Friday, 22 April 2011

Prelate Hotel Fire

Photo by Suzanne M. Howg. Image source

On the morning of August 10, 2009, the 97-year-old Prelate Hotel burned to the ground. The owner, Sherri Farrer, and her son were out of town at the time of the fire, and no one else was in the hotel. The Prelate volunteer fire department we unable to save the hotel, even with the help of fire crews from surrounding towns. “The wood was so dry and old it was like a can of gas,” said Prelate volunteer fire chief, Brad Goldade.

Prelate Hotel, June 2007.  Joan Champ photo

The three-storey Prelate Hotel was built in 1912. Its first owners were Guy and Mary Linderman. At least two of their children was born in the hotel. The 1916 Canada Census shows that the Lindermans were still running the hotel at Prelate. They had three children listed as living in the hotel, ages 9 to 16. Their fourth child, Marion, was born in the Prelate Hotel in 1915, but died a year later in 1916. A fifth daughter, Lillian was born in the hotel on September 1, 1916, a few weeks before Marion died. Four people lodging at the hotel in 1916, but no hotel staff is listed. Perhaps the business was slowing down due to Prohibition.

By 1918, the hotel was owned and operated by Charles Cohen. The Cohen family observed the traditional Jewish Sabbath, so Saturday was their day of rest. This must have been a bit of a challenge for Charles' son, Edward (Eddie) Cohen, who by 1935 was managing the hotel - complete with licensed bar.

Prelate, SK, c. 1955.  Prelate Hotel in foreground.  H. D. McPhail, photographer. Source

Detail of above photo. The third-floor windows were not yet blocked off.
In 1961, Ed Paul, the owner of the Prelate Hotel, requested a vote be taken by the town to allow mixed drinking. The vote carried, and for the first time women were permitted to drink in the beverage room of the Prelate Hotel. The hotel was then sold to Peter J. Kosolofski, who ran it for many years. Lloyd and Sandra Hassman owned the Prelate Hotel for about a year and a half in the mid-1970s. As can be seen in the comments below, the hotel - and the town of Prelate - did not hold happy memories for the Hassman children. Sheri was 7 and her brother 2 or 3 when they lived in the hotel. "I am not sorry to see this hotel burn down!" Sheri writes. "This hotel should have been torn down a long time ago. It was cold and dangerous. Especially with the cisterns in the basement. The third floor was closed off when we lived there." The Hassman's sold the business in 1975 or 1976 to Larry and Linda Steier who raised their sons in the hotel.  

Bar of the Prelate Hotel, c. 1995.

The bar at the Prelate Hotel was a popular spot. O’Neil Zuck recalls staying as a guest in the hotel one hot summer night in 1999. “It was an interesting experience," Zuck posted on Facebook. "My pregnant wife was not used to such accommodations and my 4-year-old daughter did not know what to think. The first thing we noticed was there was one common bathroom to share with everyone staying overnight in the hotel. The second thing was we had a room over the bar. We had to keep the window open as it was too hot in the room. It was a breezy Friday evening; the sign swung and squeaked until about 1:00 AM. When the bar closed about 1:00 AM the patrons moved their socializing outside underneath the once squeaky sign. So we listened to boisterous conversations. I think it was after sunrise that we finally fell into a nice restful sleep.” 

Prelate Hotel, June 2007.  Joan Champ photo

The Prelate Hotel was listed for sale in July 2005 by the owner, Sherri Farrer. The 1,800 square-foot living quarters and seven guest rooms were on the second floor. The 87-seat bar – which was the primary business source for the hotel – was on the main floor alongside a restaurant that was no longer in use. The third floor had been blocked off – its windows covered over by the stucco exterior.

By the time the members of the Prelate volunteer fire department got to the hotel on that August morning in 2009, all they could do was watch. There was so much smoke, they had a hard time even locating the blaze. The owner and her son lost all of their possessions.

Photo by Suzanne M. Howg. Image source

Photo by Suzanne M. Howg.  Image source
Photo by Suzanne M. Howg.  Image source

© Joan Champ 2011


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13 comments:

  1. Another interesting piece on this topic.. Interesting how the heat reveals the old third-floor window locations. A small observation: the Molson Dry poster indicates mid nineties..we know because we used to use those silk-screened labeled bottles for home brew in the nineties. Dry beers went out before the turn of the century..a very brief trend.

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  2. Yes, I noticed the 3rd floor windows emerging in the fire photos, too. A lot of these old hotels have closed off their 3rd floors to save on heating bills, but this is one of the few I've seen that covered the upper windows like that. Thanks for the tip on the photo date -- I've made the change.

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  3. I'm sorry for the current owner of the hotel to lose all of their belongings. I am not sorry to see this hotel burn down! Prelate and this hotel did not hold happy memories for my mom, brother and I. This hotel should have been torn down a long time ago. It was cold and dangerous. Especially with the cisterns in the basement.
    The third floor was closed off when we lived there. As a child the place was scary and the people were unfriendly, judgemental and prejudicial.

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    1. Thank you for your interesting comment. You have opened my eyes to what it must have been like to grow up in one of these old hotels. Did you and your brother have to help out with running the hotel (cleaning, etc.)? Lots to think about. Thanks again.

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  4. No. I was 7 and my brother would have been 2 or 3. The town was extremely unfriendly. I was publically humiliated not only by the Sisters at the school but also by Mrs. Rissling. I guess I should thank her for giving me the drive to never want to step in that town. I was brutally picked on by her sons. Purposely left out by baseball coaches. Parents not allowing their children to play with my brother and I. All because my parents owned the hotel and we were not catholic. Like I said the town does not hold happy memories. Funny thing, in the history noted above not one mention of my parents who owned the hotel. Just another example of how people in this town shape history to suit their needs.

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    1. That is so sad. I would be happy to include your parents in this hotel history, but as your identity is Anonymous, you may prefer that I don't.

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  5. My parents are Lloyd and Sandra Hassman. My name I Sheri Hassman. We lived in Prelate for 1 or 1.5 years. My mother , brother and I have not been back since we left Prelate I think it was 1975 or 76. My parents sold the hotel to Larry and his wife.

    It was a terrible and lonely time living in Prelate. Coming from a place where we were welcomed and having childhood friends to play with to being persecuted because we were considered outsiders by the church and townspeople.

    Sincerely,

    Sheri Hasman

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Sheri. I will incorporate it into this article. If, after you read it, you are happy or not happy with what I have written, please feel free to contact me again and let me know.

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  6. I have a very different opinion of the Town of Prelate. I took music lessons at the Convent & all the Sisters there treated me very well. I remember the two I had for teachers, Sister Pascal & Sister Gertrude, always were very kind to me, and I wasn't Catholic. As far as I remember we were always treated with respect & they all were very friendly to us.

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  7. Is the aylsham hotel still there

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  8. Prior to the Hassmans the hotel was owned by Inga and Phillip Wslston for about 3 to 4 years.

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  9. my parents had the hotel from 75-77 and the third floor was closed off back then already

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  10. I stayed there while hunting geese a few times in the 1970's. Once I stayed there while attending Vern Charnetski's (2nd) wedding. Back in those days I knew a great many of the farmers around Prelate, Sceptre, Lemsford, etc....and who owned all the sloughs.
    I can remember those big, impressive Deer mounts in the bar. The café was good... off and on, depending on who was cooking. There were good hard working people, mostly with excellent senses of humor around Prelate. I have wonderful memories of many good times there.

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