Anticipating the railroad, the first hotel at Shawnigan was built in 1885 by Charlie Morton. Known as Morton House, it was situated close to the present E. & N. Station. An account by N. E. Losee, first mill-owner of the day, in an early issue of the Daily Colonist, states that all passenger trains, both north and south bound, were timed to stop and remain at Morton House for ten minutes in order to accommodate their more thirsty passengers. In fact a good many fishermen were known to have spent. several days at a time under Charlie Morton’s wharf.
Shortly after this, in 1900, the Strathcona Hotel was built at what was then known as Gilesville (after an early settler). Contrary to popular belief, the hotel did not start as a C.P.R. Hotel. In 1900 the Shawnigan Lake Hotel Company Limited was incorporated with head office in Victoria. A ninety-nine year lease of the site of Strathcona Lodge was obtained from the E. & N. and the hotel was built for an approximate sum of $15,000.
But on May 15, 1900, the Colonist reported that “the hotel had burned at its birth.” The work of reconstruction began immediately with the same contractor and the same plans and on September 19, 1900, the Strathcona Hotel was formally opened to the public.
Mr. C. W. Lonsdale was a manager of Strathcona Lodge just prior to his founding of the Shawnigan Lake School in 1916.
In 1916-17 that the Lodge was taken over by the C.P.R. Strathcona Lodge was taken over at that time by M. A. Wylde, who operated the hotel until 1927, when he sold it to Miss M. Gildea, who established a girls’ school on the premises.
Shawnigan Lake Hotel/Koenig's
In 1902, two years after the opening of the Strathcona Hotel, Morton House burned down. The
Koenigs immediately replaced their popular hotel with the more modern and attractive Shawnigan Lake Hotel. Although her husband was drowned in the lake in 1902, Mrs. Koenig and her two sons continued to operate the hotel, including within it a store and post office, until 1912, when it was sold to Mr. James Finlay. He ran it until 1916, when it was burned down, not to be replaced.
Prior to 1914, the station at the village was named Koenig’s Station after these popular pioneers.
Another Shawnigan hotel, remembered only by a few old-timers, was Savira Lodge, built early in the
century to accommodate hunters and fishermen. It was situated on the west side of the lake opposite Ten Acre or Long Island. At that time there was no road on the west side, so access was by boat only.
The building was bought in 1928, for a summer home, by Major Piddington of
Victoria. From 1928 to 1930 there is a listing for “Sovora (sic) Lodge (Major Piddington) hotel.”
Early facilities at Savira Lodge were of the most primitive, there being no electricity, no water laid on, and no thoroughfare except the lake. However, the cuisine was of such high standard that hunting and fishing came second as pastimes to eating, to the inmates of the lodge. In the early 1980s the lodge was opened once again for rental, but unfortunately was accidently burned down by the lodgers.
Forest Inn/Shawnigan Beach Hotel
In 1926, the late Mr. Frederick C. Mason-Hurley came to Shawnigan Lake with his family, on his retirement from forty years with the British Civil Service in China. The Hurleys bought the DeSalis place on the west side of the lake, now their home “Glenduff.” To gain lake access they also bought the Neville Armstrong house on the shore. Friends of theirs from China came and camped on the beach. The spot was a lovely one and people wanted to stay, and before long the Bullen family, who were the first guests, were followed by others who were accommodated in the Armstrong house with Mrs. K. Bloomquist (sister of Mrs. Kingsley of the former Shawnigan Lake Hotel) as manageress and Sam, a Chinese cook, in the kitchen.
This was the beginning of the Forest Inn, as it was first called. The summer hotel grew in popularity and
became well known for the quality of service and entertainment it gives to its clients. In 1939, the name was changed to the Shawnigan Beach Hotel, and in 1945, Mr. Dennis Mason-Hurley took over the management of his father’s business and further developed it as a “family hotel,” adding more outdoor games and evening entertainment. Additions were made over the years that increased the accommodation of the hotel from the original four rooms to the present fifty. Extra living units on the grounds allow the hotel to register up to one hundred and fifty guests.
The two-generation connection of the Hurley family with the hotel was broken, however, in 1966, with the sale of the establishment to Mr. K. G. Watt, of Vancouver. The Shawnigan Inn, as it was called, was open the year round. It remained open until the late 1980s when it was briefly an International School site, and then in the early 1990s was demolished and reconstructed as a time share condo resort.