A Piece of Nanaimo History – The Occidental Hotel


The beginnings of the E&N Railway

The Occidental Hotel – a piece of Nanaimo history dates back to the 1870’s when construction began on the Canadian Pacific Railway. The construction of a transcontinental railroad linking British Columbia with the eastern Canadian provinces which was one of the ‘terms of the Union’ when BC joined the Canadian federation in 1871. Victoria, being the capital of British Columbia, was proposed as the railways western terminus, thereby connecting Vancouver Island to the mainland.

Due to the impracticability of bringing the railway across the Strait of Georgia to Victoria, it was decided that the railway would take an alternate route and that the line would end in Vancouver. Vancouver Island it seemed , would not benefit from the transcontinental railway, and Island residents, angered by the change in route, threatened to secede from Canada and become an independent colony.

To prevent this, the Federal Government offered to build an Island Railway and began to look for someone to build it. Robert Dunsmuir, the coal magnate from Wellington, BC was eventually chosen. He obtained financial aid from a group of American railroad millionaires and formed the company which was to build and own the railroad. Dunsmuir’s company received a land grant, consisting of a twenty mile wide strip of land on Vancouver Island’s east coast, as well as a subsidy of $750,000.

Construction began on the Victoria-Nanaimo portion of the railway in 1884 and was completed in August 1886, when the last spike was driven by Sir John A. Macdonald at Shawnigan Lake.  Dunsmuir’s railway became known as the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway.

Samuel Fiddick

With the completion of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway in sight Samuel Fiddick (1833 – 1900) decided that it would be a profitable venture to build a hotel near the railway’s terminus on Selby Street. Nanaimo was to become dependent on the railroad for passenger and freight service, and the Occidental Hotel or “Oxy” as it became known, was built to “cater to the railroad trade.”  Over the years, many patrons came to know the Occidental Hotel as “the first and the last.” Upon arriving in Nanaimo by train, the Occidental was the first pub, and upon leaving, it was the last.

Estimated Costs were $8000

The Occidental Hotel was built with money Samuel Fiddick received several years earlier from the sale of his coal lands in Cranberry District.  He and James Beck sold their interests near the Nanaimo River Bridge to James Harvey, close friend and associate of Robert Dunsmuir, for a large sum.

In 1886, Samuel Fiddick purchased three lots between Selby and Richards Streets from Thomas E. Peck of Cavan Street, Nanaimo.  Each lot had a frontage of 55ft on Fitzwilliam Street and varied in depth from 125ft  to 145ft. He submitted plans and specs for his proposed two story brick building to the City in March of 1886.  Alfred Summerhayes was awarded the contract to build Samuel Fiddick’s hotel and  construction cost’s were estimated at $8,000.  Before construction began, Fiddick altered the shape of the building so that its walls were built to the angle of the street.

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The first story was to be comprised of a bar and billiard hall in between.  The kitchen, washrooms, storage rooms, etc were to be located at the rear. The second story was to consist of thirteen large bedrooms.  In December of 1886 Samuel Fiddick applied to the City for a license to sell ales, wines, and liquors by retail.  His license was granted. An early advertisement read:


And the rest is History.  We are intending to do a series of blogs about Nanaimo’s history and its historical landmarks.  If you have any history that you would like to share about Nanaimo,  we would love to hear from you.

For Sale

The Occidental Hotel: MLS® 941055




The Million Dollar Question…


The bank of Canada has just raised their rate to a 22 year high at 5.0%. This move has us all pondering : What are interest rates going to do?  Whether you’re a Mortgage Broker, a Realtor, a homeowner, a consumer, or an investor – everyone wants to know what interest rates are going to do. This proves to be a challenging question.  Below are some of the latest opinions of reputable economists.

What the economists think

The economists are divided on predictions for not only the next BOC meeting, but also the strategy that will unfold in the coming months.

RBC Economics – Claire Fan:

“We continue to expect the full impact of rate hikes to date to come through gradually, slow spending over the second half of this year and for that to push the central bank back on the sidelines with no additional interest rate hikes this year.” 

Desjardins’ Senior Director of Economics Randall Bartlett:

“Given that the Bank even considered pausing at this month’s meeting, the better-than-expected inflation outcome reinforces our forecast for the overnight rate to be maintained at 5% for the remainder of the year,” he noted.

