Back in the days when new houses were announced in the newspapers…
In 1900, the Nelson Tribune announced the completion, by D.J.Dewar, of ‘two semi-detached residences on Victoria Street costing $4,000’. The Dewar family, part of the Scottish whisky clan, moved in from the place where almost all pioneers began their residency in Nelson, the camp village on the pest-riddled mudflats by the lakeshore, land today considered unfit for human occupation and instead used by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Donald Dewar was a Scottish Presbyterian, aptly enough, from Nova Scotia, while his wife, Edith, was English. He was an entrepreneur who came to Nelson to work as secretary in his cousin’s lumber business. He shared the house, originally a duplex, with his relative and soon made his own mark on the Nelson business scene, offering his services as a justice of the peace, notary public, loans broker, real estate agent and insurance dealer.
However, it seemed that his eye was attracted by other opportunities, as his new house is on the market by November 1901. His plans are to relocate to Calgary as a realtor and insurance agent after a trip back home to Pictou, NS.
Into the War years
It is sold as a family residence, and little is known about its development in the 1910s and 1920s, other than that is probably when the dormers were added to the top floor.
What is most unusual about the building is that there is only one staircase to the third floor, a common feature in the East, but much rarer in British Columbia. This served the house well in its next function as a boarding house in the 1930s because the whole of the top floor was big enough for entire families to live in. Today it is the hotel’s spacious Tamarack Apartment.
The property continued to take tenants as the owner, now one Jessie Barton, needed income as her husband, like many men of a certain age from the area, never returned from the First World War. It continued to take in guests until her death, aged 61, in 1947. It returned to private ownership as a family home for the next forty years.
Once upon a time, Nelson’s finest restaurant
The next available City records show the conversion of the downstairs to a fine-dining restaurant in 1987 with individual rooms to rent on the second floor, and the top floor rented out totally separately. It appears that the owners of the Victoria Street Restaurant had a disagreement over how to run the business, and word has it that the chef disappeared suddenly one day, taking a large share of the proceeds from the safe with him.
Which left it on the market for two touring Torontonians who were crossing the country in a campervan, looking for a change of pace and a new life out west. They painstakingly renovated the entire building (and we mean from the basement up), establishing Nelson’s oldest bed and breakfast business back in 1993.
Onto the current owners
A new life even further out west was what brought the next purchasers, and current owners, from England in 2006. They were not looking for a bed and breakfast but for any job outside of the UK, and the inn provided that option. One year and one baby boy later, they renamed the business the Cloudside Inn and expanded it by adding a family home at the rear.
Surviving the recession of 2008-2012, business gradually began to grow and after ten years and almost 30,000 guests, they took the decision to retire from the breakfast business and move into the hotel sector. Extensive redevelopments began in October 2016, including converting the residential hallway into a reception, upgrading all units to include private bathrooms, and replacing the last remaining wiring from the 1950s to state of the art cabling to provide hi-speed Internet and satellite TV. But while modern on the inside, the plan is still to keep this grand old house just as it might have looked from the outside as long ago as 1900.