“This is a dream,” says JP Brosseau as he shows off The Old Courthouse Inn that he and partner Kelly Belanger recently purchased. “I wake up every day and can’t believe this is my business and new home.”
JP was born and raised in Powell River. He had been living in Cold Lake, Alberta with Kelly for the last four years and came to Powell River at the end of July for a visit. “Kelly picked up The Georgia Straight and saw an ad in there that said The Old Courthouse Inn was for sale.” Meanwhile, JP was busy making dates and trying to visit all his friends. “Kelly pointed to the ad and I said we’re having coffee there tomorrow. Lilia and Ian are friends of mine.”
Kelly has always loved antiques and heritage homes. “Ever since he was a little boy he’s wanted to own a Tudor style house,” says JP. “He always had the idea of owning a B & B someday. We had planned to open one in Mexico in a few years and I was supposed to be going there in September for six months to see if I could handle the heat and humidity.”
JP and Kelly came for coffee at The Old Courthouse Inn and Lilia Cardoso Gould gave them a tour.
Located in a National Historic District in the Historic Townsite, The Old Courthouse Inn once housed the courts, jail, police station and all other provincial government services. In 1997, the Old Courthouse was purchased by Ian Gould and Lilia Cardoso Gould. They did a huge amount of work restoring this beautiful building, keeping in mind the integrity of the structure and respecting the history of the building while updating to modern standards of comfort and convenience.
JP points out that the basement, an area of 3,000 square feet, is totally undeveloped space. “It was where the jail used to be,” he said.
After finishing coffee with Lilia, JP and Kelly went to see realtor Jason Zroback about purchasing the inn. They got their financing in place. “In less than one week our offer was accepted and everything was in order,” says JP. “It was ours.” They packed up their house in Cold Lake, put it on the market and took possession of The Old Courthouse Inn on September 1. Meanwhile Lilia and her family have embarked on a new adventure after purchasing a farm in the Paradise Valley. “This place is such an amazing local iconic building,” says JP. “Everyone used to come here to get their wedding licenses, drivers licenses, and sign papers. Lots of people have stories about spending the night in jail,” he laughs.
Despite the fact that The Old Courthouse Inn was once the provincial courthouse, there are some locals who’ve lived here a long time who have never set foot inside the place. So that everyone can see the historic building, JP and Kelly will be offering tours for locals and tourists alike during Sundays in November.
JP and Kelly live in the Innkeepers suite, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, apartment. The Old Courthouse Inn has eight guest rooms and is furnished with antiques and collectables, but the beds are modern and super comfy. “I’ve had five repeat guests so far because of the beds!” says JP. And maybe because of the super hospitality guests can expect. Although tourists enjoy this heritage hotel, locals do too.
“People will stay here for weddings that are held at Dwight Hall. It’s a great place to stay if you are looking for something funky or different for the holidays, or any time of year,” says JP. JP’s family can traces its roots in Powell River back to the early 1900s. “My great-grandpa came here as a young man with his family. Olson’s Landing is named after my Grandpa’s family,” he said. “I’m related to Andy and Clarabelle Anderson.” JP’s childhood knowledge of Powell River is handy when it comes to helping guests. “I know lots of great places to send locals,” he says.
Another local born and bred Powell Riverite, Wendy Blaikie, is working at The Old Courthouse Inn as The Keeper of the Inn, helping out with all aspects of running the inn; recycling, composting, cleaning, etc. Already, JP and Kelly have plans to use the huge upper parkinglot behind the old Courthouse. They’d like to turn it into a garden and use the produce in the restaurant they plan to open in the near future, with a gazebo for functions surrounded by trees, shrubs and flowers, inviting guests to relax and enjoy their stay in a place full of heritage — a reminder of a time when life’s pace was slower and less hectic.
We look forward to meeting you.
Kelly Belanger and JP Brosseau