I’m thinking somewhere between 30 and 40 seagulls had come in through this open window while I was gone.”

The east coast guest said many of the birds tried to flee the scene at once through the small opening, as curtains and lamps were falling.

Eventually, two seagulls remained in the room that Burchill called “a fairly large room, nice room — or it was,” and he was desperately trying to get them to go as he prepared to attend a dinner with customers.

Burchill had only started his job at the time for three months.

“One was just bouncing around on the windowsill and I was kind of losing my temper at this point, so I took off one of my shoes and I threw it in the direction of the seagull, and both the seagull and the shoe went out the window,” he said.

The last seagull was finally corralled after Burchill jumped on it with a towel and threw both out the window.

He says a line of tourists were outside the hotel and witnessed the shoe, towel and birds exit the room.

The hotel moved Burchill to another room for the remainder of his visit, but a letter was sent to his employer to let them know he would no longer be allowed to stay at the Empress.

But when Burchill returned to Victoria near the end of March, staying at a different hotel, he returned to the Empress to apologize.

He was forgiven and the ban has been lifted.

With files from CBC.

Andy Neal

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