Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Hotel Fires

The Franklin Hotel, Assiniboia, burned down on December 16, 2008.  Photo by Landon Ullrich
Another small-town Saskatchewan hotel went up in flames this past weekend. Carol MacCallum, the owner of the Choiceland hotel and bar, vows to rebuild the hotel. “This is a great town, these are great people” MacCallum told the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “They need a bar. The bar is a community centre.”

Many hotels that once commanded the corners of Railway and Main have burned to the ground over the years.  It didn’t take much – a live cinder drawn up the chimney by a strong wind and igniting the flat tar roof; the explosion of a coal oil stove – to set these rambling old wooden buildings ablaze.  

Queen’s Hotel fire, Macrorie, 1957.
From Jubilee Reminiscences:
A History of Macrorie (1957)

Hotel fires caused death and destruction. In 1912, the hotel in Antler, Saskatchewan, caught fire after an explosion of the gas works which provided the building’s light and heat. According to the town’s history book (1983), the guests in the front part of the hotel escaped unharmed, but it was a different story for staff members in the back of the building. “Two chambermaids were saved by the Chinese cook, who forcibly threw these two frightened girls over the hole, and they escaped unhurt. Dan Morrison, who was also in the back part, had his hair and face badly burnt. Fred Brown, a man of German descent, a carpenter and resident of the hotel, died in this event. He was found with his mattress still under him; evidently he died of smoke inhalation, never waking. They had held a birthday party for him the day before the fire.”

Aftermath of the Macoun Hotel explosion, 1914.
One of the most tragic hotel fires in Saskatchewan’s history occurred in Macoun on a windy April day in 1914. Thirteen people died and many were injured when an acetylene lighting plant in the hotel basement exploded. It was lunch time, and the hotel dining room was filled to capacity. The owner’s son smelled gas and decided to go down to the basement to investigate – with a lit cigar in his mouth. As soon as he opened the basement door, the place exploded. The entire building was thrown about thirty feet in the air, and then crashed back down. The young man with the cigar survived with only a few bruises, singed hair and eyebrows. Everyone else caught in the conflagration – save two – perished in the fire, or died later as a result of their injuries. 

Maple Leaf Hotel fire, Lumsden, 1909 Source
In the early days, few of Saskatchewan’s small towns had the means to extinguish the flames of a big fire. A disastrous hotel fire prompted many a town council to buy firefighting equipment. Other town passed bylaws mandating the construction of firewalls between adjacent buildings.  Roofs had to be made of incombustible materials. The front verandas and covered balconies that once graced most old hotels had to be removed as they added to the fire hazard. In 1933, the town of Radville passed a bylaw forcing every hotel to provide fire escapes, signs leading to theses escapes, fire extinguishers on each floor, and a rope for each guest room. The minute book of the town of Webb records Hotel Bylaw No. 19: “Every public hotel shall be provided with one cotton rope at least three-quarter inch in diameter to be firmly fastened at least two feet above the windowsill in each bedroom.”

Firefighting demonstration, Comstock Hotel, Halbrite, n.d.
Plowshares to Pumpjacks (1984)
Not everyone was sad to see the town hotel burn down.  When the women of Clavet heard that the hotel was on fire in 1915 - the year Prohibition was introduced in Saskatchewan, it is reported they said, "Hell is burning." 

