A mystery is afoot at the Kingsway Pub. Owner Helen Poon and contractor Chaisson Yellowquill uncovered four paintings beneath several layers of wall when they were renovating the pub, and now Poon is trying to find out more about the paintings.
The paintings are six feet tall by three feet wide and were painted on board. One depicts a mountain scene with a log cabin; two others go together and depict a tugboat named ‘Port Alberni’ on one side pulling a log boom on the second. The fourth is of a bouquet in a vase.
The paintings were buried beneath six layers of wall material, Poon said. “I’m guessing they were part of the original part of the pub. Everytime the space got renovated they would just put on another layer” of drywall or plaster.
“We started tearing everything off and it was like ‘when was it going to end’,” Yellowquill said of the multi layers of wall material.
“We started peeling off what I thought was the last section and I found a corner of a painting sticking out. We carefully excavated around it.”
He also found remnants of two more paintings on the last wall that he renovated. He could just see the top of Mt Arrowsmith in one of the remnants, but there wasn’t enough of the wall to save.
None of the paintings were signed, Yellowquill said.
The location of the paintings seemed to correspond with the general direction of the scenery. “The location of them was kind of important,” he said. “This is the only one (hanging by the raised lounge) we have hanging in the original location—the one with the writing on it.”
That painting has a cutout with photos from the renovation and an explanation. It’s disguising a hole that was cut out of the painting to allow for an extraction fan to be installed.
“I guess when they cut the hole they didn’t know there was a painting there,” he said.
Poon had the paintings framed by Brian Doran at L7 Framing in Port Alberni.
She has hung one and will find a place to hang them in the pub. She is hoping longtime clientele from the pub will be able to help identify the paintings or the painter—or maybe the painter will come forward.
Poon is also hoping people who have historical photos of the pub will consider sharing them, as she doesn’t have many. Anyone with digital copies can e-mail Kingsway3203@gmail.com.