We don’t have that many buildings that date back more than 100 years.
And even fewer that are as recognizable as the Quamichan Inn was.
On the weekend a fire consumed the local landmark, closing the doors for good on the Bed and Breakfast and restaurant in the historic building.
It’s a blow to the owners, certainly, but it’s also a blow to the whole of the Cowichan Valley community.
Many people have memories of the Quamichan Inn.
They have stayed there, eaten there, or attended an important event there.
It’s been the site of many milestones for many people — weddings, birthdays, graduations, retirement parties.
People began to share them as they heard about the devastating fire.
“Is this where Sabrina and Just got married? How awful — that place was so charming,” read one post on the Citizen’s Facebook page.
“So sad! A fixture on Maple Bay Road,” laments another.
“How sad Joy we had such a lovely stay there — tragic,” a third recalls.
On the Cowichan Valley Citizen’s website (www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com), commentary was equally wistful.
“So sad. Great memories here. Celebrated my 50th birthday there. Was thinking it would be a great spot to get married there,” said one poster.
Two other posts made clear what a landmark it was.
“Such a sad loss of an iconic building,” said one, while the other mourned, “So sad that this beautiful place is gone.”
And that’s in recent times. Be sure to check out T.W. Paterson’s column on page 11 for more on the building’s origins and more than a century of history.
Of course the most important thing is that nobody was hurt in the fire.
In that sense the Valley was lucky to avoid a tremendous tragedy.
But as the community commentary shows, the loss of the building is a blow.
It strikes at our collective identity.
While any building is just bricks and mortar, drywall and plywood and particle board, they can become a part of us, for good or ill. It’s why most people don’t want to buy the home of a serial killer, or a place where a family died.
For people in the Cowichan Valley, the Quamichan Inn stood out. As one drove along Maple Bay Road it’s appearance made it a sight that slowed many a driver on their way to the shore for a little gawking at its Tudor elegance.
And for those who enjoyed its hospitality it stood out as a beacon of warmth, of fond good memories. It shakes us when it’s suddenly gone, but those memories will live on.