Small-Town Saskatchewan Hotels Destroyed by Fire (list in progress):
  1. Aberdeen: Aberdeen Hotel, March 3, 1997 
  2. Abernethy: King Edward Hotel, May 27, 1909 
  3. Aneroid: Aneroid Hotel, June 3, 1953 
  4. Antler: Antler Hotel, 1912 [started in the hotel gas works; several injured, one killed]
  5. Ardill: Ardill Hotel, October 1965
  6. Asquith: Asquith Hotel, October 24, 1911 [explosion; four injured] 
  7. Assiniboia: Franklin Hotel, December 16, 2008 
  8. Atwater: Atwater Hotel, 1927 
  9. Avonlea: King George Hotel, 1916 
  10. Balgonie: Balgonie Hotel, November 7, 1909 
  11. Beechy: Closes Hotel, December 1948 
  12. Bengough: Bengough Hotel, 1978 
  13. Biggar: Eden Hotel, July 13, 1982 
  14. Broadview: Broadview Hotel, Jan. 1956 [$100,000 fire; and café] 
  15. Brownlee: City Hotel, June 30, 1929 [smaller hotel built in its place] 
  16. Cadillac: Vendome Hotel, December 27, 1923 
  17. Cadillac: Cadillac Hotel, 1946 [rebuilt] 
  18. Carnduff: Clarendon/Queen’s Hotel, 1921 or 1924 
  19. Carrot River: Carrot River Hotel (Derniuk’s), 1933 
  20. Ceylon: Ceylon Hotel, December 25, 1911 
  21. Chamberlain: Chamberlain Hotel, June 21, 1942 
  22. Chaplin: Chaplin Hotel, September 1933
  23. Chaplin: Chaplin Hotel, October 1956 [$80,000 damage] 
  24. Choiceland: Choiceland Hotel, Feb. 19, 2011 
  25. Clavet: French Hotel, 1915 
  26. Craik: Craik Hotel, January 31, 2003 
  27. Craven: Iroquois Hotel, 1908 
  28. Craven: Empress Hotel, 1961 
  29. Cudworth: Cudworth Hotel 1973 
  30. Debden: Debden Hotel, 1926 
  31. Debden: Debden Hotel, early 1930s 
  32. Debden: Debden Hotel, early 1960s
  33. Delmas: Delmas Hotel, 1912 [at least one person killed] 
  34. Disley: Disley Hotel, July 1954 
  35. Earl Grey: Hotel Grey, 1924 
  36. Eastend: Cypress Hotel, March 1916; rebuilt 
  37. Eldersley: White (Tice) Hotel, December 1927 
  38. Elfros:  Tequilas Hotel, October 9, 2014
  39. Elrose: Elrose Hotel, September 12, 1993 
  40. Elstow: Elstow Hotel, 1916 or 1918 [two people killed] 
  41. Estevan: Estevan Hotel, Feb. 27, 1936 [hospital also destroyed] 
  42. Fairlight: Fairlight Hotel, 1978 
  43. Fielding: Fielding Hotel, July 22, 1922 
  44. Fiske: Fiske Hotel, May 27, 1919 
  45. Flaxcombe: Silver Hotel, January 26, 1929 
  46. Fort Qu’Appelle: Fort Hotel, Feb. 1974 [$250,000 damage]
  47. Gainsborough: Queen’s Hotel, between 1900-1905 
  48. Garrick: Garrick Hotel, March 1988
  49. Glen Ewen: Glen Ewen Hotel, 2007 
  50. Goodeve: Goodeve Hotel, January 19, 1982
  51. Govan: Silver Plate Hotel, 1960 
  52. Govan: Govan Hotel damaged, February 1978 
  53. Gravelbourg: Cecil Hotel, August 12, 1926 
  54. Gravelbourg:  King's Hotel, May 1972 
  55. Grenfell:  King’s Hotel, 1927 
  56. Gull Lake: Lakeview Hotel, June 12, 1921 
  57. Harris: Commercial Hotel, 1924 
  58. Hazel Dell: Hazel Dell Hotel, October 2, 1978 
  59. Herbert: Commercial Hotel, 1918 
  60. Herschel: Herschel Hotel, December 25, 1979 
  61. Hoey: Hoey Hotel, 2004 
  62. Hudson Bay:  Etoimamie Hotel, 1935 
  63. Hudson Bay: Red Deer Motor Hotel, February 1979 
  64. Humboldt: Humboldt Hotel, 1923 
  65. Indian Head: McIntosh Hotel, early 1890s 
  66. Indian Head: Indian Head Hotel, 1993 
  67. Ituna: Carlton Hotel, 1925
  68. Jasmin: Jasmin Hotel, 1920 
  69. Kandahar: Lakeview Hotel, 1925 or 1926 
  70. Kelliher: Grand Trunk Hotel, December 22, 1931
  71. Kinistino:  Kinistino Hotel, March 1950 [two killed] 
  72. Kuroki: Kuroki Hotel, April 30, 1922 [one man killed] 
  73. Laird:  Laird Hotel, August 1915
  74. LaflecheFlying Goose Inn, May 21, 2013 [formerly Hotel Metropole, built in 1913]
  75. Lampman: Lampman Hotel, January 24, 1932 
  76. Lancer: Lancer Hotel, 1958
  77. Lanigan: Lanigan Hotel, October 25, 1958
  78. Laura: Laura Hotel, November 1, 1966 
  79. Leask: Hotel Windsor , Feb. 9, 2011 [arson suspected] 
  80. Lebret: Lebret Hotel, October 5, 1916 [and dance pavilion] 
  81. Lebret:  Lebret Hotel, September 6, 1927 
  82. Limerick: Dickenson Hotel, early 1920
  83. Lockwood: Lockwood Hotel, March 9, 1951 
