Sixty-first in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
A few weeks ago, this column looked at the ghost town of Ferguson and accompanied it with pictures of its last real landmark, the Hotel Lardeau.
That resulted in a call from Mike Laughton, best known as the first Nelson-born hockey player to make the NHL, whose grandfather John Cooper (Jack) Laughton (1874-1958) operated the hotel for many years.
Jack and brothers Alexander (Sandy) and Robert came to Canada from Scotland’s Orkney Islands. It’s not clear when the hotel was built or if the Laughtons were its original proprietors, but in an early mention, the Revelstoke Herald of August 23, 1899 stated: “J. Laughton leaves tomorrow morning for Ferguson to get the Hotel Lardeau in shape for opening.”
Soon after, ads appeared claiming the hotel was the “Best $2 a day house in the Lardeau … Choicest wines, liquors, and cigars. Headquarters for miners and mining men.”
Jack and Sandy first show up as Ferguson hoteliers in the 1900-01 BC directory. Sandy continued to run the hotel until his death of consumption in 1916 while Jack and Robert concentrated on the Victoria and Selkirk hotels in Revelstoke.
Pete Cameron acquired the Lardeau Hotel in 1916 but a dozen years later sold it back to Jack, who brought wife Margaret (Peggy) and four children to town, including Mike’s father. Jack remained there until a year before his death.
According to Milton Parent in Circle of Silver, “He had resisted moving from Ferguson even though making a living in this business had been marginal for many years … Jack’s less-than-elegant approach to proprietorship of the Lardeau appealed to many of his customers …”
Mike remembers visiting his grandparents in Ferguson when the town was down to about 15 people. “I don’t know how many patrons the hotel had,” he says. “Every room had those beautiful washbowls and kerosene lamps. We always went up before the end of October. Once snow set in, it was hard to get in there. There was an old livery stable across the street and we used to go there and watch horses being shod.”
The abandoned hotel was a popular subject for photographers including Donovan Clemson and Ellis Anderson. It disappeared sometime between 1971 and 1973. The BC Archives has its guest register covering 1910-17.
In 2008, on the 50th anniversary of his grandfather’s death, Mike and wife Georgi went to Ferguson to see the hotel’s site. “We looked around and there was nothing,” Georgi says. “It was a strange and sad feeling standing in the open lot and visualizing what was there when he was young.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Jack and Peggy Laughton had five children.
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