The Beaufort Café, inside the Beaufort Hotel on Third Avenue in Port Alberni, was the place to be seen in 1944. Standing at the counter on this particular day are Mr. Hugh Lee, left, and his wife Phyllis, waitresses Mollie, Jacky Mulcaster, Cathy Peterson and Sylvia McMillan, and bookkeeper Birdie. Historian Glen Mofford was gifted with this photograph by Jacquelyn R. Zambon (née Mulcaster) in 2013. (PHOTO COURTESY GLEN MOFFORD)

LOOK BACK: The historic Beaufort Hotel in Port Alberni

Taking a peek at Alberni Valley history with historian Glen Mofford

When historian Glen Mofford first moved to Port Alberni in 2013, he put an advertisement in the daily newspaper of the day, asking people if they had photographs or stories to share about Port Alberni hotels. At the time, Mofford was working on a book about old-time saloons and hotel bars, which eventually morphed into Aqua Vitae: A History of the Saloons and Hotel Bars of Victoria, 1851–1917, published by TouchWood Editions.

READ: Author explores historical watering holes

Jacquelyn R. Zambon, 85 at the time, contacted Mofford and gave him a photograph from the historic Beaufort Hotel from 1944.

“I received the photograph from Jacquelyn R. Zambon…after she saw the ad I ran in the AV Times looking for photographs and stories about the local hotels,” Mofford said. “I think your readers may enjoy this unique, rare peek into the past of the Beaufort.”

The Beaufort Hotel and Conference Centre used to take up half a city block between Third and Fourth Avenues in Port Alberni’s ‘Uptown.’ The conference centre was torn down many years ago; Stacey and Franco Gaiga purchased the gravel lot, which at the time was a blight behind a chainlink fence, and built Gaiga Square—a pocket greenspace for residents to enjoy uptown.

The Beaufort Hotel was once considered a hub of the neighbourhood, with a busy beer parlour, café and hotel. In past years it has more of a dubious reputation in the community.

In Jan Peterson’s book Twin Cities: Alberni – Port Alberni, she wrote that the Beaufort Hotel’s beer parlour was closed during the Second World War as the hotel put on “war games,” or preparations in case Port Alberni was attacked, Mofford relates. The café apparently remained open through these preparations, although its windows were blacked out.

Mofford has written several stories about hotels in Port Alberni, for a blog he used to maintain, and now for his second book, Along the E&N: A Journey Back to the Historic Hotels of Vancouver Island. Watch for more stories from and about Mofford in upcoming issues of the Alberni Valley News.

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