  84. Loverna: Vernon Hotel, 1960s 
  85. Lumsden: Maple Leaf Hotel, February 23, 1909 (see photo above)
  86. Lumsden: Lumsden Hotel, Sept. 1977 [caused by smoking; people killed] 
  87. Lumsden: Lumsden Hotel, Nov. 21, 1998 [damages in excess of $600,000] 
  88. Macleod: Commercial Hotel, July 13, 1891 
  89. Macoun:  Macoun Hotel, April 20, 1914 [13 people killed] 
  90. MacNutt: MacNutt Hotel, 1924; rebuilt 
  91. Macrorie: Queen’s Hotel, January 31, 1958 
  92. Manitou Beach: Manitou Beach Hotel, 1943 
  93. Manor: Manor Hotel, 1910 
  94. Margo: Margo Hotel, November 5, 1954
  95. Maryfield: Arlington Hotel, 1945; rebuilt 1946 
  96. McGee: Van Alstyne’s Hotel, 1915 
  97. Meath Park: Meath Park Hotel, October 22, 1995 [arson?] 
  98. Meota: King Edward Hotel, 192
  99. Melville: Killaly Hotel, November 11, 1981 
  100. Melville: King George Hotel, February 17, 2010 [arson]
  101. Milden: Milden Hotel, 1985 
  102. Milestone: Milestone Hotel, February 6, 1927 [15-year-old boy dead]
  103. Moosomin: Queen’s Hotel, 1905 
  104. Moosomin: Moosomin Hotel, Jan. 19, 1969 [one man dead, two missing] 
  105. Neilburg: Golden Oak Inn / Pitt's Bar & Grill, April 23, 2011
  106. Nipawin: Anderson Hotel, 1923 
  107. Nipawin: Nipawin Hotel, 1933 
  108. Nipawin: Park Hotel, May 17, 1979 
  109. Nokomis: Patricia Hotel, May 25, 1926
  110. Nut Mountain: Mountain House Hotel, November 22, 2006 
  111. Ogema: Little Amego Inn, April 20, 1958 
  112. Otthon: Otthon Hotel, March 1925 [$20,000 loss] 
  113. Oxbow: Palace Hotel, August 1907 [rebuilt as Alexandra Hotel] 
  114. Parkbeg: Temperance Hotel, August 1919 
  115. Parkside: Parkside Hotel, 1961 
  116. Paynton: Paynton Hotel, 1915
  117. Paynton: Leland Hotel, 1920 
  118. Penzance: Penzance Hotel, May 18, 1941 
  119. Piapot: Piapot Hotel, January 15, 1932 
  120. Plato: Rymal’s Hotel, 1919 
  121. Plenty: Plenty Hotel, 1981 [rebuilt by same owner]
  122. Ponteix: Windsor Hotel, 1929 
  123. Ponteix: Ponteix Hotel, June 26, 193
  124. Portreeve: Portreeve Hotel, February 1919 or 1920 
  125. Prelate: Prelate Hotel, August 10, 2009 
  126. Prud’homme: Flanders Hotel, 1957 [rebuilt the same year] 
  127. Punnichy: Glenrose Hotel, December 14, 1955 
  128. Qu'Appelle: Queen's Hotel, 2003
  129. Ravenscrag: Ravenscrag Hotel, 1954 
  130. Redvers: King’s Hotel, 1951 
  131. Riverhurst: Riverhurst Hotel, 1975 
  132. Rosthern: Klondike Hotel, 1906 
  133. Rosthern: Occidental/National Hotel, August  26,1928 
  134. Rosthern: Queen’s Hotel, 1961 
  135. Rush Lake: Rush Lake Hotel, October 5, 1926 
  136. Ruthilda: Boon’s Hotel, summer 1926 
  137. Shaunavon: Empress Hotel, December 17, 1914 
  138. Shell Lake: Shell Lake Hotel, 1956 
  139. Shellbrook: Former Tynen Hotel, January 18, 1943.
  140. Somme: Somme Hotel, 1943 
  141. Sonningdale: Sonningdale Hotel, March 19, 1995 [cooking oil to blame]
  142. Sovereign: Sovereign Hotel, 1915
  143. Spalding: Spalding Hotel, 1922 
  144. Speers: Speers Hotel, December 7, 1989 
  145. Spy Hill: Spy Hill Hotel, 1940 
  146. Stoughton: King Edward Hotel, February 1, 1905 
  147. Sturgis: Hotel Sturgis, March 1926 
  148. Swift Current: Empress Hotel, December 25, 1931 [$100,000 loss] 
  149. Tantallon: Tantallon Hotel, December 5, 193
  150. Tisdale: Imperial Hotel, February 7, 1933 [seven died in fire] 
  151. Turtleford: Glenhavon Hotel, February 1, 1922 
  152. Tway:  Tway Hotel, April 5,1996 
  153. Vidora: Vidora Hotel, Feb. 19, 1925 [also pool hall and a store; $14,000 loss] 
  154. Vonda: Vonda Hotel, 1924 
  155. Walpole: Walpole Hotel, 1923 or 1924 
  156. Wapella: Wapella Hotel, June 1890 [two arsonists convicted of setting fire] 
  157. Webb: [Weere’s] Hotel, January 1962
  158. Willow Bunch: European Hotel, November 11, 1959
  159. Willow Bunch: Hotel Manoir, Feb. 1995 [arson] 
  160. Wolseley: Windsor Hotel, 1905 
  161. Wolseley: Leland Hotel, October 5, 1923 
  162. Wynyard: Wynyard Hotel, March 6,1932 
  163. Yellow Grass: Yellow Grass Hotel, November 13, 1994 [arson]
  164. Young: Young Hotel, November 13, 2011

