Along the E&N cover (Touchwood Editions)

Nanaimo author details hotel history along the E&N railway

Along the E&N tells the story of 32 establishments from Esquimalt to Campbell River

Glen Mofford’s new book, Along the E&N, captures the history of Vancouver Island through the lens of its various hotels and saloons that lined the now-dormant rail line.

Along the E&N tells the story of 32 establishments from Esquimalt to Campbell River. Of all the establishments detailed in the book, only nine remain today.

“It was actually going to be a book about 100 hotels on Vancouver Island, and then I realized rather quickly as I was doing my research that it’s a lot of work,” Mofford said. “I boiled it down to 32 and I tied it together with the E&N, because they’re both nostalgic … When you pick this book up, that’s your ticket on to the E&N train 140 to 160 years ago, on a steam train from Esquimalt to Campbell River with 32 stops along the way.”

While the book does a lot to detail the various establishments along the E&N, Mofford also weaves interesting anecdotes and the history of the communities where the hotels existed. Chapters detail a murder-suicide on Mount Sicker, a bartending dog in Bowser, and visits from John D. Rockefeller to a Chemainus hotel.

One chapter details the history of the Abbotsford Hotel that stood in Ladysmith from 1900-1935. The hotel was originally built by Andrew J. McMurtrie in the town of Wellington, which was once a booming coal town between Nanaimo and Ladysmith. When James Dunsmuir founded Ladysmith in 1900, the hotel was deconstructed and transported on the E&N to Ladysmith where it was reconstructed.

“That’s kind of neat in itself, especially if you’re not from around here, or even if you are and you’re not familiar with that story,” Mofford said. “They took the whole hotel and put it on flat cars of the E&N, which was really appropriate for this book, then they put it all back together again, and it did fairly well for awhile.”

Mofford said he found more history in Ladysmith than he could fit in his book, and wishes he could have written about more of Ladysmith’s hotels.

“Ladysmith was a lot more than you see today, although Ladysmith is one of those happy stories, because it’s turned out pretty good,” Mofford said. “These were central places, and there was a lot going on there.”

Along the E&N is Mofford’s second book. His first book, Aqua Vitae, follows the history of drinking establishments in Victoria. Both were published by Touchwood Editions. Mofford is currently travelling Vancouver Island doing readings and presentations. He’s currently deciding whether to write his next book on drinking establishments of Nanaimo, Vancouver, or B.C. as a whole.

Outside of his books, Mofford writes for his blog, raincoasthistory.blogspot.com, and contributes regularly to his Facebook page, as well as the Facebook group Historic Hotels and Pubs of British Columbia. Along the E&N is available wherever books are sold on Vancouver Island, including Salamander Books on 1st Ave.

READ ALSO: Oxy a gathering place for more than 130 years

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo’s Rocky Point

DFO marine mammal rescue unit arrived as whale broke free from prawn trap line

City of Nanaimo and RDN re-opening playgrounds

Playgrounds will be back open on Wednesday, June 3, with health guidelines in effect

Nanaimo CAO named president of Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators

Jake Rudolph elected as CAMA president during association’s virtual AGM Tuesday

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Most Read