Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Hotel at Radisson: A Family Business

The Zimmerman Hotel, conveniently located across the street from the railway station, 1905. Western Development Museum photo, 3-A-35
I enjoyed my "research junket" to the Radisson Hotel in May 2006 -- especially the refreshments in the bar!  I phoned ahead and the owners offered to give me a tour -- which they did -- from the stone-foundation basement to the guest rooms on the second floor. Unfortunately, the third floor was closed off and inaccessible. 

Radisson’s first and only hotel was built in 1905 on the corner of Railway Avenue and Main Street by Joseph and Ella Zimmerman. The couple had previous hotel experience. In 1901, Joseph worked as a bartender in Indian Head, Northwest Territories (now Saskatchewan).  When the village of Radisson was founded in 1905 - the year the railroad arrived - the Zimmermans saw an opportunity. They moved their young and growing family to the town, located on Highway 16 between Saskatoon and North Battleford, and built the hotel. First called the Zimmerman Hotel, the hotel’s name changed to the Queen’s Hotel in 1906. 

Zimmerman Hotel, c 1912 Source

The original plans called for a two-storey building, however a third storey was added.  It had a full and very solid stone basement. By 1911, the Zimmerman’s five children between the ages of 5 and 10 must have enjoyed living in the spacious hotel, with its large lobby on the main floor. On the second floor, hotel guests gathered in the parlour to enjoy the piano and the library, which was stocked with books donated by local residents. Thomas Craig, the hotel manager, set up a “sample room” for commercial travelers to display their wares to local business owners.   

The Queen’s Hotel bar prior to 1915.  From Reflections of Radisson, 1982
In 1915, Prohibition hit Saskatchewan, and the bar of the hotel was closed and converted for use by the provincial police. The beer cooler in the present-day hotel was once used as the town jail.   

In 1922, the Zimmerman family sold the hotel to Tom Weeden. Several other owners followed.  Walter and Sylvia Bronsch, who owned the Radisson Hotel from 1953 to 1968, made major renovations to the building, including the installation of water and sewer lines. At some point in the hotel’s history, the third storey was sealed off – probably to save on heating bills. In about 1965, mixed drinking was allowed in the hotel bar. To accommodate female patrons, the owners had the beverage room completely redesigned in a 1960s motif, calling it the Shadow Room.  There is a photograph of the Shadow Room hanging in the bar.

The Radisson Hotel Today

Radissson Hotel, May 2006.  Joan Champ photo
Joan Champ photo
In May 2006, the Radisson Hotel was put up for sale once again. Of the fourteen guest rooms on the second floor, five had been renovated and were available for accommodation. There were sinks in each room and guests had to share one of two bathrooms, one with a shower and toilet, and the other with a tub and toilet.  

The main floor of the Radisson Hotel featured a beverage room and the two-bedroom living quarters for the hotel operator. The bar, with a 57-seat capacity, had a rustic, western-style decor. Three VLTs were located in a separate room off the beverage room. Entertainment in the bar included arcade games, Foos Ball, a juke box, a billiard table, a karaoke machine, and two television sets with satellite service.  
The beverage room at the Radisson Hotel, May 2006.  Joan Champ photo
© Joan Champ, 2011

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting photos and stories.