Monday, 5 August 2013

Quill Lake: One Family - Two Hotels

In 1906, Robert and Annie Florence Bannatyne sold their hotel in Oak Lake, Manitoba, and with their one-year-old son Herman, headed for Saskatoon. They planned to buy the Flanagan Hotel, but on the train they met Charles Volkes, a real estate dealer who persuaded them that Quill Lake was the place with a future. They bought a boarding house and enlarged it into the three-storey Leland Hotel. This was the beginning of the Bannatyne hotel “dynasty” that lasted until the 1950s. 

Robert Bannatyne was the son of a prominent Winnipeg family.  His mother was Metis woman Anne “Annie” McDermot Bannatyne; his father was Andrew Graham Ballenden Bannatyne, a fur trader, politician and “possibly the wealthiest, probably the most influential, certainly the most highly esteemed man in the Red River community.” Born in 1867, Robert grew up in one of the best homes in Winnipeg – a “noble mansion” on the banks of the Assiniboine River called Ravenscourt. The two hotels Robert Bannatyne built in Quill Lake were much humbler structures. Source  

Leland Hotel (far left), c1920. Source

The Leland Hotel

The Leland Hotel on the corner of Main Street was built in 1906 by Robert Bannatyne. A number of Quill Lake residents initially opposed Bannatyne’s license for a hotel. The hotel license commissioners of the day, however, felt the community needed a place of public accommodation, and the thirty-room, three-storey Leland Hotel, complete with sample rooms and steam heat, opened in the fall of 1906. One of the first functions held at the hotel was a banquet given by the Board of Trade on December 10, 1906 to celebrate the incorporation of Quill Lake as a village. The hotel did a roaring business until 1916 when the bar was closed due to Prohibition.

Leland Hotel, no date. Source

Leland Hotel, c1915. Source
Mrs. Bannatyne is reported to have been a jolly woman who loved having company despite the busy life she led. She often had her sister Ellen helping her with the chores of running the hotel and looking after the Bannatyne’s ten children. Source and With Quill in Hand; Quill Lake and District, 1903 to 1983, Quill Lake Historical Society, 1984.

Robert and Annie Bannatyne with their ten children, c. 1925.  Source: With Quill in Hand (1984)
Bannatyne sold the Leland hotel in 1920, due, no doubt, to poor business during Prohibition. The
Source: With Quill in Hand (1984)
new owner was Edward A. Cunningham, an Irishman from Liverpool, England. Edward and his wife Jessie came to Saskatchewan in 1907 with their three children. In 1915, they sold their homestead and bought the Invermay Hotel which they operated for a short time. In 1922, the Cunninghams and their four children moved to Quill Lake where they bought the Leland Hotel. The the onslaught of the Depression spelled doom for many a country hotel, and in 1929 the Cunninghams retired to Saskatoon. 

Two Chinese men, including “Der Louie” took over the Leland Hotel in the late 1930s, but after Archie McLean was murdered in November of 1939, they left. The police may have given them a hard time. McLean, an elderly bachelor, had participated in a late-night poker game held in a room at the hotel. The following morning, he was found dead in his shack by the village watchman.  The old-age pensioner had been beaten to death with a piece of wood. Fred Zazula, a 31-year-old farm labourer, was charged with the murder, the motive being robbery. When McLean left the poker game at the Leland Hotel, he had money in his pockets, but when his body was found, his pockets had been turned inside-out, and only a few coins were found on his body. Source 

Leland Hotel in the 1920s.  Source: With Quill in Hand (1984)
Major changes were made to the Leland Hotel after Edward W. Walker bought the business in 1941. Walker, a barber originally from Winnipeg, removed the second and third floors of the building, which included 20 guest rooms. Walker then operated his barber shop and poolroom on the main floor. 