CIBC Economist Benjamin Tal:

“This is opening the door for another move in September,” Tal said. “Our official call is now that the Bank of Canada is going to move again, unfortunately, in September by 25 basis points, and that maybe will be the end of it.”

“We have to realize that we are already in a process of, in my opinion, overshooting – maybe by design by the Bank of Canada,” he said. “But it also means that if you overshoot, you accelerate the process of cutting.”

“We have to realize that this is an asymmetrical game, namely a situation in which the Bank of Canada is getting mixed signals from the economy,” he explained. “Some signals suggest that the economy is strong, some suggest that the economy is reacting to higher interest rates and slowing down, especially the housing market.”  

So, now what?

While interest rates play a major part in our clients decisions, the basic need of housing is universal and is not going away.  Fixed interest rates may be around 5-6% range, making home ownership more costly than Rent is astronomical and not doing anything to build clients networth.  

At the end of the day, you have to live somewhere! Real Estate is always a good long-term investment.

If you have questions, we are here to help. 250-753-2242

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Did someone say “Second Home” ?


University will start in the Fall for some of our kids, perhaps you’re seeking out accommodation options for your student.  Perhaps your looking to buy a second home to reside in for commuting purposes, or want to buy a vacation property to enjoy.  Others might want to purchase a property to move a family member closer.  Canadians are allowed to purchase a second home with minimum down payment as long as the use of the home meets certain requirements.   


The kids may have graduated high school, but that doesn’t always mean providing for them is done.  High rent amounts and cost of living make it challenging for young adults to get ahead.  Even with full time jobs.  Challenging stressful times await these young adults, going to school, having limited time to work to pay bills, living on their own for the first time and studying to achieve their education goals to secure their future employment. Having housing in place is a monumental difference maker and a stress relief, allowing them to concentrate on schooling.  The second home program can help.


The caveat to this program is that the home must be occupied by an immediate family member. Buying property for a child in University is a great example. Helping a child with housing in that way not only gives them shelter, but provides them the life lesson of homeownership.  They will learn how real estate can produce wealth, and how getting your money to work for you can be a life changer. Help your kids save on rent, while you invest in Real Estate and their future.   University is a massive expense–maybe the real estate you purchase increases in value while they are in school, offsetting the cost of their education.  The return will be worth it! 


The fast ferry is making its maiden voyage in Nanaimo.  With Vancouverites being able to commute to Nanaimo with a short sail across the ocean, housing in Nanaimo will be that much more desirable. More people who already commute that “hour plus” drive in Vancouver to their job can look at purchasing a property in Nanaimo. They could buy a home in Nanaimo as a second property.  Mortgages are possible!


Summer weather comes with heat, and the desire to be by the water. While travelling around during the summer months you might find that special spot you and the family fall in love with. You can look at purchasing a property in that area, creating family memories for generations. That summer cabin can be bought with minimum down, and you can start making your own family memories this year.  


Summer is always a great time to relocate too. Do you have that family member living far away who has a desire to live closer to you, but can’t. You can look at purchasing a property for them with the minimum downpayment and get the family back together again. Do you have a family member who wants to move back to Canada? Some have parents within Canada, who want to be closer to you and their grandchildren. They could also be moving here to gain care from family members.  Is this a program for you and your family?

With as little as 5% down on the first $500,000 and 10% on the balance, a mortgage for a second home can be achieved.  Applicants are required to qualify for the mortgage without rental income on the new property.  The property has to be for your own, or a close family member’s, use.  This is not the program for a rental purchase.  


For clients in any of these categories, Kevin, Jason and Blaire would be happy to explore options.  Call 250-753-2242 or email: 






“The wise young man or wage earner of today invests his money in real estate.” -Andrew Carnegie

Death. There, I Said it.

Death. There, I said it.


Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things a person can face. Being left to navigate the estate process can be daunting.  However, with prudent planning, the people left behind can grieve their loss and support the wishes of their loved one.  Make a plan for those you’ll leave behind–it will give you and your loved ones peace of mind.

It’s never too early (or late) to plan for the unexpected.  Read our tips for simplifying the lives of your loved ones upon your passing.  


Update Beneficiaries


Beneficiaries can be selected on registered investment plans including: Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP), Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA), Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF).   Review your investment plans with your financial advisor to ensure the beneficiary is still relevant. Your life insurance policy is an important part of estate planning.  Review your life insurance beneficiary with your life insurance provider to ensure it is up to date.  Undergoing a major life event should be a que to review your beneficiaries.


