Interest being expressed in historic Ladysmith building

The realtor representing The Travellers says developers from Victoria, Vancouver, the Lower Mainland and Calgary have expressed interest.

Realtor Wes Smith stands behind the bar inside the Travellers Hotel on First Avenue in Ladysmith.

Realtor Wes Smith stands behind the bar inside the Travellers Hotel on First Avenue in Ladysmith.

Flakes of plaster drift to the floor from the blistered surface of the third-floor hallway walls. Paint curls back on itself as it peels free from baseboards.

Bedroom walls, once white, are stained by mould and water damage, while in other rooms, gyprock and panelling — warped and rippled from too many years of cold and damp — have been torn away to reveal the original slats-and-mortar construction of the building’s internal walls.

Cobwebs droop from overhead, while ceiling tiles, installed in the 1950s or 1960s as a means of conserving heat, dangle from their frames or are altogether absent.

Dust and damp — and a hint of mould — all contribute to the pungent perfume filling the dimly-lit corridors and rooms of its upper floors.

This is The Travellers Hotel as it stands today — a mere shadow of its former luxurious self.

Run-down though it may be, The Travellers is back on the market, and Wes Smith, my tour guide and a realtor with RE/MAX Ocean Pointe Realty, is responsible for its sale. In spite of its derelict condition — the main floor has been without heat and electricity for the last eight or nine years, Smith says, and the upper floors have suffered from a similar lack of utilities for 16 years — Smith has received more than 50 serious inquiries from prospective buyers. Developers from Victoria, Vancouver, the Lower Mainland and Calgary have all expressed interest in the hotel, he says, with particular interest having been shown by a Vancouver developer responsible for restoring heritage buildings in Gastown.

Smith is marketing the building’s potential for mixed-use development — the town of Ladysmith will back nearly any project that preserves the building’s heritage-status character — focusing in particular on projects revolving around a pub or restaurant situated below office space, apartments, a hotel or condos.

Each floor hosts over 4,500 square feet of space, Smith says, providing ample room for either a 40-room hotel — the original Travellers hosted 32 rooms — or condos in the 1,000- to 1,500-square-foot range. A condo or hotel development that takes advantage of the heights reached by the original ceilings would create a space that’s “highly desirable,” Smith says.

The majority of the interior walls aren’t load-bearing either, meaning someone can come along and reconfigure the space as they see fit.

A redevelopment involving either a hotel or a pub makes particularly good business sense, Smith says, considering The Travellers’ prime downtown location and the fact that Ladysmith is home to a lone pub and only one hotel.

Regardless of what is to become of The Travellers, any redevelopment project will require a sizable investment, Smith says, costing a developer “at least $1 million to finish.”

The original hotel was built by pioneering hoteliers Annie and Chris Stevens in 1913 for a mere $18,000 — valued at $400,000 to $450,000 today, not taking into account differences in labourers’ wages.

Unlike most hotels built in Ladysmith during the mining boom era, however, The Travellers was intended to serve a moneyed class of clientele rather than transient miners.

The hotel “boasted one of the largest and best equipped bars on the west coast,” according to a heritage registry writeup, and featured two dining rooms to service guests in its 32 rooms.

The Travellers’ high-class character faded slowly over the latter half of the 20th century, and by the early 1990s, the former hotel had been transformed into low-end housing.

The upper floors have been abandoned since the mid-1990s, Smith says, and the bar on the building’s main floor hasn’t announced a last call for “eight or nine years.”

The Travellers Hotel is listed for $674,900 with a price that “reflects the condition of the property.” Photos of the Travellers’ interior can be found online.

Just Posted

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements’ invention La Méduse (the Jellyfish) removes oil from the ocean. The invention was one of 15 out of 700 inventions submitted to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Little Inventors contest. (Cole Schisler photo)
‘Little Inventors’ from Ladysmith showcased in national science challenge

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements were one of 15 finalists in the Little Inventors Challenge

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read