Best Western Chemainus
In 1993 the Chemainus Theatre Festival was founded. It was the dream of Ken Smith, philanthropist, and his wife Ruth. They hoped to bring the live theatre experience to Canada’s west coast, modelled largely after Stratford Ontario’s famous theatre experience. Many volunteers poured endless hours into the dream. And guess what, it happened. The 270-seat theatre, with a 200-seat dinning room, now draws almost 75,000 theatre goers each year.
As is often the case, great success often brings serious challenges. In our case, where to put all the guests? Patrons were coming in droves from as far away as Courtney, Nanaimo, Victoria and even by ferry from the B.C. lower mainland. Chemainus didn’t have a hotel large enough to hold them all!
In 2003 R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd was called and asked how fast they could build a 75 room Best Western Plus Hotel. An agreement was reached, on the condition it be finished in less than one year! One problem though, the Chemainus Theatre Festival was still growing fast! So, R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd not only built the 56,500 square foot hotel, they also built a three-story office building, a 5,000 square foot rehearsal hall, a set shop, a dance studio, and a costume studio. All within that one year promised.
Ramada Inn Nanaimo
For much of Nanaimo’s early life it was called “Black Diamond City”. Where coal was king, and the hospitality industry thrived. There were more than fifty hotels in Nanaimo already in the 1800’s. In 2009 another was added by R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd. This being the Ramada Inn on the corner of Rosehill and Hwy 19A. R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd was told in no uncertain terms the contract to build this sixty-five-unit hotel was conditional on building it in record time.
So, a new approach to building hotels was in definingly in order. Wall started one crew doing foundations on site, while having another crew start building all the wall, floor & roof sections at another location. Once the concrete footings & foundations were in place, many tractor-trailer loads of pre-built wall, floor, and roof sections arrived daily. A very large crane was kept on site to offload the prebuilt panels, and stand them up in-place, coming right off the delivery truck! Even the furniture and linens were ordered several months earlier than normal.
Many neighbours commented that they were amazed a hotel could be built so fast. Somehow R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd had managed to construct the quickest hotel assembly Nanaimo had ever seen.
The Marinaside Resort
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Oxy Liquor Store
The Occidental Hotel was built in Nanaimo in 1887 by Samuel Fiddick to accommodate patrons of the E & N Railway station, which was located across the street. Locals still call the iconic hotel by its original “nickname”, the Oxy. By 2005 the hotel was to find itself in the centre of what had become the “Old City Quarter” of Nanaimo. The decision was made by the ownership to hire R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd to build the “Oxy Liquor Store”, to better serve the vibrant residential community now surrounding the hotel.
The New liquor store was designed with special attention to detail. Architectural features and trims were chosen to pay homage to the 118-year-old “Grand Dam’ next door. The “goose neck” exterior lights, antique brick facing, and the 12/12 “steep pitch” gable roof complete with “knee braces”, all make this building fit perfectly into the neighbourhood.
While the two extra rows of reinforcing steel in the top and bottom of the building foundations, the one & two-hour firewalls, and the complete “rain screen system” on exterior walls will ensure this part of the Occidental Hotel story goes on for many more years.