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‘He was a gift’: Greater Victoria mourns loss of popular balloon, magic man

Paul Kilshaw is a familiar face after entertaining crowds for more than 30 years
Greater Victoria mourns the loss of longtime entertainer Paul Kilshaw, a mainstay at community events for decades. ( Magic and More/Facebook)

Greater Victoria lost a little magic with the death of popular entertainer Paul Kilshaw on April 19.

A familiar face with a fandom at any event he attended – pretty much all of them whether he was working or not – Kilshaw wowed Greater Victoria crowds for more than three decades

“We lost a great man. He was a gift,” said friend Kelly Kurta, also the executive director of the Greater Victoria Festival Society. “Paul was an in-person kind of guy. He’d show up at an event even just to say hello.”

Kilshaw caught the magic bug as a child and spent years honing the craft, travelling far and wide to study with the masters in this art.

Fondly called Paulie, Kilshaw was known for magic and balloons and was always looking for some new twist.

Last Christmas, it was candy cane balloons for Wicked Victoria. For recent St. Patrick’s Day festivities, he created a unicorn. He contacted Kurta consistently with new discoveries to improve the festival scene.

READ ALSO: Balloon man shares his favoured moments of the annual Oak Bay Light Up

“He just wanted to connect people. He wanted to help everyone succeed,” Kurta said.

The only time he missed events was while focusing on recovery after heart surgery in 2019.

“He was so careful, so mindful of his recovery he wanted to come back 100 per cent,” Kurta said.

Kilshaw once told the Oak Bay News he held space for the annual Christmas light up in Oak Bay.

“I work around it. I will never take another booking when I know that’s the one that’s my priority. I like being known as the Oak Bay magician-in-residence,” Kilshaw said, ahead of the 2016 event. “It’s a great crowd. So many kids come out and I’m familiar with 90 per cent of everybody there.”

Kurta said the people knew him too – Kilshaw had a following.

“You were really lucky if you knew Paul. You were just really lucky.”

While the team is still reeling from the heartbreaking news, Kurta said the festival society plans to dedicate this year’s Victoria Day One World Celebration to their friends and compatriot.

“The saying salt of the earth … it lives and speaks to who Paul was as a human being. He lit up a room. He would do anything for the community. He was a a gift to our city,” Kurta said.

“He was magical, he had the best hugs and the kindest words.”


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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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