Friday, 25 February 2011

Melville's King George Hotel: Royal Heritage

King George Hotel, c. 1940. Source
Originally named the Windsor Hotel, the King George Hotel in Melville was built in 1909 by J. N. (Joseph Napoleon?) Pomerleau. The 1916 Canada Census shows that Joseph Pomerleau, age 22, and Antoinette Pomerleau, age 20,(both single) were managing the hotel on Main Street.  Twenty-four other people were living at the King George that year, including the cook Won Yee, two waitresses, and two servants. Most of the hotel guests were railway workers.

The hotel's name was changed after the Royal Visit of 1939. That year, over 60,000 people thronged to Melville, population 3,000, to catch a glimpse of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The visit was to be a ten-minute whistle-stop, but in view of the magnitude of the crowd, organizers agreed to stop for half an hour. 


Crowd waiting for the Royal Couple, CN station, Melville, 1939.
http://www.melvilleadvance.com/CN_Station_Restoration/CN_Station_Restoration.html

By 2006, the three-storey hotel on Main Street had been through many upgrades and renovations. Stucco had been applied over the brick exterior. The 212-seat Windsor Tavern on the hotel’s main floor was open seven days a week. It had six video lottery terminals (VLTs), a dance floor, a DJ booth, a big screen TV and a Bose sound system valued at over $20,000. The tavern featured occasional live entertainment, and weekly specials such as “Sunday nine-ball tournaments, Wednesday Night Slow-Pitch BBQ in the beer patio, Friday Night "wing night" with tricycle races and more!” Ten guest rooms on the second floor, two of which were suites, had been modernized with full bathrooms, new windows and air conditioning. The hotel’s third floor had not been renovated in 2006.


The King George Hotel, Melville, 2006.  Joan Champ photo

The kitchen of the King George Hotel, Melville, 2006.
On February 17, 2010, the King George Hotel was destroyed by a suspicious fire that started in the kitchen. Sam Pervez, who had purchased the hotel only a few weeks before, intended to do more renovations to the 100-year-old building. A resident and former owner of the historic King George Hotel pleaded guilty to setting the fire. “I didn’t like the way things happened there,” the 63-year-old Roland St. Amand told the court. Several hundred people gathered to watch the firefighters battle the blaze. One of the on-lookers shot this video:  


Watch more video of Melville's main street before the hotel fire, August 2008: YouTube link


© Joan Champ, 2011

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3 comments:

  1. Good story, Joan.

    RB

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  2. We are losing our percious heritage hotels at an alarming rate all across Canada. I have listed over 100 historic hotels lost since 1860 in British Columbia and the list is far from complete. All this great history and beauty burned to a cinder, what a shame. Thank-you for keeping the old hotels alive through your research and writings.

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  3. Thanks for your comments, Glen.

    ReplyDelete