The History of the Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites Location
Before “Vista 18”, our rooftop restaurant was called the “Parrot House Restaurant” in honour of a parrot. Louis was his name. Like the restaurant, he had a splendid view. Louis’ view was natural for someone who was both rich and famous.
Some years ago, he was quietly removed from his private estate out of a somewhat controversial situation to a place of seclusion where he quietly enjoyed the remaining years of his life. Despite the erosion of inflation, his pension arrangement was adequate to meet his daily requirements and a bit more.
Louis was a gift to Miss Victoria Jane Wilson, from her father on her fifth birthday in 1882. He came to live at 727 Courtney Street, the big white mansion on the hill where the Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites now stands.
As with many famous and secluded persons, there were rumours. A persistent one was that Louis was a hard drinking recluse. This was untrue. He enjoyed a tot of brandy when fighting a cold or on some special occasion, but preferred eggs.
Although pampered through many years as the favourite pet, personal wealth and subsequent fame did not come to Louis until after Miss Wilson’s death in 1946. Besides the house and its large area of land, she left an electric automobile, over 100 pairs of white gloves, a large collection of clothing and an aviary in which Louis was the principal resident.
The will distributed most of the estate to charity, but retained a generous sum for the stipulated support of Louis and the rest of the feathered flock. Miss Wilson gave the responsibility of caring for the house and Louis to Yue Wah Wong, her trusted gardener. Over the years, the other birds passed away, and gradually fame came to Louis. Many thousands of words have been written about him, including a full page story in Life magazine.
But this residential arrangement bothered many Victoria people for various reasons. Some of them felt that the aging resident should be moved and the property developed in keeping with the growth of what had become an important area of the Capital City since Miss Wilson’s death. Finally, in 1966, the lawyer administering the estate could not justify the mounting cost of supporting Louis at 737 Courtney. He transferred ownership of the bird to Wong and arranged for his lifelong care. Wong was delighted, but, sadly, died not long afterward. His family continued to bestow care and affection on Louis until his death in 1985 at 115 years of age.
The property had changed hands several times since Miss Wilson’s death, but a clause in the sale had required that the aviary be leased and this had prevented any redevelopment. Louis’ departure cleared the way for change, and today the Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites stands on the location of the historic Wilson home.
Victoria Jane’s Ghost
When the hotel was constructed, a bar called “Victoria Jane’s” was added in the main floor of the building. Soon after it opened for business, the staff would notice a lady come in and sit down at the bar. She would be nicely dressed, although a bit old-fashioned, and she always set a pair of white gloves on the table beside her. She was very quiet and didn’t interact with anyone as she came in. When the staff would go to serve her, she would either not say anything at all, or simply disappear in front of them.
Guests using any of the 3 elevators would sometimes be delayed on the way to their rooms. Once entering the elevator and selecting their floor, all the rest of the buttons would light up one by one as if being pressed by an unseen hand. The elevator would then stop at each floor where the doors would open, no one would get on, the doors would close, and the elevator continued to the next floor. This too is Victoria Jane, riding up and down for fun.
In an office on the top floor, there is the sensation of being watched. The cleaning lady would come in the evenings and leave the door open while she cleaned. The door is heavy and has a solid latch to close. On a number of occasions while working she would hear the door close. She would go into the hallway and find no one there. After leaving the door open and returning to her job, it would happen again. Finally one day when the door closed, she said, “I’m sorry, I’m not finished yet. Could you please open it back up?” The door opened on its own. She now closes and locks the door when she cleans.
The Story of Shaker ~ A Dog Worth Immortalizing
In the early 70’s a German Short Haired Pointer pup came into this world. No one knew at that time he would later be immortalized in bronze along with his future master, Mr. Clive Piercy, who was the owner of the Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites.
Shaker grew to be an excellent hunting, pointing and retrieving dog. Mr. Piercy enjoyed many hunting adventures with him, mostly in the prairies. They travelled annually to Alberta to shoot upland game. Shaker was a willing participant, often sitting in cold duck blinds and making retrieves through ice. On one occasion he retrieved twenty-five pheasants in one day for a group of hunters! Shaker was also known to retrieve two game birds in his mouth at the same time.
He was a big, strong, powerful dog and had a strong personality to match. On one particular hunting trip, Mr. Piercy and his group were very successful in their hunting efforts and the dog was working extra hard. He was getting tired and his owner had to pressure him to retrieve the last Blue Grouse of the day. Shaker reluctantly trotted out of sight in search of the game, but did not return. After several shouts, Mr. Piercy climbed down a great ridge only to find the dog sitting alone, defiantly. Shaker would not budge, even as his master approached calling his name. Finally, the dog was persuaded to move and upon closer evaluation, Mr. Piercy could see that he had been sitting on the Blue Grouse! It seems the tables had been turned; the dog had coaxed the hunter to retrieve the bird! In his senior years, Shaker was bred and had a litter of four pups, of which Mr. Piercy kept two. He referred to them as “Gifts from Heaven”; and they were thus named Angel and Star. Mr. Piercy’s parent company, which owns the Chateau Victoria Hotel, was named Angelstar Holdings in honour of these pups.
Shaker passed away in 1985 and his ashes are buried in the Piercy Family Plot at the Ross Bay Cemetery under the memorial plaque of “Faithful Companion”.
Mr. Piercy’s statue includes his other great love, river and ocean fishing. The Steelhead “swimming” in the fountain is a replica of a 26 lb. trout he caught in the Queen Charlotte Islands on the north coast of British Columbia. The real fish is mounted and hangs on the wall in Clive’s Classic Lounge located in the lobby of the hotel.