Rubble is all that’s left of the Patricia Hotel, a long-standing watering hole in Nanaimo’s south end at 525 Haliburton St., but its current owner sees value in the lot the building stood on, which is currently listed on the real estate market for $649,000. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo’s old Patricia Hotel demolished

Haliburton Street watering hole torn down to clear lot for sale

The Patricia Hotel has had its date with the excavator.

The hotel which has operated at 525 Haliburton St. since the 19th century, was torn down this week to clear the lot for sale.

Realtor Sean McLintock, of Sean McLintock and Asssociates, Re/Max of Nanaimo, said a local businessman bought the property in a foreclosure sale for $385,000 and the demolition costs will total about $120,000. The lot has been listed on the real estate market for $649,000.

“He’s got no intention of building on it,” McLintock said. “He wants to just sell it off and move it along.”

The hotel was originally a house owned by George Baker who, according to Nanaimo historian Jan Peterson’s book, A Place in Time: Nanaimo Chronicles, added rooms to his house at the corner of Baker and Haliburton streets to comply with regulations of the day that required a minimum of 10 rooms to operate as a hotel. The Patricia opened as The Dew Drop Inn, July 23, 1879, and had Nanaimo’s first bowling alley.

Horse racing was popular on Haliburton Street back then too and the hotel’s balcony that overlooked the finish line served as a judging stand. Baker’s horse, Sleepy Dan, which he used as the delivery horse for his butcher shop was considered the best horse and was often banned from the races.

Chris Sholberg, city heritage planner, said in an e-mail that the Patricia Hotel building is not listed in the city heritage register and “ the building was significantly different in form and architecture from the building that was just demolished, which makes me think they were two separate buildings, which occupied the same site at different points in its history.”

Sholberg said it’s also possible part of the old Dew Drop was incorporated into what became the Patricia Hotel.

As to the historical significance of Nanaimo’s old pub-hotels, Sholberg said, “These hotels represent the social importance of hotels in Nanaimo’s history. Like most mining communities, early Nanaimo had a large population of single, often transient, men. As affordable housing alternatives, hotels functioned as living quarters and, in the saloons and restaurants typically located on the ground floor, as social centres.”
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