Meet with a Professional


Enlist the help of an estate planning professional.  Financial Planners, Lawyers or Notaries are all professionals who can assist in this process.  They can help you consider your estate plan from all angles to best protect and provide for your beneficiaries. When you are making your plan, be clear and direct with your wishes to your estate planner.

Never assume that one partner will “go first”.  Never assume that your partner, or children know your wishes.  Making assumptions adds pressure to your family after your passing, and can create tensions amongst remaining family members. 


Confirm Title of your Home


If you own property, it’s especially important to fully understand the differences in ownership options.  Real Estate is often a cornerstone of an estate, call your lawyer to go over the ownership options in full detail; know the differences and decide on the best fit.  There are two ways that co-owners can be registered on title, each has different implications for the surviving owner.  


Joint Tenants: When one owner passes away, the survivor automatically gets the deceased’s portion.  


Tenants in Common: the interest of a deceased owner gets transferred to its beneficiaries in accordance with that person’s will. 

All too often the conversation regarding finances and death are avoided, and there’s no wonder why.  If you’re married or in a common-law relationship, you and your spouse need to have the “what if” conversation.  As a parent, determine how your children will be taken care of after you pass.  If you have adult children who will handle your estate, make sure they have an understanding of your financial situation. 

Indicate the following: where your bank accounts are held, what your financial assets are, the details of your mortgage, if you own your home free & clear, what the ownership structure of your property is.  If you are deferring your property taxes or not, and tell them where your will is located.  The more your loved ones know about how you want your estate to be disbursed the easier it will be for the surviving family members. 


None of these tips are staggering, but the value of understanding the information truly is!  The Rule of 7 says it takes hearing something 7 times for it to really hit home. By taking the time to read this article, you can add another ‘check mark’ toward creating an estate plan. For more estate planning information check out the links below.   







 photo credit:https://www.karphotography.net

Self Employed Options for Mortgage Financing

Self Employed: Mortgages

Woman working hard at her business

Business Owner? There are options for mortgage financing.

Being self-employed has many advantages, like setting your own schedule and being your own boss.  You also have the advantage to write off items to decrease your taxable income.  This is great when it comes time to pay the Government, but can create challenges when you are planning on borrowing.  There is a major advantage to working with a broker who is well versed in Business for Self (BFS) programs available.

The Gold Standard for Self-Employed

The most universal method to calculating self-employed individuals income is by taking a 2 year average.  To achieve ideal interest rates, a 2-year average of your NET income is used.  That means your gross income is not the amount being used to calculate your capacity for a mortgage.  All write-offs and deductions are used to calculate your Net Income.  If your Net income has been declining, the lower amount is used for qualification purposes.  In an ideal world, real estate transactions would be planned a few years in advance–allowing for pre-planning with your accountant.

Traditional Lending – New to BFS

There are programs available through traditional lenders for clients who have less than 2 years self-employed.  The requirements include having to have worked in the same industry as before they became self-employed.  The client needs to be able to show that they have a history in the industry to qualify for this program.

Subprime Lenders

Subprime lenders offer solutions to a variety of BFS individuals.  Clients could be new to their industry, or well established but their past years net income isn’t an accurate reflection of current income.  Regardless, there are Subprime lenders who might be able to help.  Subprime lenders will complete a review of your business bank statements for the past 6-12 months. Lenders review deposits and deduct expenses to arrive at an income amount that will be used for qualification.  Having flexibility in income qualification does come with additional costs.  Interest rates are generally 1-2% higher than a traditional lender, plus there is a lender fee.

Why use a Mortgage Broker

Mortgage Brokers have access to a variety of programs and options for self-employed individuals.  If you’re working with clients who are BFS it’s important they know what’s available.  Brokers have access to multiple programs and lenders, and can ensure that client’s buying power is at it’s full potential.  This gives the client an advantage; providing them with multiple possible solutions.

For more information please call Kevin, Jason or Blaire today 250-753-2242

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Reverse Mortgages: Debunked


Reverse mortgages have had a bit of a bad rap.  Here’s some of the stigmas they hold, and why they have their place as a financial tool, especially in today’s market!


