A historic hotel in the community of Pincher Creek, Alta., has been “razed to the ground,” according to owner David McQuaiq.
“It’s going to be a pile of rubble,” McQuaiq said. “The walls have fallen in, the front balconies have fallen onto Main Street. It is a complete write-off.”
Firefighters responded to the scene at approximately 4 a.m. and evacuated the area. There are no injuries reported at this time.
“We responded to a security trouble alarm at around 3:45 a.m. and from there we got everybody out,” McQuaiq said. “That’s probably the most important thing, is that everyone got out safe and sound. From there, the local fire department did an excellent job trying to contain it. But they weren’t able to.”
The hotel was built in 1904 and long served as a cornerstone of the community. It fell into disrepair in the 1970s until McQuaiq bought the hotel in 2006.
From there, McQuaiq renovated all the rooms, put a replica of the original wooden balconies on the front and turned the hotel back into nightly rentals.
“It was very much a proud part of the community on Main Street, keeping Main Street alive,” he said.
The hotel was a popular hotel when it was first built, with a white linen cloth dining room, McQuaiq said.
“Nowadays, we spent a ton of money renovating it. This last weekend we were full with skiers and visitors and you know, local workers,” McQuaiq said. “The hotel had brought a lot of pride back to Main Street, with all the work we had done.”
‘We have lost so much’
Gord Tolton, an education coordinator with the Pincher Creek-based Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, said the hotel was the closest thing the community had to a skyscraper.
“It’s one of those things that looked so permanent,” he said. “This is gone now, and we have lost so much from that historic Main Street. This is going to be very crippling.”
The King Edward Hotel started off life as a railroad hotel, Tolton said. If you visited Pincher Creek for business or to scope out land in the area, the “King Eddy” would be one of three hotels you might stay at.
The building was steam-heated throughout, a new innovation at the time. It also had a telephone installed within, a service which was a true novelty during the era before the First World War.
“Pincher Creek, in that time, was a destination. It wasn’t just a whistle stop that you pass through,” Tolton said. “(Around the time) of the First World War, it was just a golden age. The town was booming because people were looking for land, people looking to establish homesteads.
“And with all of that came business, and all of the businesses grew up right along Main Street.”
Special menus were often offered in the King Edward’s dining room around the time of the First World War, at which point diners could spend seventy-five cents to enjoy a full meal, complete with entrees like young turkey with cranberry sauce and domestic goose with apple sauce.
Operating for more than 100 years, the King Edward Hotel had its share of memories for countless Albertans.
Calgary resident Thayre Angliss said her grandparents met at the hotel around 1912, when her grandfather, Hector Angliss, was a rancher and wheat farmer on the banks of the Oldman River.
Violet Bream, her grandmother, was from southern England. She had taken all her savings and bought a ticket on the train, which brought her as far as Pincher Station.
Eventually, she found employment at the King Edward Hotel, meeting Hector when he came for his meals. Hector, then 32-years-old, loved Bream’s spunk, intelligence and quick wit, and how tall and willowy she was.
“It was a true love story… [the loss of the hotel] is heartbreaking. I’m pretty emotional,” Angliss said. “When I read it, I just felt this shock go through me.”
RCMP Const. Shelley Nasheim confirmed that the building was lost, and fire crews were currently working to make sure the blaze did not spread.
“There are no other buildings on fire. The weather is cooperating, it does get windy down there,” she said. “It’s an old brick building and it’s starting to cave in a bit. But it’s become less of a threat.”
- Watch this video, submitted by Caitlin Walker, to see the blaze that claimed the historic King Edward Hotel on Saturday
It’s too bad a Pincher Creek landmark up in flames 🔥 <a href=”https://t.co/4aL1JZ7Js4″>pic.twitter.com/4aL1JZ7Js4</a>