In the wake of the tragic fire that destroyed the historic Beaverdell Hotel last week, it was widely reported to have been the oldest operating hotel in B.C. But it was just one of several making that claim.
Much depends on the wording: B.C.’s oldest hotel, oldest operating hotel, and oldest continuously operating hotel are all subtlety different. They can’t all be right, but it’s fun trying to sort out the contenders.
Here are five from West Kootenay Boundary alone. (A few others, such as Trail’s Crown Point and Arlington hotels and Nelson’s Hume, are of similar vintage but have not made such claims.)
Name: Beaverdell Hotel
Claim: Oldest operating hotel in B.C., oldest continuously operated hotel
Comment: Although some sources date its construction to 1897, newspaper ads have it opening in July 1901 as Smith’s Hotel under the proprietorship of D.W. (Trapper) Smith.
In recent years the hotel boasted a sign out front that said: “Beaverdell Hotel/built before 1900/is one of the oldest existing hotels in B.C.”
The last owner also claimed to have the oldest liquor license in the province. Whether that was true or not, it could not have been no older than March 1925, when the first licenses were issued following the repeal of prohibition.
Name: Windsor Hotel
Claim: Oldest hotel in B.C.
Comment: Sometimes erroneously claimed to have been established in 1892. Although she didn’t build it, the indefatigable Alice Jowett was its longtime owner/operator — when she wasn’t prospecting in the hills.
She lived to 101, and it’s probably thanks to her meticulousness that the building is still standing. But any claim it had to being the longest continually operated anything ended two years ago with its closure. A great shame, for it’s one of the Lardeau’s finest landmarks.
Name: Hotel Ymir
Built: 1897 or earlier
Claim: Oldest continuously run establishment in the region, oldest hotel in continuous operation in B.C., oldest licensed establishment in B.C.
Comment: Operated by the Martin family of Hume Hotel fame in the 1950s and ‘60s. Later a biker-friendly hangout that famously received a cease-and-desist order from Harley Davidson over the hotel’s logo. Now restored and enlarged, and home to proprietor Hans Wilking’s extraordinary art collection, which is well worth a look.
Name: Rock Creek Hotel
Claim: B.C.’s oldest operating hotel
Comment: The date of construction is murky. One source says 1893. According to the Boundary Historical Society’s 14th report, Albert Madge built it for Harry Pittendrigh (or Pittendreigh), who lived there with his family. Nightly rooms went for 50 cents to $1 in 1895, while monthly room and board cost $30. The adjoining Prospector Pub opened in 1985.
Name: Leland Hotel
Claim: B.C.’s oldest operating hotel, oldest wooden frame hotel in B.C. continuously in operation
Comment: The Leland has the strongest claim of any on this list. Not only is it the oldest hotel in West Kootenay, it is probably among the two or three oldest buildings of any stripe. Originally called the Rathwell House after its founder, it was “almost immediately leased by Messrs. Grant and Thorburn and Harry Phair who promptly renamed it the Leland Hotel,” according to Port of Nakusp.