Interest rates are up and cost of living is high.  Everyone is working their budget–trying to pay for life, whatever that looks like for them..  While we are all feeling the pinch of the purse strings, seniors with limited income are even more at risk of falling behind.  


Myths of the reverse mortgage:

  1. The interest rates are too high.  


Historically this may have held more weight, but now reverse mortgage interest rates are lower than a Home Equity Line of Credit.


  1. You can’t buy a house with a reverse mortgage.

You can!  If the age requirements of the borrower are met and the home you are buying has the equity (ie. you are putting down at least 45% of the purchase price) a reverse mortgage could be an option.


  1. A Reverse mortgage is a bad financial decision.


Yes, you are utilizing the equity in your home therefore you won’t have as much money when you sell.  The interest on the mortgage will accumulate, and is payable if/when you sell your home. For people who would otherwise have to sell their home, it makes sense to remain in your home instead of losing it altogether. Especially if you were going to be renting once you sold. 


  1. Reverse mortgages are too expensive.  


The set up costs are comparable to a regular mortgage, around $1000-$2000. There is no monthly payment obligation. This frees up what could be a large portion of monthly income. The borrower’s can enjoy a better quality of life, with less financial stress, which is well deserved especially later in life.


  1. You can’t make any lump sum payments.


There are reverse mortgage products that allow you to make lump sum payments against the principal.


If you or someone you know has questions about reverse mortgages, Kevin, Jason and Blaire are ready to help call the office now 250-753-2242.

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Mid-Island Mortgage & Savings Ltd. & the Christmas Angels…

Why Budget?

Everyone knows, the cost of living has increased.  Going to the grocery store, the gas pump, or a trip or to the movies all costs more. While there isn’t much that can be done about that in the short term, what is in everyone’s control?  Budgeting.  Work with what you have to help make your finances align with your goals.  You do not have to break the bank this Christmas.  Read through some of our budget tips on how to live within your means. 

Why is it important to set a budget? Spending can get out of control to the point where you may not even know where your money is going.  You may not have any savings plan in place.  Do you want to start saving for a down payment on a house, or to complete some renovations?  Maybe you’re noticing your credit card bills getting out of hand.  The Christmas season puts added pressure on bank accounts, but it doesn’t have to.  Now is the time to pay more attention to your bank account and spending habits.

By creating a budget you can save money, pay down debts, reduce your stress, have more control and have money to do the things that are truly important to you.  Who doesn’t want to live within their means?  

Budget Tips:

Create a Budget

The sooner you create a budget the sooner you can start improving your finances.  Look at your net monthly income, account for expenses are mandatory, and identify any leaks where money seems to be slipping away.  

Free Monthly Budget Tool 

Christmas spending limit

Do not go overboard with gift buying this year.  Get together with family to change how you do things, have a draw for family or friends so you only have to buy for one person.  Rather than an expensive gift exchange, make homemade gifts or do a whacky $10 gift exchange.  Don’t give into pressures of the season, it’s more important to be true to your values than to get the biggest best gift.  Remember what’s truly important to you when it comes to the holidays and focus on that.

Multiple Accounts

Have multiple bank accounts-ensuring that you have a designated spending account will act as your allowance for any discretionary items.  Allocating another account where payments come out on a regular basis means you can set it and forget it. Once you’ve determined how much is going out of that account each month, you know how much to put in and subsequently you can alleviate stress.  It goes without saying, one of these accounts needs to be for Christmas if you intend to spend money around the holidays.

Automatic Transfers

Set an amount that will transfer to your savings each payday.  This can be as low as $25 to get you started and in the habit of saving.  If you have a goal you are saving towards, work backwards. Figure out when you need the money, divide it by how many pay cheques you have until then, and set up your transfer for that amount.  Then when that trip to Mexico comes up, or your hot water tank goes, you’ll have the funds on hand. This will once again reduce stress. 

Emergency Savings

It’s said to have at least 3-6 months worth of expenses in a savings account. For those who aren’t already savers by nature, that can be a daunting number.  Especially when the cost of living has risen so significantly, and ‘extra’ money may seem like a pipe dream.  Start by saving $500 to $1000 as quickly as you can. This can sit in a savings account that is accessible, and can assist in a true emergency should it arise. This could help reduce anxiety if something comes up, and mean you won’t have to rely on credit as heavily.


