Nova Scotia man whose Victoria hotel room was destroyed by seagulls allowed to return after 17-year ban

N.S. man’s lifetime ban lifted at Empress Hotel in Victoria
A Nova Scotia man has finally had his lifetime ban from Victoria's Empress Hotel lifted. It was the result of an incident 17 years ago involving pepperoni and a flock of seagulls. Kristen Robinson explains.

A Nova Scotia man is once again allowed to stay at Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel after a hilarious story involving a flock of seagulls and pepperoni got him banned from the establishment 17 years ago.

Nick Burchill posted the story on Facebook and it has since gone viral.

He says in 2001, his employer was hosting a conference at the hotel. Burchill was also in the Canadian Naval Reserve and when he told his Navy friends he was coming out west, they asked him to bring some Brother’s Pepperoni, a local delicacy, from Halifax.

He filled a suitcase with pepperoni, but the airline misplaced the bag.

It was delivered to the Empress the next day and Burchill decided to keep the pepperoni cool.

“I knew that the pepperoni would still be ‘good,'” writes Burchill. “It had only been at room temperature for a short time. It would, however, be quite some time before I could turn it over to my friends.”

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The Fairmont Empress Hotel at the Inner Harbour in downtown Victoria, B.C. (Deddeda Stemler/Canadian Press)
The Fairmont Empress Hotel at the Inner Harbour in downtown Victoria, B.C. (Deddeda Stemler/Canadian Press). THE CANADIAN PRESS - Deddeda Stemler

His room, which faced the harbour, did not have a refrigerator, so Burchill decided to open the window as it was a chilly April day.

“I lifted one of the sashes and spread the packages of pepperoni out on the table and windowsill,” he writes. “Then, I went for a walk — for about 4 or 5 hours.”

When he returned, he arrived only to find an entire flock of seagulls in his room. He thinks there may have been nearly 40 of the birds gleefully eating the pepperoni.

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“In case you were wondering, Brothers’ TNT Pepperoni does NASTY things to a seagull’s digestive system,” Burchill wrote.

“As you would expect, the room was covered in seagull crap. What I did not realize until then was that seagulls also drool — especially when they eat pepperoni.

“I’m sure you have an image in your head. Now remember that I have just walked into the room and startled all of these birds. They immediately started flying around and crashing into things as they desperately tried to leave the room through the small opening by which they had entered.”

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Burchill says seagulls were crashing into the closed windows in an attempt to leave.

“The result was a tornado of seagull excrement, feathers, pepperoni chunks and fairly large birds whipping around the room. The lamps were falling. The curtains were trashed. The coffee tray was just disgusting.”

Finally, Burchill managed to open the windows and while most of the seagulls left immediately, one tried to re-enter to grab another piece of pepperoni.

Burchill was so agitated he took off his shoe and threw it at the bird. Both went out the window.

One large seagull remained in the room and it did not want to leave.

“In a moment of clarity, I grabbed a bath towel and jumped it,” Burchill wrote. “It started to freak out, so I wrapped it in the towel and threw it out of the window. I had forgotten that seagulls cannot fly when they are wrapped in a towel.”

The seagull was unharmed, but a group of tourists were very surprised when first a shoe, and then a wrapped-up seagull, came hurtling out the window.

When Burchill looked back at his room, there was a lot of damage.

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He only had a few minutes before an important company dinner, so he went to retrieve his shoe, which was covered in mud.

“The shoe was a mess,” he says. “I took it back to the room. By this time, I had close the windows and the air was becoming quite ripe with the smell of digested pepperoni and fish.”

He rinsed the mud off the shoe in the washroom but was now left with one wet shoe and one dry shoe.

So he tried to dry the wet shoe with the hairdryer when the phone rang. As Burchill went into the room to answer it, the power went off.

It turned out that the hairdryer, which he had left on to dry the shoe, had fallen into the sink full of water and caused the outage.

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“I don’t know how much of the hotel’s power I knocked out, but at that point I decided I needed help,” Burchill said.

He called the front desk and they sent someone to help.

“I can still remember the look on the lady’s face when she opened the door,” he writes. “I had absolutely no idea what to tell her, so I just said, ‘I’m sorry’ and I went to dinner. When I came back, my things had been moved to a much smaller room.”

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He thought that was the end of it, but his company received a letter banning him from staying at the Empress.

In his Facebook letter, Burchill writes to the Empress: “I have matured and I admit responsibility for my actions. I come to you, hat in hand, to apologize for the damage I had indirectly come to cause, and to ask you reconsider my lifetime ban from the property.”

“I hope that you will see fit to either grant me a pardon, or consider my 18 years away from the Empress as ‘time served.'”

Staff at the Fairmont Empress confirmed to Global News that the hotel’s rooms division director, Ryan Reardon, did inform Burchill verbally that he will once again be welcome as a guest.

They also said Burchill sent them a package of Brother’s Pepperoni as a peace offering.

Global News reached out to Burchill but had not received a response by publishing time.