Here is just a sampling of letters written in support of saving historic St. Andrews Lodge on the Qualicum Beach waterfront from an ill-considered Town Council decision to demolish it, as previously reported. We did not receive any letters in favour of demolition of the Lodge. Although demolition was averted literally at the last moment on Friday, November 6, 2020, the thoughtful comments expressed in these letters are well worth considering to ensure Elizabeth Little’s legacy is respected in future actions.
Reader and relatively new QB resident Rosemary Taylor writes:
SAVE ST. ANDREW’S LODGE
The present Council in Qualicum Beach has, behind the backs of most residents, decided that the treasured St. Andrew’s Lodge should be moved, or better yet, demolished, simply because that is the least expensive option in Council’s misguided view.
As a tourist attraction, Qualicum Beach owes a very great deal to Elizabeth Little and St. Andrew’s Lodge. It has been the place of choice for generations of families to bring their children for summer holidays. It is a well-known landmark on Highway 19a, and it contains not only memories of hundreds who enjoyed the hospitality there, but shows us the culture of the age. It is one of the major centres of Qualicum Beach history, and yet Council, in their penniless haste, can only think of demolishing it to ‘get it off the books’. It is essential to recognize that Qualicum Beach is known to hundreds of visitors BECAUSE OF Elizabeth Little’s unparalleled hospitality which was an entrenched and much looked-forward-to part of many families’ summer.
I am a recent resident of Qualicum Beach, and I am slowly learning the history of the village, its establishment by the movers and shakers, how they built the reputation of the little town with a big beach and good golf courses. I also am a volunteer with the Q.B. Museum, and work in the Archives, scanning old photos so that they can eventually appear on the internet for all to see. However, those photos now depict a place that no longer exists. Changes must be made to allow for progress, but progress is superficial if not built on the history that came before it.
I came to the Island from Vancouver, where I lived for 40 years, and one of the many reasons why I left was because of the constant demolition of historic buildings, the lack of interest in preserving its history, the almost total lack of any acknowledgement of the important events that happened by affixing a plaque on a building to create interest and increase awareness of the importance of history to the growth of the city. Michael Kluckner put it succinctly in the title of his book Vanishing British Columbia. Others have written in the same vein.
I, like thousands of others, have had the opportunity to travel far and wide, and often my choice of destination is determined by the history of the town, city or area I wish to visit. It is still there for me to see and experience. Guides are available to tell me more about the sites I choose to visit, or at least there is often information available on a signboard or brochure. I return home the richer for my experience. If Qualicum Beach insists on erasing history so that it only remains in old photos in dusty filing cabinets, are visitors here going to be enthralled, enriched, or enlightened by a history they can’t see, feel, or hear about? There is the stunning scenery which visitors enjoy, but that is one thing over which Council has no jurisdiction and cannot move or demolish – nature will take care of that!
I therefore implore Council to listen to those who elected them, ask the electorate for their views before making such major decisions on our behalf that are going to damage and diminish the ‘good citizen’ reputation of the town, and put the present Council on the wrong side of history. SAVE ST. ANDREW’S LODGE and the culture it represents. Major funds have needlessly been spent on other projects around town and consequently the coffers have been drained to the point where a decision has been made to the lasting detriment of the town. It erases the years of work by which Elizabeth Little has put Qualicum Beach on the map and does dishonour to her memory. PLEASE THINK AGAIN – Council’s present decision is unacceptable.
Kam and John Schroder write specifically to long-time former mayor, now Councillor, Teunis Westbroek:
Dear former Mayor Teunis,
As the former owners of Fish Tales for 17 years, we beg you to preserve Elizabeth Little’s legacy. Perhaps the present council did not know her personally, but believe us in saying that she was the greatest advocate of Qualicum Beach ever….she even considered shopping as far away as Parksville to be disloyal.
We were privileged to be her friend and neighbor and in our restaurant we heard so many wonderful stories from the guests of St Andrew’s Lodge. One couple in particular had spent their honeymoon there over 50 years ago and continued to visit every year, then followed by their children and grandchildren. You cannot buy this kind of loyalty. In a town so dependent on tourism, why waste such goodwill.
A waterfront park with a plaque would mean very little when you have the chance to preserve the original lodge with all its history. In such a new country as Canada, we should embrace all the history we can.
Please, please do all you can to reverse this decision. At least give the residents a chance to fundraise to keep the building, just as the Heritage Forest was saved and the Old School House. St. Andrews Lodge is no less important. Why give the “Keys to the Town” to Elizabeth Little if you propose to destroy her legacy by tearing down her beloved home?
Thanking you in advance for your consideration of this letter,
Kam & John Schroder
Qualicum Beach resident Kevin Monahan writes:
To the Mayor and Council of Qualicum Beach
I am very disheartened to hear that demolition of St. Andrews lodge may begin as early as Monday of next week. Our town has few enough heritage buildings that we cannot afford to lose any more.
I thought there would be more time to find an alternative solution to demolition. The motion from the October 14 Special Council Meeting suggested that the demolition would not begin until February. The unseemly haste to bring the building down sends only one message—that Council does not care what the public thinks and that the Town will rush the demolition to present its citizens with a fait accompli.
Once the Lodge is gone, it is gone forever. I wonder if the Council is aware of the public perception, both within this Town and beyond our borders, of the value of Vancouver Island’s heritage buildings. St Andrews Lodge was painted twice by the celebrated Vancouver Island artist Edward Goodall.
The Qualicum Beach Education and Wellness Society made a proposal, whereby it would raise funds to restore the building. This proposal was rejected out of hand by the Town Council, due to focusing on other strategic priorities.
I strongly object to this rush to demolition. I believe that the majority of the Town residents would prefer to keep and restore the lodge building. I hope that you will respond to me indicating that what I have heard is just a rumor and that there is still plenty of time to develop plans for the restoration of this iconic building.
I am immensely saddened by this short-sighted decision to willfully destroy this element of our heritage as are many residents of this Town.