Sunday, 19 June 2011

Indians in Bars: Saskatchewan Liquor Laws after the Second World War

First Nations people were not allowed to drink in Saskatchewan bars until 1960 -- the same year they were granted the right to vote. This is the sixth in a series of posts on provincial liquor laws and their impact on stall-town hotels.  NOTE:  The term  "Indian" is used in this post, as that was the word most commonly used to refer to First Nations peoples during the period under discussion.

Several thousand First Nations men and women fought in the Canadian armed services during the Second World War. When they returned from overseas, however, provisions from the out-dated Indian Act prohibited them from voting, holding pow-wows, and drinking alcoholic beverages. They were not even allowed to drink with their former comrades-in-arms at the Legion halls across Canada. In the words of James H. Gray, “there was something patently ridiculous in a system which permitted an Indian to risk his life for his country but denied him access to a bottle of beer.” ( James H. Gray, Bacchanalia Revisited’ Western Canada’s Boozy Skid to Social Disaster  [Saskatoon:  Western Producer Prairie Books, 1982], p. 117)

John Tootoosis. Image source
From 1946 to 1948, a Special Committee of the Senate and House of Commons studied the Indian Act and heard a large number of opinions on the issue of Indian alcohol restrictions in Canada. In May 1947 John B. Tootoosis, president of the Union of Saskatchewan Indians, told the hearings that there might be some problems, but, he maintained, “the Indian would learn to handle whiskey.” Joseph Dreaver, former president of the Saskatchewan Indian Association, claimed that “the sooner the Indian has same privilege as the white man it will be better for him.” Dreaver, a veteran of both world wars, told the committee that Aboriginal soldiers drank at in military canteens along with their non-Aboriginal comrades, and he “found no difference between the Indian and the white man.” (Canada. Parliament. Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons Appointed to Examine and Consider the Indian Act, 9 May 1947,vol. 4, p. 1071)  

Joseph Dreaver (2nd from right), c. 1944. Image source
In 1951, on the recommendations of the Special Committee, the federal government made a number of changes to the Indian Act, including an amendment which permitted Indians to consume intoxicating beverages in licensed premises. The catch was that their provincial government had to take the initiative and petition the governor general-in-council. The Saskatchewan government was not prepared to act. Premier Tommy Douglas, a non-drinker himself, was not in favour of drinking whether by whites or Indians. He knew there was a divergence of opinion about drinking among Saskatchewan’s Indian leaders. “Local chiefs knew only too well the disastrous effects alcohol had had in the past,” F. Laurie Barron explains, “and understandably they were not anxious to legitimize or broaden its use.” Hotel owners in Saskatchewan were solidly opposed to opening their drinking establishments to Indians. According to Barron, they were afraid that drunken Indians might cause violence and drive away business. (F. Laurie Barron, Walking in Indian Moccasins: The Native Policies of Tommy Douglas and the CCF [Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1997], p. 110)

Nothing was done until 1960 when Douglas set aside his own reservations on the matter and petitioned the federal government to issue the necessary proclamation. The province’s Indians were given the right to buy and consume alcohol the same year they were granted the right to vote. The following year, the Hotel Association of Saskatchewan proposed that Indian drinking continue to be restricted until an education program could be implemented to teach Indians about their rights and responsibilities involved in alcohol consumption. 

John Tootoosis, president of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, informed the hotelmen that many educational meetings had been held on reserves throughout the province during 1960 that were designed to help Indians understand the complexities of the new regulations. Bill Wuttunee, a Regina lawyer and member of the provincial committee on minority groups, stated that while most Saskatchewan hotelmen were co-operating well, a few had “completely disregarded the civil liberties of Indians.” Wuttunee believed that Indians, given time, would be able to handle liquor as well as anyone else. CLICK HERE to read "Hotelmen’s Proposals Get Criticism from Some Groups,” Regina Leader-Post, May 17, 1961, p. 3.