© Joan Champ, 2011


  1. Amazing list of hotel fires.


  2. Nipawin had four hotels burn down! I'm thinking of changing the masthead to read, "The fact that Saskatchewan’s tenacious old hotels still stand on the corners of Railway and Main is a testament to the fact that nobody has lit a match to them yet!"

  3. What year was the lastest Hotel Fire in Flaxcombe,Sask

  4. My only source for Flaxcombe is the local history book, Little Town in the Valley, published in 1984. The hotel was still standing at that date, owned by Herve and Judy Michaud. I haven't found any news stories about the second Flaxcombe hotel burning down. Do you have any information?

  5. Laird Hotel, Laird, Saskatchewan owned by Joseph Le Claire; burned August 1915. There are pictures of its interior and exterior in the local cafe (former Bank of Commerce building). The hotel had two floors of wrap-around balconies and a magnificient dining room.

  6. Thanks! I'll add Laird to the list of hotel fires. I don't have any research on the Laird Hotel - all I have is a photo taken of the existing hotel on a cloudy winter day in 2005.

    1. The Plenty Hotel burned down in 1981 owner B. Armstrong rebuilt in 1982 same owner .

  7. Joan, Thank you for a fascinating read on a what-is-chilly-to-us night in Athens, Georgia... it's 46 degrees F. outside!
    Wholeheartedly, Ort. Carlton.

