Sale of Vancouver Island’s most remote pub falls through

Sale of Vancouver Island’s most remote pub falls through

Beloved Holberg pub and restaurant The Scarlet Ibis is back with previous owner

Vancouver Island’s most remote restaurant pub is once again under Pat Gwynne’s management.

At 72, Gwynne is keen to sell The Scarlet Ibis, the Holberg eatery that she’s run for more than 40 years. The Ibis comes with an attached house, a third of an acre of waterfront in the small community near the start of the legendary North Coast Trail, and all the recipes — including her famous chicken wings.

In a normal year (i.e., when there isn’t an eight-month logging strike), the Ibis pulls in $380,000. She’d sell it all for much less. But so far, the buyers she’s courted have not been able to get financing together.

Most recently, a buyer tried to purchase the Ibis last October. Gwynne moved to her townhouse in Chilliwack, but after the deal fell through, Gwynne came back to Holberg in late February.

She fixed up the walls he had pulled out, and reopened the restaurant. Then COVID-19 hit.

The Ibis is now open for takeout, and business is booming with local loggers. Gwynne estimates weekly revenue of $5,000, mostly from loggers.

“Can I get a case of Lucky, please?” a customer hollers into the kitchen.

Gwynne is anxious for people to know she’d really like to sell.

“I could close it and sell it as a house, but it would be really nice to keep it going as the Scarlet Ibis.”

Open view of the Holberg Inlet from The Scarlet Ibis’s dining room. (Zoë Ducklow)

RELATED: Holberg’s Ibis on the map

RELATED: Final flight for the old Scarlet Ibis

Forty years ago, she passed through Holberg with her late fisherman husband and stopped in for a pizza. The Ibis was hiring, and she needed a job.

“The next thing you know, you get rid of the boat, you buy the bar.”

Over the years, she’s had at least two bears come inside for a snack, more than a few whales and porpoises in the inlet, two actual ibis birds (not the scarlet variety) and no more than five bar fights.

“I’ve got a policy that if there’s something I can’t control, or I can’t look after, I close the bar.”

It only happened once where a customer got belligerent. Gwynne had enough and closed up. “And customers never liked that, so they patrol themselves. ‘You better behave yourself. It’s time for you to go home.’ ” The one time police were called, Gwynne was away on holiday.

She’s never had to cut a customer off, but she does strategically “forget” to fill someone’s drink order.

“They’ll come up and ask, hey did you forget my beer? And you say, oh sorry! I’ll get right on that. And then go right on forgetting,” she says, laughing. “I see this place as a home more than a business. Every night, I think of it like, I’m having a party, I wonder who’s going to come?”

Pat Gwynne, owner of the Scarlet Ibis at 72. (Zoë Ducklow)

It’s one of the most remote bars operating in B.C. Holberg has a population of 35 souls according to the 2016 census. Loggers and travellers are what make a business here viable. Accessible is only by a logging road from Port Hardy, and it’s a gateway to spectacular beaches and Cape Scott provincial park on the north west coast of Vancouver Island.

It’s almost inevitable to end up at The Scarlet Ibis if you’re passing through Holberg.

“I’m sorry I’m back, but it is nice to see old faces,” Gwynne says.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Pat Gwynne, still laughing after 40 years. (Zoë Ducklow)

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Rural Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Sale of Vancouver Island’s most remote pub falls through

Sale of Vancouver Island’s most remote pub falls through

Sale of Vancouver Island’s most remote pub falls through

Just Posted

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 160 Comox, B.C. Poppy Chairman, Kent Guilford presenting cheques to the following organizations in support of their venues: (top left) The Sea Cadet Corps who assisted in last year’s Poppy campaign. (Top right) CFB Comox, Military Family Resource Center, Kim Hetherington, executive director MFRC. Bottom, The Views at St Joseph’s, Jessica Aldred, Health Care Foundation, Michael Aikins, senior operations leader. We wish to Thank All those who supported last year’s Poppy Campaign and we hope we will have your continued support this year. Thank you all.
Comox Valley gives back

Spotlight on some of the groups, businesses and individuals who make the Comox Valley great

Union Bay voters chose a new direction Saturday. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Union Bay voters opt for governance change

More than seventy per cent support dissolving UBID to roll services into regional district

A small plane crashed in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

Drift includes the work of poets from around the Comox Valley. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Drift features works by poets from the Comox Valley

Rather than have a set theme, the editors let 38 poets put their best work forward

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Christmas lights are something that people can do to celebrate the season that are not impacted by COVID-19. (file photo)
Editorial: Holidays will be different this year

This Christmas is going to be very different for our communities on… Continue reading

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

Most Read