Next month Paulette and Blake McCarthy are closing the Bastion Gallery, 890 Crace St., after 38 years. (Photo courtesy Susan Bibbs)

Nanaimo’s Bastion Gallery closing after 38 years

Custom framing and restoration business survived Jean Burns Building fire

This Christmas will be the first one Bastion Gallery owners Paulette and Blake McCarthy will have to themselves in 38 years.

“There were some Christmases … we would be working until 3 a.m. just so we could get all these Christmas presents ready for everybody who were giving framed pictures,” Paulette said.

The McCarthys have run the Bastion Gallery since 1981 and on Nov. 30 the custom framing and restoration shop will close its doors permanently.

“It’s time,” Paulette said. “Blake is six years older than I am and, well, I’ve been working ever since I was 13.”

Paulette added that changes in the framing and restoration industry also contributed to their decision to retire.

“The appreciation for this kind of craftsmanship is there, but it’s not there enough now to warrant a huge shop like this because everything comes from China and it’s ready-made,” she said.

However, one of the biggest challenges they faced was the Jean Burns Building fire of 2016. Paulette said when she arrived on the scene, “I remember not hearing anything except the banging of my heart in my ears.”

She said they had to haul their equipment through water and rubble and when they relocated to 890 Crace St. two weeks later she had doubts they could go on.

“It took us about four and a half months to clean everything and plug it back in,” she said. “And during that period is when clients kept coming here and dropping their work off.”

In lieu of a going-out-of-business party, from now until the end of November the McCarthys are welcoming friends to drop by for biscuits and reminiscence.

Paulette said what she’ll remember most is the people they’ve met over the years. She said the store was a longtime participant in the downtown’s old Halloween Howl event in which children trick-or-treated at downtown businesses.

“People were bringing their little kids (and) all of a sudden, the little kids were bringing their little kids…” she said. “It kind of made you feel old but it was very gratifying to see that continue because you’ve made an impact in someone’s life, even if it’s a small, little way.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Nanaimo Airport’s $14-million expanded terminal officially opens

Departure lounge, security and baggage areas improved

Nanaimo athletes shine at B.C. Winter Games

Youths from Nanaimo win 19 of Vancouver Island team’s 44 medals

Officials say no drought worries with below-normal snowpack

Snow pillow nearest to Nanaimo at 69 per cent of normal levels, says B.C. government official

Affordable apartments planned for Nanaimo’s Brechin Hill neighbourhood

Proposed development would be near Terminal Park plaza and B.C. Ferries’ Departure Bay terminal

Storm score a Game 2 win against Buccaneers

VIJHL playoff series between Nanaimo and Campbell River tied 1-1

Beefs & Bouquets, Feb. 27

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

Toddler killed in Squamish grocery store parking lot

Child’s mother taken to hospital but her condition is not known

Francophone festivities in Nanaimo this weekend

French Canadian culture and cuisine highlight Maple Sugar Festival du Sucre d’Érable

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Most Read