    1. Glad you enjoyed reading my hotel blog! Do you have any connection to Saskatchewan?

    2. The Alexandra Hotel in Saskatoon, SK in 1967. It had been converted from a hotel to apartment buildings by then. VERY little on it. I was there and not only saw it, but my sister and her family were living there at the time. It was on Avenue F and 20the Street.

    3. Thanks, Sylvia. I had never heard of the Alexandra Hotel in Saskatoon. My blog does not include the city hotels - just the small-town ones. The list of hotels that have burned down would be much longer if I include the hotel fires in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, North Battleford, and Prince Albert.

  8. None whatsoever! But your stories of these places are fascinating. It makes a person want to come visit.

  9. Please do visit us -- summer is the best time!

  10. I think some dates are switched around in the Nipawin fires. The Park Hotel burned in 1979. I lived in Nipawin at the time.

  11. Thank you for this clarification. My notes were somewhat uncertain. I will change the date to 1979.

  12. We have a family history story of my wife's grandfather Stephen Allan Raymond who, along with his wife Margaret, ran a hotel at Indian Head from 1905 to around 1907-08. We have been told it then burned down leaving them almost destitute. they then left to homestead in Nokomis in 1908. There is no fire listed for Indian Head for those years or anywhere close by. Have you any thoughts on this info? Thanks for all your work.
    Robert Condon, Drumheller, Alberta

  13. In 1905 my wife's grandfather Stephen Alan Raymond and his wife Margaret moved to Indian Head and ran one of the hotels there. In 1907 or 1908 it burned down forcing them to leave for Nokomis to homestead. We cannot see this fire on the list and wonder if you know any more information.
    Thanks for your work,
    Robert Condon Drumheller, AB

  14. Hi Joan;

    I hate to add to this list, but the 1884 Queen's Hotel in Qu'Appelle also burned down (2003). It briefly accommodated General Middleton while he was en route to Batoche in 1885. A very similar hotel, also known as the Queen's and erected in the early 1880s, reportedly still stands in Battleford.

    Frank Korvemaker, Regina, Sask.

  15. Thanks for letting me know, Frank. I'll add this to my list. I haven't written anything yet about the hotels in Qu'Appelle, but hope to someday!

  16. Does anyone have a picture or information on the hotel in Duval, Saskatchewan 1930s, 1940s operated by J. Fleetwood and Emeline Pauling

  17. Didn't the Pontrilas Hotel near Nipawin burn down in late 90's?

    1. I'll see if I can find out and get back to you. Thanks for the tip!

    2. Yes, it did. We had sold it in 1971 to a couple and I can't remember their name. Marg and ??.

  18. What about the Francis Hotel in Midale Sk??

    1. The Frances Hotel in Midale Sask. burnt down November 8, 1987 at 3:45 am.

  19. No. 77 ... Lanigan Hotel in 1958. As a ten year old, it was the first fire I witnessed. Over the next year or two, the largest garage/service station, a grain elevator, and the town hall/library/firehall all burned to the ground. I witness all of them. It turned out that a foster child being taken care of by the volunteer fire chief was the arsonist.

  20. The Stoughton hotel burned down again in about 1975. Rebuilt in 1977.

    1. Two elderly men died in the fire, many jumped from windows to the street.

  21. What was your sorce to find the Milestone Hotel?

    1. The Regina Morning Leader: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=W0pTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=BTgNAAAAIBAJ&pg=1652,975673&dq=rouleau+hotel&hl=en "February 6th: One life was lost and two people were injured in a fire at the Milestone hotel owned by Frank Keys. About $45,000 in property damage was sustained. John Singleton, 15-year-old son of Dr. A H. Singleton of Rouleau was the victim of the fire. John was a member of the Rouleau hockey team, in Milestone for a game that afternoon. Members of the team were having a game of billiards in the hotel poolroom while they were waiting for their train to take them home to Rouleau. It is believe John made a rush to the stairs to get his things, which burst into flames as he ascended them. Oil, which had been used to sweep and clean the floors and linoleum added to the fury of the flames, the licked their way through the centre of the building, cutting off escape by the stairs. Keys was in Regina at a curling bonspiel at the time of the fire. Four people jumped from the windows, and Mrs. Keys, one of these, injured her shoulder. The hotel was a four-storey building with 42 guest rooms. A number of guests lost their belongings. The fire was discovered at about 7:30 Saturday night by the caretaker and poolroom keeper who went into the cellar and was met by a cloud of smoke when he opened the door. He gave the alarm and the crowd in the poolroom barely had time to get out of the place before being scorched. Dr. Singleton, when notified his son John was missing, came from Rouleau on a freight train and worked through the night in an effort to locate the body. The hotel was one of the best hotels on the Soo Line."

