It has been half a century since Jerry Gautier hung his backlit, neon sign advertising the Schooner Restaurant’s “Candlelit Room” to Tofino’s then 500 residents.
Visitors to Tofino were a rare and hardy breed back in those days and willing to brave a four-hour, white-knuckle, unpaved logging road from Port Alberni. (So unlike the one-and-a-half hour bone-jarring drive of today!)
This building was originally constructed during WWII as the hospital at the RCAF Base at Long Beach. At war’s end the building was moved to its’ present location on the corner of Campbell and Second Street, which at the time was in the middle of the forest.
Great food has always been part of this building. In 1949, it was Vic’s Coffee Bar and then later it became the Lone Cone Café. The Schooner’s first dining room was a dark place, with multi-coloured lights in the ceiling and plastic space age chairs. It was so groovy….. so cool.
That’s when going out to dine meant pork chops and instant mashed potatoes.
The Schooner has been part of the Bruce family since 1968, when, while managing to raise six young children and holding down a full-time job at the Tofino Co-op, the family matriarch, Gloria Bruce, realized her dream of owning the restaurant.
Her world famous Schooner burgers and fish and chips became the stuff of legend on the Westcoast; referred to frequently in coastal literature and remembered fondly by long-gone loggers and fishermen.
The ship sailed into the dining room in 1974; the dream of three wayward draft dodgers from the Vietnam War.
For them, like generations of locals and visitors alike, the Schooner became their home away from home, a place of work and of play; of long laughter and lasting memories.
We have a resident ghost, Morris, who in the early 70’s lived here and always made the chowder. He may be in the big kitchen in the sky now, but his soul and energy are still here with us. Whenever any thing quirky happens…we blame it on Morris.
Although everything around us is changing, our commitment to warm, West Coast hospitality will always be here. This is an incredible Island we live on and we are proud and honoured to be your hosts. With old friends remembered and new friends to come the Schooner sails on into her next half century.
Thank you for joining us.
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