Artie Arsens, owner of Laurel Point Inn, dead at 94
Carla Wilson, Victoria Times Colonist
Published: Thursday, September 04, 2008
Artie Arsens has died at age 94 in her suite in the Laurel Point Inn, which she owned along with Paul's Motor Inn on Douglas Street, a company spokesman said.
"In the last little while, she was in declining health," said Ian Powell, managing director of Paul's Restaurant Ltd.
Arsens, third wife of well-known hotelier Paul Arsens, who died in 1997, was devoted to the Laurel Point, one of the few large independent hotels in Greater Victoria, Powell said. She worked with her husband in the business, taking a hands-on approach.
When health permitted, Artie Arsens toured the James Bay hotel regularly in her wheelchair to greet staff and guests. "The hotel was her family," he said. "She'd want to know what was going on and have her input."
The Laurel Point has recently gone through a $5-million upgrade, unveiled in June. When Arsens saw the renovated restaurant, "she looked at me and she said, 'Paul would be proud,' and that was worth a great deal to me," Powell said.
Arthura (Artie) Morrison was born and raised in Ladysmith, and worked for Paul Arsens prior to their marriage in the 1960s, he said.
Powell remembers her as a strong business person, with a "cheeky" sense of humour. "She was a matriarch."
The Asian and First Nations art in the hotel was collected by Artie and Paul Arsens, he said.
Island businessman Mel Cooper, who was the emcee at Artie Arsens' 90th birthday party, said the much of the hotel's eye-catching decor was her work.
He described Artie Arsens as feisty, with strong opinions and an interest in the environment. "She could be a little bit outspoken. She was an interesting person."
John Driedger and Artie Arsens became friends when he did electrical work on Paul's in the 1960s. "When I would go and visit her at Laurel Point, she never forgot to tell me to greet everyone at Paul's." Everyone meant staff and long-time regular customers like Driedger, who is there most mornings at 6 a.m.
A few years ago, Driedger fashioned a table at Paul's restaurant with photos of Arsens on the top, captioning them with the words: beauty, elegance, wisdom and wit.
I hear she was quite a character. She also apparently instructed in her will that the Laurel Point Inn remain an independent hotel, and will be run by a foundation. I think some of the profits will be returned to charity, but I could be mistaken about that.
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