Give yourself an allowance-really!  Once you have all your monthly expenses set, you know what you’ll be able to put into savings. Provide yourself an amount that can be used for your discretionary spending, could be going to the movies, dinner’s out, or grabbing a fancy coffee.  Don’t make your budget so strict that there isn’t any fun.

Getting Help

Creating a budget is a really great starting point– but getting the help of a professional is a good idea.  A mortgage professional can review your mortgage and other expenses to see if they can help you save money.  Don’t have a mortgage? They can also help get you on the path to home ownership by helping to determine what steps you need to take.    


Free Monthly Budget Tool



Subprime vs Traditional Lending


Coming from a traditional lending background, I’ve often thought of mortgage lending as a puzzle. In order to help the client, every single piece is necessary to get them what they need.  Credit has to be solid, the income both consistent and sufficient, the security (house) had to be in a good location in a decent condition.  All this is required. Without every piece in place, the puzzle just wont work!  The thing is–people’s lives can be complicated, messy even. Puzzle pieces go missing, and some don’t QUITE fit.  

Traditional Lending

Lets explain; Banks, Credit Union’s, and Monoline Lenders (companies regulated by the bank act who offer single products, in this case mortgages) all have to adhere to specific rules set by the Government.  Within those rules, the companies themselves can work with their board, risk management and shareholders to ensure that their best practices are within those rules.  They may decide to assume more risk in one area but less in another. Offering products or programs that target specific audiences. Acting within the letter of the law and their internal policies and practices.  For the most part, doing the same puzzle, with the same pieces.  


Subprime, or “B” Lenders, do not have to adhere to the same rules as big banks.  Privately owned, operated and regulated they offer their own unique pieces to the puzzle.  These lenders offer assistance to borrowers who aren’t a fit for the major lenders, so credit issues, self-employment or lack of sufficient income fits for them.  They have more flexibility in how they lend and who they lend to. 

Of course, guidelines are still in place, they merely have more of a landing pad for the “unbankable”.  Anytime a lender is taking on higher risk mortgages, there is a premium for that, and with subprime lenders it translates to higher interest rates than other lenders, and sometimes lender fees.  It would be easy for a person to sit back and form opinions based on the idea that they are charging what they are. Some might say that the people seeking money from these companies “shouldn’t even be borrowing”.

Self Employed

For our self-employed clients, the general rule of thumb is that lenders want to see the last two year’s income tax returns (T1 Generals).  For a self-employed individual, this may not be the most current and accurate version of their finances.  Subprime lenders offer Business for Self programs such as stated income that require the last 6 months of business bank statements to support the cash flowing into the company.

Credit Issues

If you go bankrupt or file a consumer proposal you’ll generally be waiting 2 years from your date of discharge in order to be a candidate for a mortgage at a bank or Credit Union.  With subprime lenders, they consider you right away.  Their minimum credit requirements are significantly lower.  Many people may think that once their mortgage is placed with a Subprime lender that they’re going to be with them forever. This is not true.  Often clients will work with their Mortgage Broker to make a plan to make their way back to an A lender.  This could mean a variety of things. A hyper focus on paying bills on time, to earning additional income.  Whatever it may be, you won’t be alone, our Brokers will work with you to set a plan and will continue to check in to help keep you on track.


There tends to be a real stigma out there about the Subprime lending world. In a situation where you may lose the house because of lack of income, an illness, a bad relationship or business venture that left you in a tough spot–There are options for you.  Of course the ideal lending situation is to be able to have a mortgage through a major bank, or monoline company. The interest rates will be less and there will be less fees.  No one is disputing that. 

However, in my decade and a half in the finance world to confidently say that there are many of us who “do not make the mark” set by banks.  I feel fortunate to be able to offer people solutions that fit their situation, to meet them where they are.  In many cases the solutions will help them maintain or improve their housing situation, and help their financial situation.

Being a mortgage underwriter at a traditional financial institution for many years, my experience with lending was limited to our own products and services. Helping people to have access to the Subprime lenders gives me the ability to help people work with what they have.  Putting their puzzles together in a way that works for them! 

I am grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to offer mortgage and financing solutions for our clients.  Interested in learning more, or have questions about your own ability to qualify for a mortgage please call or email us.  If you’re buying, renewing, refinancing we would be more than happy to help work with you to figure out your options.

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