Tommy Douglas, 1945. Image source
The following year, Premier Douglas addressed the 30th annual convention of the provincial hotels association. He urged hotelmen to be patient in dealing with problems created by allowing Indians into licensed beverage rooms. “We are having this trouble,’ Douglas said, “because we are reaping the harvest of 50 years or more of making the Indian a second-class citizen. We are going to have to make up our minds whether we are going to keep the Indian bottled up in a sort of Canadian apartheid or whether we are going to let him become a good citizen.” He cautioned, however, that while the Indian had been given equal rights, he had no more right to break the law than the white man. “If he is drunk or causing a disturbance then he should be put out of the premises the same as a white man should. But he should not be put out just because he is an Indian.” CLICK HERE to read “Douglas Asks Patience in Dealing with Indians,” Regina Leader-Post, May 18, 1961, p. 42.

Racism in Hotels

It was not long before incidents of discrimination against Indians in Saskatchewan hotels began to occur. In May of 1963, for example, three First Nations people were charged with causing a disturbance when they were refused beer in the “white” half of the beverage room at the Edenwold hotel. Alfred G. Pfenning, the hotel owner, had introduced a “Saturday night rule” by which Indians were restricted to half of the planter-divided beverage room on Saturday nights. Two of the three people were fined $1, and charges were dropped against the third person. Provincial Magistrate L. F. Bence said the rule was unfair and bound to “rile” a normal person. The Criminal Code of Canada had sufficient provisions for dealing with rowdyism, he said. But to have restrictions based on a person’s race amounted to provocation. CLICK HERE to read “Segregation in Parlor Termed a Provocation,” Regina Leader-Post, May 24, 1963, p. 2.

Image source
In 1971, four Saskatchewan hotels were accused by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians of discrimination under the Fair Accommodation Practices Act. Pubs in the Broadway Hotel at Leask, the King George Hotel at Kamsack, the Baldwin Hotel in Saskatoon, and a hotel in Prince Albert were alleged to have refused service to Indians. In the case of the Leask hotel, the beer parlor was divided into two areas, one with rugs and the other without. Indians patrons were not served if they sat in the portion with the rugs. An Indian woman said that she tried to sit in the white area three times and was told to move each time. At the Kamsack hotel, an Indian complainant said he walked into the white section of the bar and was told “we don’t serve your kind in here … you stink up the place.” 

In his letter demanding an investigation, FSI Chief David Ahenakew stated that while drinking might not be the most enlightened social endeavor, it was absolutely essential, “especially in such a milieu where defences are often lower and the cutting edge of racial tension more keenly felt,” that scrupulous attention should be paid to the basic civil rights of all Canadian citizens. CLICK HERE to read "Beer halls may face charges,” Regina Leader-Post, Jan. 6, 1971, p. 2.

Senator John B. Tootosis and David Ahenakew, c. 1975. Image source

Troubling Legacy

By the end of the 1970s, alcohol abuse was one of the biggest problems facing the First Nations peoples of Saskatchewan. CLICK HERE to read more. In 1978, Jim Sinclair, president of the Association of Metis and non-status Indians of Saskatchewan, stated that almost half of the natives in the province were “sick with booze,” and had severe alcohol problems. CLICK HERE to read “Alcohol Treatment Urged for Natives,” Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, July 20, 1978, p. 28. Things were so bad that Senator John Tootoosis, chairman of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians' senate, stated in 1981 that he felt the reason the Canadian government had permitted Indians to drink in bars and buy alcohol was to allow them to kill themselves off. CLICK HERE to read "Fight for Rights, Indians Told," Regina Leader-Post, November 24, 1981, p. 4.

© Joan Champ 2011

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Carievale Hotel: A Love Story

O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O stay and hear! your true-love's coming
That can sing both high and low;
Trip no further, pretty sweeting,
Journey's end in lovers' meeting--
Every wise man's son doth know
            -  Shakespeare, “Carpe Diem” (1st verse)

Railway Avenue, Carievale, c. 1910. Hotel is third from right.
From Autumn Leaves, Gilded Sheaves (1988)


William Decimus Godson and his wife Catherine (Kate) built the Shakespeare Hotel in Carievale in 1902, and opened it for business in 1903. Both William and Kate were born in England, and Kate had grown up near Stratford-on-Avon – hence the name of their hotel.