 Apparently, the hotel still had eight rooms and plenty of living space for Walker, his wife Irene, and their four children.  The balconies were also removed, the windows changed, and some partitions removed and a stucco job done on the front.  “Our old building, known as Ed’s Barber and Billiards, has quite a history,” Walker wrote in the Quill Lake history book. “It was the largest hotel in the district in the early days, an old-time bar, a liquor outlet, and later a restaurant before I took over in 1941. … Heating was always a problem. There was a leaky hot water system which I changed to steam to heat the front part of the building and I had a big barrel wood stove in the poolroom part in the back. Steam was later piped back there, too. A big threshing boiler – hand fed, supplied the steam for heat; later a stoker, then an oil-burning furnace, which was at last converted to natural gas. Gasoline lamps were used over my pool tables for the first two years. Water kept coming up in the basement and had to be pumped out twice a day at least. Finally sewer and water and inside plumbing was a wonderful change when it came to town. ….”  (Source: With Quill in Hand; Quill Lake and District, 1903 to 1983, Quill Lake Historical Society, 1984, p. 843) 
Photo by Ruth Bitner

Walker sold the Leland hotel to Mac Wilson and Thomas Scarfe in 1982. It was used as a game arcade, with pinball machines and a pool table. The building was torn down sometime after that, replaced by a park and the Quill Lake roadside attraction – a large Canada goose.

The Quill Lake Hotel 

After Robert Bannatyne sold the Leland Hotel in 1920, he turned to farming.  He kept his hand in with business in Quill Lake, however. He owned a store across Main Street from his old hotel. In 1929, the original O.C. King Hardware store was remodeled and opened as the Quill Lake Hotel by Bannatyne. He operated the hotel until he died in 1934 at age 70. The business was taken over by Bannatyne’s daughter, Mrs. Flo Piett, who ran it until 1940. Other members of the Bannatyne family operated the Quill Lake Hotel throughout the 1940s. Herman, also known as “Toots” because he played saxophone in the town orchestra for local dances, ran the hotel with his wife Jean until his brothers, Garnet and Jim, returned from overseas after the Second World War. Garnet brought with him a bride from Holland and their four-month-old daughter. (Source: With Quill in Hand; Quill Lake and District, 1903 to 1983, Quill Lake Historical Society, 1984)

Annie Bannatyne passed away on June 3, 1945. She was survived by all ten of her children. The Bannatyne’s Quill Lake Hotel was still standing in 2013.

Quill Lake Hotel across the street from the former Leland Hotel site, August 2013. Joan Champ photo

© Joan Champ 2011

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  1. I have been known to spend quite a bit of time in that place.

  2. This is awesome information! Laura Bannatyne (one of Robert's Daughters) was my great grandma, so learning about the Bannatyne family tree is very fascinating for me! Thank you!

    1. Hi Melissa, I am so glad that my blog helped you to learn more about your family tree!

  3. So interesting! Oddly enough, this history is a part of my family as my grandpa is a son of Florence Bannatyne ( one of Robert's daughters) and my grandma was a daughter of one of Edward Cunningham's daughters. Crazy!! FYI...Florence Bannatyne carried on the family trait of running a hotel, as she ran the Old Hotel Café in Onanole, MB

    My grandpa's mother was Flo Bannatyne, and she had a son and my grandma's mother was a Cunningham, both from Quill Lake.

    1. That's quite a family connection to the hotel's history! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thank you for writing this up. I have often wondered about the early history of the Leland Hotel. Edward Walker was my grandfather, so my father grew up there.

    1. Your are welcome, Colleen! I'm glad you were able to find out a bit about the early history of your family's hotel from my blog.

  5. Thanks for this post! My grandparents were Toots and Jean Bannatyne. I remember he story of Great-grandpa getting off the train in Quill Lake instead of Saskatoon being told every time the aunties and uncles got together!

    1. Tracy, you are very welcome! That's a funny family story -- it's all about the stories! Thank you for sharing it.

  6. I think my Dad (Garnet)and my uncle Jimmy ran this hotel until the late 40's. They both ended up in Kimberly BC. Sad to say they have passed on.

    1. Thank you for checking out my blog article. Interesting how your father and uncle took over the operation of the hotel after WWII.