Laughing Loon auction draws a crowd

The Laughing Loon Restaurant and Pub was overflowing with onlookers and bidders last Friday for the sale of its contents by Maynards Auction.

Tony Pitsos (left)

Tony Pitsos (left)

The Laughing Loon Restaurant and Pub was overflowing with onlookers and bidders last Friday for the sale of its contents by Maynards Auction.

When Brothers Rick and Fred Hamel built the Laughing Loon in 1988 and opened its doors in Feb. 1989 it was the most elegant building in the city, and may still be.

In addition to a beautiful design, the building incorporated building materials from various historical sites, and was decorated with historical memorabilia, some found at auction, some donated locally. Over the years, local people added their own bits of memorabilia to the display cabinets — sports trophies, banners, photographs, newspaper clippings, rodeo buckles, pocket watches, dice, games, and more.

Some people keeping tabs on the distress auction were concerned these items would be lost from the community.

It is hard to say where all of the local memorabilia ended up, but at least one of the 928 lots of items auctioned is destined to become a fixture at another local pub/restaurant.

The octagon table with the glass top and display case featuring hundreds of small local pieces of memorabilia became the object of a bidding war between B Hooker and Brian Evjen of Oliver’s Pub.

Hooker stopped bidding at about $1,000 letting the table go for about $1,050.

Hooker’s plan was to take the table home to remember life at the Loon. “I’m happy I made him pay more for it,” Hooker jokes.

Hooker says he was, however, able to successfully bid on some of the memorabilia in another display case. He wasn’t sure what all of the items were in it, but he did see some Stampeder’s memorabilia and some newspaper clippings about Monty Exton’s sports exploits.

Evjen was shy about having his picture taken but says the octagon table will become a fixture at Oliver’s.

Danny Latin and Kari Gertzen, who were among the group contemplating their bids while sitting around the octagon table, pointed out that a lot of great conversations have happened around that particular table over the years and they were happy to see it stay in the city.

Mike Krotow said he was successful in bidding on the large wooden carving of a salmon, which a friend of his had carved and sold to the Loon 20 years ago.

Sylvia Duhamel, who worked at the Loon for 12 years and has owned the Alley Katz Bistro for the past nine years, was able to pick up a few things for her own restaurant and a piece of Loon memorabilia.

She says she paid $160 for the crib table that also has a few other games with it.

Cathy Hamel says she and her husband Rick have been out of the restaurant for 10 years but left some of their own memorabilia at the Loon, never expecting that it would be sold by auction.

She said her heart feeling was that the local memorabilia should have gone to the museum, but that wasn’t an option when the bailiff put the locks on the doors.

Among their personal items in the building were awards they had won, and a newspaper clipping from the 1950s/60s about the city council of the day, which she had found in her grandmother’s cedar trunk and had framed for display.

“It’s very heartbreaking,” Cathy says. “It is tough to put your heart and soul into something and then see it go.”

While many of the items on display were of local interest, many others were purchased by the Hamels at auction to create the Loon’s cozy/historical atmosphere.

The solid brass cash register that was auctioned came from an old saloon in the Northwest Territories.

A Penny Weigh Scale was manufactured in New York in 1901.

The Hamels also bought many of the building materials that make the Loon special in auctions.

The solid mahogany-paneled doors throughout the building came from an historic courthouse in Portland, Oregon.

Five solid granite stair treads, at 1,400 pounds each, came from an historic government building in New Westminster.

A total of 80,000 pounds of square-cut granite was saved from a demolition site in Vancouver and incorporated into the Loon’s exterior.