  22. What was your source for listing the Yellow Grass Hotel fire cause as arson?

  23. Joan thank you so much for the information on the milestone hotel fire! It seems the original link you located is no longer available.

    1. Ps if you're ever in our area, Milestone SK, we'd love to have you stop in and see the changes we've done to bring this old hotel bar and cafe back to life! We enjoy reading your blog after all you're keeping our history alive! 306-436-2200 ;)

    2. Thank you so much for the invitation, Krissy and Jordon. I would love to come for a visit and see what you've done to the hotel. I will call ahead. And thank you for your interest in my blog!

  24. Hello:

    Always interesting to read historical documents.

    Just a few items for accuracy. The hotel destroyed by fire in Gravelbourg in 1972 was called the King's Hotel. The hotel in Willow Bunch was called Hotel Manoir and it was set on fire in 1995, by the last owner Gerald Philippon.

    Paul Boisvert
    Gravelbourg, Sask.

    1. Thanks, Paul, for reading my blog. I have now made the changes you brought to my attention.

  25. Another hotel can be added to the list.

    The European Hotel in Willow Bunch burnt down on November 11, 1959. It was operated by Philippe and Mathilda Légaré (brother & sister).

    Paul Boisvert
    Gravelbourg, Sask.

  26. I wonder what happened to the little hotel that was in VICEROY, I can't find any info on it although it was listed in tourism hotel guide in 1971, did it too burn down?<>

    1. I'm sorry but I don't have any information on the Viceroy Hotel. :(

  27. In 1965 the Ardill Hotel Fire did not destroy the building but did some major damage to it as the Mossbank Fire Department needed to draw water from the North side of the rail line, a very infrequent and unexpected train came though and cut the water hoses. The Mossbank & District Museum has a newspaper clipping of Martin Silzer and Maurice McCoomb and Alfred Helland fighting the fire. That was likely a Moose Jaw Times paper.

  28. Hi Joan, this is a great site which I just discovered while looking up some information on Prohibition. I can add quite a few hotels that were destroyed by fire:

    1. Buchanan - this was probably late 80's or early 90's.
    2. Dubuc - fairly recent.
    3. Jedburgh - late 1980's.
    4. Marchwell - probably 1971. We had an old fellow who used to pull beer out of Marchwell for us underage lads. Beverage room was about the size of a large living room. Very small for a drinking establishment.
    5. Waldron - late 1990's or early 2000's.
    6. Yorkton - Balmoral Hotel. Early 1980's. Much has been written about this facility as it was once owned by the Bronfmans. They apparently ran a bootlegging operation out of there to the USA during Prohibition, however will barely acknowledge they owned the place let alone admit to anything illegal.

    Keep up the good work.

    Larry Off, Yorkton SK

  29. You may add Regina Beach to your list The hotel was either called The Pearly Shells Hotel or Regina Beach Hotel in 1981 burned down

  30. my grandfather's hotel in Wynyard Sk burned down in early 1900's. He passed in 1926 after moving to Wpg due to illness. He also owned a hardware store which burned down. Hotel fire picture was used for postcard. family name was Sveinson

  31. September 12, 1950 the hotel in Kayville, SK burned down with the other businesses beside it. It was owned by George Majeran at the time. He rebuilt it with brick the following year. It is still standing today.

  32. The hotel in Richmound burned down in the late 1950s

  33. After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each
    time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment.
    Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from
    that service? Appreciate it!

    1. Sorry, but I don't know how to remove you, especially as you are cited as "Anonymous" along with quite a few others. If you have any idea how I can remove you from my blog, I will be happy to accommodate your request.