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


  1. sam ward kemaldean17 June 2012 at 21:54

    thank you Joan for this story of the Empire Hotel. my name is Sam Ward Kemaldean, son of Norman (Sam)Kemaldean and Grandson of Joe and Niame Kemaldean. i have many fond memories of growing up around the Empire Hotel as it was my second home as a young boy. from the bird and deer hunters from the States who came up and stayed every fall, to the travelling salesmen who stopped in, to the travellers on the STC Bus lines and the weekly delivery of the big metal containers of film for the weekend movie at the theatre to the crowd of movie goers that went to Mr. and Mrs. Joes' after the movie or went there after a hockey game. the Hotel was a hub of activity. many a special Family reunions were held there every xmas or some holiday weekend. thanks for helping me remember those special years.

    1. Hi Sam,

      Its really nice to hear from you. I'm glad you liked my story about the hotel in Carievale, and that it brought back good memories. Do you still live in Saskatchewan? Am I correct in assuming that the present-day gift shop (seen in Google Street View photos above) is the old hotel? The roof line looks the same as the original. If you have any photos or stories that you can share with me, I will add them to this blog article.

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

    2. hi Joan. this Sam Ward Kemaldean. the gift shop is the hotel, but last i checked the hotel was gutted and nothing else done yet as far as renovations and/or opening up. A woman from Carnduff bought it with i think plans of opening a gift shop. Disappoints me, wish i had her money i would buy it back and make it livable. i live in Minot ND and don't get home much anymore but last time i checked hotel it was still the same, heart breaking.

  2. Hello Joan, I came across your account of William Decimus Godson ans his wife Kate while doing some family research. William was my great-great uncle and the story of him being shot whilst hunting a family legend. Your article on his building the hotel fleshed out a little more of his story and made wonderful reading. Thank you!

    Do you have any idea where I may get a copy of the photographs in the article?

    Kind regards

    Rosemary Walden
    Windhoek, Namibia

  3. Hi Rosemary,

    I am so pleased that you were able to learn more about your family history from my article. All the photos are in the Cavievale and district local history book, "Autumn Leaves, Gilded Sheaves." I believe this book is now out of print, but it is available at the University of Saskatchewan Library (Special Collections), and in the Local History Room of the Saskatoon Public Library. If you wish, you can right click on each of the photos and save them to your computer.

    Best wishes,


    1. Thank you so much for checking out my blog, and for your comment - all the way from India!

    2. I grew up in Carievale...lived there from August 1959 until October 1977 when my Mom remarried and we moved to Shoal Lake, Manitoba. Mr. and Mrs. Joe were wonderful people...fond memories of them both!

  5. I live close to the hotel. Very interesting to know that the hotel has a great story behind it.

    1. Am I correct in assuming that the present-day gift shop (seen in Google Street View photos above) is the old hotel? The roof line looks the same as the original. I would love it if you could confirm that it is the same building! Thanks.

  6. Interesting article. I have never been there but the history of the hotel and its owners is intriguing. It was a different way of life in those days. I always imagine how hard the people of that era worked to make their living and raise families. I have a thermometer in my little collection that depicts a father and son coming home from hunting with their catch of the day. It reads "The Empire Hotel, Air Conditioning and Running Water, Carievale, Sask". That is how I came to look up your story.

    1. Thanks for reading my blog and for commenting. I am not a collector, but nevertheless I am always on the lookout for small town hotel memorabilia and "advertiques."

  7. This is a great article however I'm surprised that none of our local people who have shared the blog on FB have commented. The bar has had a few different owners and managers since Kemaldean's. The photo from 2009 street view shows a sign that actually says "G & T's" JUST FOR ONE. (Gerry & Teresa) It was never operated as a gift shop.

    1. Thank you for reading my article and for your comment. It is challenging to find information about these old hotels and the people who owned them. I am always updating my articles as new information comes my way!

  8. I too am from the Carievale area and fondly remember the Kemaldeans. "Mrs. Joe" made a wonderful ham sandwich (in my very young mind) and was so kind to me and my siblings. Yes, that is the original hotel that is pictured. Sincerely: Penny Coon

  9. My mom grew up in Carievale, my grandparents were there from the 30's up until they moved into a seniors condo in 2001. My grandpa (Harry Burke) owned one of the service stations in town. So many great memories of the hotel, the gas station and just small town living.