Posted on March 1, 2011
Farewell To The Lorne Hotel & Pub
Much of the Comox Valley woke up yesterday morning to hear the sad news that a local landmark had burned to the ground in an early morning fire. The Lorne Hotel & Pub, which has stood watch over Comox Avenue for 133 years, was gutted in a fire that started shortly before 2:00 a.m. Fire crews from both Comox and Courtenay battled the flames, but in the end, the Lorne was nothing more than ashes and charred wood. [source]
The history of the Lorne Hotel & Pub originated in 1878, though some local historians argue that it may have been built in 1867. An American man by the name of John Fitzpatrick, along with his wife, constructed what became a popular watering hole for more than a century. Until yesterday, the Lorne was, in fact, the oldest and longest-standing building in the entire Comox Valley.
Photo: Comox Archives & Museum Society
Named for Canada’s Governor General, the Marquis of Lorne, the Lorne Hotel & Pub had been Comox’s base of operations for everything from a hotel, a census and voting station and the place that served some of the finest whisky in the area. When Fitzpatrick and his family moved back to the U.S. five years after construction, the Lorne sat vacant for almost a year until the Cliffe family purchased it.
In the mid-1880s, German ethnographe Franz Boaz recalled in his diary that “the people at the hotel are very nice to me. You must not picture this hotel as anything like the Hoffman House in New York or the Capital Hotel in Berlin. It is a large farmhouse, several rooms of which the owner has given up to boarders. It is more comfortable than at Cowichan. The small rooms are warm and we are well taken care of.” [source]
Photo: © Bob_2006 on Flickr (used with permission)
Over the next eleven decades, only the prohibition managed to briefly slow down the Lorne Hotel & Pub. In recent years, the Lorne was a warm and friendly favourite for both regulars and tourists. Historian and architectural buffs were often enchanted by the expert craftsmanship that went into the building that was still preserved over many, many years.
It’s anyone’s guess what will be built on the lot in the place of the Lorne Hotel & Pub, but the void will no doubt be felt for years to come. Though the seaside town of Comox has lost a significant part of its history and legacy, the memory of the Lorne will certainly live on. As such, what are some of your best memories of the Lorne Hotel & Pub?