Paintings discovered within walls of Port Alberni hotel


WATCH: The owner of one of Port Alberni’s oldest hotels and pubs is trying to solve a mystery. Those working on a massive renovation there discovered some paintings within the walls. They’ve saved and framed them but are trying to find out more about who painted them and when. Kendall Hanson reports.

The Kingsway Hotel is among Port Alberni’s oldest hotels still standing today.

It opened in 1925 and a renovation started in 2017 after a new owner bought the pub and hotel, hoping to restore it to its former glory.

During that work, an unexpected piece of the hotel’s history was found behind many layers of the past.

“Instead of ripping down walls, people would just throw on another wall and another wall over top,” said Helen Poon, the hotel’s owner. “We had to take apart maybe five or six layers of wall to find them.”

“I thought these were amazing,” said Chaisson Yellowquill, the construction manager from First Canadian Construction Corp. “At first I thought great we found one painting. Didn’t realize how big it was. Measured out [and] it was like six foot by three foot and as we continued peeling back more, we found more.”

They discovered five large paintings on a layer of wallpaper, four of which could be saved. Three are landscape paintings of the Alberni Valley.

“I thought ‘wow’. Those are part of a heritage that we seek to preserve,” said Poon.

They decided to frame them and put them back on the walls of the hotel but they still have a lot of questions about the origin of the unsigned works.

“We think the paintings are pre-war, pre-World War Two,” said Poon.

The guess is based on how many layers were peeled back before they were found but the hotel’s owner hopes someone out there could provide more information.

“If anyone has interior photos of the pub from back in the day, we’d like to see those too,” said Poon.

And even though they don’t know who the artist is.

“I think they’re priceless,” said Yellowquill.

For now, they’re happy that while restoring a part of Port Alberni’s past, they’ve uncovered another piece of the community’s history

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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