Horseshoe Bay Inn ‘definitely on the up turn’

One hundred and 20 years after opening its doors, the Horseshoe Bay Inn in Chemainus is still going strong.

The Horseshoe Bay Inn in Chemainus is celebrating its 120th anniversary in 2012

One hundred and 20 years ago, the Horseshoe Bay Inn opened its doors to weary travellers on the Island.

The historic inn in Chemainus, which was established in 1892, welcomes locals and visitors to celebrate its anniversary.

In the 120 years, not much has changed.

Before it was an inn, the building served as local pub for gentlemen of the area. Today, the Horseshoe Bay Inn still serves as a popular watering hole for Ladysmith and Chemainus, but the crowd is a little more diverse.

“The heart of the place is our neighbourhood pub, and we are quite well-known for our food. We’ve got a really nice atmosphere for the pub,” said Jennifer Coyle, the pub and hotel manager for the Horseshoe Bay Inn. “Our age group is quite dynamic; we get 19-year-olds in, and you can feel comfortable to bring your grandmother.”

Coyle welcomes everyone to come to the inn and experience the rich history of the place — so long as visitors aren’t afraid of ghosts.

“Nothing menacing … but we’ve had guests come downstairs and ask where the piano music is coming from because it is so lovely, but we have to explain that there isn’t a piano in the building,” she said. “There have been visual flights of figures from time to time, just catching a glimpse of a woman or man.”

The Horseshoe Bay Inn is bouncing back from some difficult times. Coyle says it was the local loyal customers that got the place through the hard times.

“It was a little concerning for a while there. Things seem to be picking up, and we seem to be getting busier all the time. It is definitely on the up turn,” she said. “We have such a good core of local residents that have been coming here for years, and they were basically our bread and butter through the hard times.”

Renovations and improvements are planned for the upcoming year. Coyle says the hotel has an exciting future.

“We have plans in the works to expand our patio for next spring and adding some water features and beautifying it,” she said. “We are restricted for 16 people on the patio, but we have a lot of space in the back and there are areas for growth. There is talk of possibly utilizing our banquet facility and turning it into a breakfast restaurant or a café. Nothing is set in motion, but there are ideas being tossed around to be able to provide more for the customers in that sense.”

The Inn is part of Chemainus’ past but will also be part of the future. The slogan for the 120th-anniversary celebrations last week at the Horseshoe Bay Inn was “here yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

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