“I always had a thing for Tudor style,” says Belanger. “I always knew I was going to open a bed and breakfast, so when this was on the back cover of the Georgia Straight in the summer of 2012, that started the roller coaster.”
Now he offers a night’s stay, homemade brunch and, if they’re lucky, guests might even experience a ghostly encounter.
Brunch is available from 9 am to 1 pm six days a week (Tuesday to Sunday), inside or on the patio with a view of the mill, ocean and islands. Guests enjoy homemade meals sourced from local producers, including Belanger’s famous homestyle blackberry jam.
“It’s just a quiet, great place to eat and bring the family,” explains Belanger. “We’ve pride ourselves on being a place where your food is homemade. It’s made all in-store, and everything we get is from within a 50-mile radius.”
He says zero waste is strived for by sourcing items free of unnecessary packaging, recycling whenever possible and using a composting freezer from qathet Regional District’s Let’s Talk Trash team.
Coming soon is a new menu and a four-season enclosed wraparound patio.
The infamous building with Tudor-style architecture once housed the Powell River courts, jail, police station and all other provincial government services. Today it is a unique, eight-room boutique heritage hotel with Apple TV streaming. Visitors can bring their favourite shows and use the new digital concierge, and enjoy upgraded bedding.
“We’re currently renovating rooms again; we’re trying to take it up to another level,” says Belanger. “Now we have WiFi throughout the building, additional outlets in all the rooms, big screen TVs where space allows, a security system and cameras. We look after our guests and make them feel safe and comfortable.”
Soon he will bring up jail cell doors from the basement to the front of the building. But those are not the only relics hanging around the inn.
Starting this October, Belanger says he’s putting together a paranormal investigation tour.
“We’re having some paranormal investigators come up. People will rent rooms, and they’ll be able to have equipment and go ghost hunting with those professionals.”
The tour has been in the works for a year, working with The Paranormal Road Trippers, who just finished filming an episode featuring the Old Courthouse Inn. The trailer can be viewed on YouTube by searching: Trailer - Ghosts at the Inn.
“The inn has always had ghosts; there’s enough footage for a full episode,” says Belanger. “I know for sure we have about five ghosts. Three of them make themselves known quite frequently. I have a lady, I have a little boy, and then we have a portly fellow who likes to let us know he’s there.”
Every once in a while, he says he smells rosewater. That’s when he knows a familiar female specter has come to say hello.
“Also, a little guy comes around to poke you, pull your hair or hide something from you,” he adds. “At the bottom of the stairs, you might even smell cherry cigars or pipe smoke. And then we also have a lady who plays the piano in the hall.”
Despite the apparitions, he says he loves the charm of the inn, and he’s not going anywhere.
“I have fun; I love it,” says Belanger. “And there’s still so much more I’m planning on doing.”
The Old Courthouse Inn and Edie Rae’s Café are located at 6243 Walnut Street in Townsite.
“We’re happy to have everyone,” says Belanger. “I have some new faces, but I’ve been very fortunate that the staff are so hard working. It’s like a family.”