Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Magician Paul Kilshaw, who performed for royals, dies at 60

Popular entertainer died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack, his sister says
Paul Kilshaw created balloon animals for Princess Charlotte and Prince George during the Royals' visit to Victoria in 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/POOL-Chris Wattie

A Victoria entertainer and magician who once performed for the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children has died at 60.

Paul Kilshaw spent decades busking and creating balloon animals on the streets of Greater Victoria, and performing magic on the sidelines of Victoria public events. He was the resident magician at the Oak Bay Village Night Market for a time.

Kilshaw died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack, his sister Catherine Dempsey said from her home in Newfoundland.

He was born on Aug. 4, 1962, in Grostenquin, France, where his father, who was in the air force, was stationed. The youngest of four, Kilshaw moved with his family to Ottawa then to Victoria when he was about six.

The family lived near Willows Beach and it was there that a young Kilshaw met a magician who started teaching him sleight of hand, Dempsey said.

“For the first few years, we sort of ignored him. You know, it was just a little boy doing stuff and then it kept on and the next thing we knew he was getting good,” Dempsey said.

Kilshaw worked at Tony’s Trick and Joke Shop, which has since closed, honing his craft.

He took on other jobs to pay the bills while making a name for himself busking downtown.

“It was what he lived for. It was what he lived and breathed. His hands were always working and he always had something in his pocket,” Dempsey said.

Groups started hiring him to perform. In September 2016, Kilshaw was invited to entertain William and Kate and their children at a children’s party at Government House during the royals’ visit to Victoria. The party was held for the children and families of military service members who had been deployed.

Prince George, then three, asked Kilshaw to twist balloons into a spider and a volcano, the entertainer told The Canadian Press at the time. Kilshaw made a teddy bear for Princess Charlotte, who was 16 months.

“I was so honoured and so thrilled,” Kilshaw said after meeting the royals.

Kilshaw had a way of ­making children feel comfortable, despite being a large man ­standing over six feet tall, and portly in his later years, ­Dempsey said.

He always looked on the bright side of life and wanted to make people around him feel happy, she said.

“That’s a very great gift. He was not a wealthy man, but I would say he was a very successful man,” Dempsey said.

Donald Dunphy, a magician and family entertainer, knew Kilshaw for about 35 years. They were both members of the Victoria Magic Circle and had worked together.

Dunphy said Kilshaw was always interested in mentoring up-and-coming magicians, sometimes running classes.

“He was very well known and very well liked by the other magicians because he was always out there to help other people,” Dunphy said.

Kilshaw is survived by his son, Christopher Kilshaw, sister Catherine Dempsey, brothers David and Peter Kilshaw and his mother, Peggy Little.

[email protected]

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: [email protected]