Kate and William Godson. From Autumn Leaves, Gilded Sheaves (1988)
The Shakespeare Hotel was a two-storey frame building on Railway Avenue, with an open verandah across the front. It had seven bedrooms on the second floor, two of which the Godsons reserved for their own use – one as a sitting room, the other as a bedroom.  The other five rooms were for boarders and travelling guests. 

The dining room on the first floor was a busy place, as the train from Brandon to Estevan stopped in Carievale for dinner. “In those days,” Decima (Godson) Horsborough recalled for the Carievale history book, “vegetables, meat and desserts were all served on separate dishes and placed next to the diner’s dinner plate… one thinks of all the extra dishes to wash!” The kitchen had a large coal and wood stove. There was also a sample room on the main floor where commercial travellers opened their trunks and displayed their wares to, and took orders from, Carievale merchants.

A liquor license was obtained for the bar, “a good form of insurance against slow business for any hotel,” Decima observed. Hotel staff included Mrs. Mullet, the cook, and the three Moore sisters from the Thunder Creek area who worked in the kitchen, dining room and as chambermaids.

Image source
In June 1904, the hotel staff prepared a great quantity of baking for a Sports Day. Decima found the following list in her mother’s handwriting in the back of her cookbook: 222 plain cookies; 100 raisin cookies; 116 ginger cookies; 146 jam tarts; 100 doughnuts; 2 dozen apple pies; 1 dozen lemon pies; and 1 dozen rhubarb pies. Apparently, there wasn't much demand for pies at the Sports Day. Beneath this list, Decima's father had written, “39 pies leftover.” 

On September 15, 1904, ten days after his second daughter Decima was born, William Godson was accidentally shot and killed while on a prairie chicken hunting trip with a group of friends. He was buried in Carnduff. Kate Godson, with a newborn and a 17-month old (Kathleen Mary), took over the hotel.  She had never taken an active role in the management of the hotel before this, so her father, an innkeeper in England, came to help her. “Mother rented the hotel for some years – some renters were good, some not so good, and some dishonest,” Decima wrote. In 1906, the hotel was sold to R. T. Martin. Kate married George Taylor in 1907, and had three children with him. She died in 1946.



Mrs. Alice Izadora (Dora) Swayze operated the hotel in Carievale – now called the Empire Hotel – in 1916-17. Her husband, Herbert Swayze, father of her five children, was operating the hotel in Whitewood in 1911 when he died suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage. Dora raised her children while managing hotels and rooming houses in Abernethy, Bulyea, Earl Grey and then in Carievale. In 1917, Dora married Herbert Haines, a miner from Bienfait.


Ford and Blanche Muldoon ran a first-class operation at the Empire Hotel from 1923 to 1930. Ford, a resourceful man, introduced many innovations, including a light plant in the basement – the first electric power in town. A few years later, he constructed a building at the rear of the hotel to house a larger electric generator and ice house. The plant not only provided power to the hotel – it also sent electricity to the Orange Hall, the pool hall, the barber shop, and three street lights on Railway Avenue. This generator also facilitated the installation of a Kelvinator ice cream freezer – the first refrigeration in Carievale – which no doubt proved popular with the young people in town. In 1929-30, the Saskatchewan Power Commission (later SaskPower) installed power lines in the region. The hotel’s plant was used as a backup during power outages. The power linemen all stayed at the Carievale hotel, and Ford and Blanche had to be up before dawn to feed the hungry crew. 

Once the Saskatchewan Power crew moved on, the hotel business went into a decline due to the Depression. After exhausting all other options, Ford and Blanche applied for a beer parlour license in 1935 – a last ditch effort to save their business. Despite the amenities that Ford and Blanche had brought to the town, the local voters went against their liquor license bid, and the Muldoons saw no alternative but to abandon the hotel in 1938.

Ford Muldoon (centre) surrounded by family, c. 1955.
From Autumn Leaves, Golden Sheaves (1988)


The Empire Hotel had been vacant for two years when Joe and Niame Kemaldean bought it from Great West Life Insurance Company in 1940. The Kemaldean family had immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in 1924. They ran a store in Elmore, Saskatchewan, until 1934 when they moved to Carievale and operated a general store there. When their store burned down in 1940, the Kemaldeans, with their daughter Mabel and son Norman, moved their store into the dining room of the Empire Hotel. They operated a cafĂ© on the west side of the building. 

