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The Tzouhalem Hotel, 1901 to 1990 | by glenalan54
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The Tzouhalem Hotel, 1901 to 1990

The Tzouhalem Hotel was built in 1901 and graced the corner of Front and Trunk Road (later name changed to Canada Avenue and Trunk Road) in an area then known as Duncan's Station, a stop on the E & N Railroad.

The Tzouhalem Hotel was named after the Coast Salish Chief, Tzouhalem.


The hotel was owned and run by E.A. Price and his brother Frank from 1901 until 1923.


"The Tzouhalem Hotel offered a breakfast of toast upon which was ladled kippers and grilled kidneys. The tudor-style Tzouhalem Hotel became a favourite haunt of British gentlemen and their less numerous gentlewomen. The hotel was opulently

furnished, mounted heads of hunting

trophies adorned the walls, fur skins were draped over stairwell banisters, potted lush tropical plants stood in the corners, and whist, bridge and billards were played in the bar late into the night."

A quote from: Soundrels, Dreamers & Second Sons by Mark Zuehlke.


In 1923 the Prices retired and leased the hotel to Thomas Berry. Three years later, in 1926 the hotel was sold to Grant and Elizabeth Thorburn.

Grant managed the hotel until his death in 1930 when his wife, Elizabeth took over and ran it until 1953 at which time her son-in-law, Donald Butt, managed the hotel.


Through the 1960's and 1970's the old hotel was showing her age. The popular beer parlour, nicknamed "The Zoo" obtained a reputation as a rowdy and at times dangerous place to imbibe. In addition the Tzouhalem beer parlour plus the Commercial Hotel just across the tracks, coined the towns name as "Drunkin' Duncan", not exactly the reputation that the City Fathers enjoyed.


A fire in 1980 almost proved fatale but quick action by local firefighters saved most of the structure from destruction in spite of the fire sprinklers inside the hotel not operating. The hotel sustained around $100,000 damage mostly to the upper floor; this after a recent renovation that cost $70,000. was too much for the owners so they closed the upper part of the hotel but continued to run the 154-seat pub.


Shortly after the fire the name of the hotel changed to the Duncan Inn but a name change didn't help change the hotels seedy reputation. It was just a matter of time when the place would close.

That time came in December 1989.


There was talk of tearing the historic hotel down and replacing it with an eight-five seat neighbourhood pub but nothing happened.

Finally on September 14 to 16, 1990 the hotel, at one time one of the finest in the Cowichan Valley, was demolished.


A parking lot now occupies the spot where the hotel once stood. Plans are afoot to build on the site in 2012. "Intercoast's Stephen Holland said Sunday that he wants to construct a historically-themed building, tentatively called "The Alderlea," featuring two commercial spaces and six live-work spaces on the ground floor plus 24 residential suites of a thousand square feet each upstairs."

Quote from: Lexi Bainas, The Citizen

Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Sources and links:

Glen Mofford Collection; Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives



Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives


Thornburn Family;rad




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Taken on November 14, 2011