Monday, 14 November 2011

Two More Century-Old Hotels Burn: Stenen and Young

Stenen Hotel on fire. Trudy Scebenski photo. Image source

They’re going down fast. 

On October 26th the 100-year-old King George Hotel at Stenen burned to the ground. “It was one of the better hotels down the line. Other communities hardly have a hotel and this one was run real well. It was a good place for friends to meet,” said Merv Secundiak, former mayor of Stenen and owner of the town’s general store. “It was a popular place in the community.” Mr Secundiak told the Regina Leader-Post reporter that with the historical building and bar gone, he was planning to close his store and retire. “I’m not going to have anything in this community. It’s terrible. I feel so bad. Why [do] things like this have to happen to a small community?” Click to read full story

Stenen Hotel, July 2006.  Photo courtesy of Ruth Bitner

Young Hotel

Less than two weeks later, another old hotel in rural Saskatchewan was destroyed by fire. Sometime around 2:30 a.m. on November 13th, volunteer firefighters were called to a blaze at the Young Hotel.  Within an hour, flames had completely consumed the building.

The fire was started by two sisters ages 10 and 12 who snuck out of their parents' house at 2:00 a.m. They gathered papers from the Young post office and then went into the front porch of the empty hotel where they started a fire to keep warm. When they returned home, they left the fire unattended. The 12-year-old was charged with mischief, but would be dealt with through an alternative measures program. The 10-year-old was too young to be charged. Both girls apologized.

Young Hotel fire. Photo supplied by Cordelia Ciesielski and Tany Deneiko. Image source

The Young Hotel, formerly called the Manitou Hotel, was built by Thomas Murphy in 1910.  Murphy also built the hotel at Allan that same year.  In 1911, Robert (Bob) Barry bought the hotel and made extensive alterations. The following year, Barry built the Barry Hotel on the corner of Avenue B and 20th Street in Saskatoon. 

In 1918, the Manitou Hotel was sold to Fred and Katheryne Harpold who had emigrated from the USA in 1912. Their son, Ernest, was born at Young in 1915. Katheryne passed away on November 22, 1918 during the Spanish Flu epidemic. A couple of years later, Fred married Myrtle Pearson, a teacher from Indianapolis. After selling the hotel, the Harpolds moved to Melfort and then, in 1936, to Crooked River where they were again in the hotel business.

Mr. Feader owned the Manitou Hotel in Young from 1923 to 1927. Under his management, it was, according to the Young local history book, “recognized as one of the best hotels between Saskatoon and Melville. It was quiet and a homelike place run on a European plan [hotel rate covered the room charge only, but not meals]. Large sample rooms in the Annex of the hotel were at the disposal of travelers.” Footsteps to Follow: A History of Young, Zelma and Districts, 1981, p. 22.

Manitou Hotel, 1937. From Footsteps to Follow: A History of Young, Zelma and Districts, 1981.
From 1927 until 1946, the Manitou Hotel in Young was owned by Charles Jimsie and George Kaw. In 1935, a beer parlour opened in the hotel, replacing the restaurant and ice cream parlour.  In 1946, Otto Renner and his son bought the hotel and built an addition for a restaurant.

Joseph and Katherine Fornalik Prince Albert bought out Renner in 1955.  Patricia Button (nee Fornalik) recalls: “When our family lived in the hotel, it had a verandah and a balcony on the second floor at the front.  .. The café owned by a Chinese couple was next door to the hotel.” Footsteps to Follow: A History of Young, Zelma and Districts, 1981. 

When mixed drinking was allowed in Saskatchewan in 1961, Earl Nicklas bought the Manitou Hotel, turning the beer parlour into a beverage room suitable for “Ladies & Escorts."

Young Hotel Cafe, 2006. J. Champ
Joe and Doreen Freyling owned the Young Hotel for 27 years – from 1981 to 2008. “We enjoyed our time there," Freyling told the StarPhoenix on the day after the fire. "It was a booming place when we bought it. It was a young crowd who'd come out and party at the bar and we'd get right in there too.”  During the years the Freylings owned it, the hotel had a 100-seat bar a 27-seat dining room, a living quarters for the owner, and seven non-modern guest rooms. The people of Young used the hotel as a meeting place. “In a place that's small like Young, when you lose your bar and your restaurant, a sense of community starts to be lost as well,” Darcie Hellman, a former resident of the village, told the CBC. “When the people don't have a place to get together, you start to feel less like a town, right? It's just really sad.”

Giselle Begrand, owner of the Young Hotel for the past three years, was devastated by the loss. "My three kids and I put our blood, sweat and tears — literally blood, sweat and tears — for as long as we could manage here, so everything we owned and everything that we had was put into this," Begrand told CBC News. She was just weeks away from selling the hotel and had no fire insurance.

Young Hotel, April 2006.  Joan Champ photo
Rear view of the Young Hotel, April 2006.  Joan Champ photo
After the fire. Photo courtesy of Meshell Fedrau

 © Joan Champ 2011


  1. Hi,Thanks For sharing .Interesting.

  2. It's so unfortunate that these hotels were lost. But it is great that their history was documented!

  3. Thanks for sharing.
    I really like your photo skills. You have a knack of getting the best composition and pastel colours.
    (I have been posting my own Saskatchewan photos under user name canadagood at

  4. Thanks, Gregory. I used one of your great photos on this blog -- the Luseland hotel, I believe.