Niame and Joe Kemaldean, c. 1960.
From Autumn Leaves, Golden Sheaves (1988)
In 1946, the Kemaldeans were successful in obtaining a liquor license for the Carievale hotel. They moved their store into the vacant barber shop next door, and made extensive renovations to the hotel before opening the beer parlour in the hotel in 1947. Norman Kemaldean worked as the bartender in the Empire Hotel from 1948 to 1977. He witnessed many changes, including the renovation of the licensed premises from a beer parlour to a beverage room in 1962-63 to accommodate mixed drinking. When Joe Kemaldean passed away in 1977, his widow Niame sold the hotel to Dwayne Lalonde.
What is love? 'tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What's to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty,--
Then come kiss me, Sweet and twenty,
Youth's a stuff will not endure
            - Shakespeare, “Carpe Diem” (last verse)

Post Script

According to comments below, sometime in the 2000s the hotel in Carievale was bought by a couple - Gerry and Teresa - from Carnduff. The couple gutted the hotel's interior with plans to turn the building into a gift shop. It appears the gift shop never opened.

Former Empire Hotel in Carievale - planned to be a gift shop in 2009. Google Street View
Former Empire Hotel in Carievale, 2009. Google Street View

© Joan Champ 2011

Monday, 6 June 2011

Ferries at the Invermay Hotel

Invermay Hotel, c. 1915. From Parkland Trails (1986)
Invermay, c 1910 Source

 The Invermay Hotel was built by Anthony Turner in 1905 to accommodate the influx of settlers brought in when the railway came through. Despite the fact that the bar was closed due to Prohibition, Robert and Nellie Coleville bought the hotel in 1917.  The couple, with their six children, operated the Invermay Hotel until 1929.

Gladstone M. Ferrie, c. 1950. From Parkland Trails (1986)
Gladstone (Glad) M. Ferrie and his wife Mabel (Mabs) took over the operation of the Invermay Hotel in 1929 and ran it for 28 years.  Glad was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1892.  He came to Canada in 1906, and farmed in the Rama district.  He served as a corporal in the 2nd Engineers of the Canadian Armed Forces during the First World War. After the war, he resumed farming with Mabs and started a family of three boys and one girl. Mabs was a nurse, and since the closest doctor was in Canora, there were many times when she was called on to serve as a midwife. The couple decided to move to Invermay and buy the hotel so their children could attend school in town.

The hotel business suited the gregarious Glad very well. He loved people and his greatest pleasure was serving the public. This he did in a variety of capacities, first as hotelkeeper, then as reeve of the Rural Municipality of Invermay, and eventually as a Liberal Member of Parliament for the MacKenzie constituency from 1945 until 1954.

The dining room of the Invermay Hotel was the Ferrie family’s headquarters. The freight train stopped in town every day at noon and for many years meals were served to the crew. Meetings of the Rural Municipal Council were held in the hotel, and the members usually had their meals in the on council day. The RM Council’s annual Christmas dinner was served at the hotel for several years. After the Second World War, the hotel dining room was converted into a lunch counter. 

The Ferrie children were expected to help out with the hotel operation. The boys hauled water from the town well. “A familiar sight around town was our Scotch collie, Don, pulling the sleigh loaded with cans of water,” Ben Ferrie recalls in the Invermay local history book. (Parkland Trails: Histories of the R.M. of Invermay and Villages of Invermay and Rama, 1986) In 1950, the Ferries had a well dug on the north side of the hotel which supplied good drinking water for themselves as well as for others in the community. Glad also worked as a cattle buyer during the years he owned the hotel. He travelled to Winnipeg on the cattle train every Saturday, returning by passenger train the following Tuesday.

Glad and Mabs Ferrie, c. 1950. From Parkland Trails (1986)
Glad passed away in 1955 after a lengthy illness. His wife Mabs nursed him at home until the end. His youngest son Russ managed the hotel along with his wife Leona until 1957 when they sold it to Steve Kohan.

Invermay Hotel, June 2006.  Joan Champ photo
© Joan Champ 2011

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