This year Lea and Ryan Martin posed to re-create a photo of Ryan’s parents (shown below) for the Nelson Daily News in 1988, in which Dave and Sheila Martin dressed in early 20th century attire. Photo: Adrian Wagner

Hume Hotel celebrates 120th anniversary

Four days of events this week at Nelson’s oldest hotel

The Hume Hotel is celebrating its 120th birthday this week with four days of events that bring to light the rich history of the building.

The hotel was built in 1898 and purchased by Dave and Sheila Martin in 1980.

Of the variety of events over the next few days general manager Ryan Martin (son of Dave and Sheila, who are now retired) says his favorite is a traditional high tea for seniors on Friday in the Hume Room with “complimentary tea, scones, crumpets, and finger sandwiches. We encourage people 65 and over to come down and get a free ticket.”

He says people should get their tickets at the front desk in advance because only 120 will be available.

“There are so many people, pioneers who have been here for decades and made the town what it is today. I don’t think there are enough events for seniors, and this is our way of thanking them for all they have contributed.”

Martin started working at the hotel when he was 14, busing, doing dishes, and setting tables. When he turned 19 he worked in the liquor store and bar tended in the night club.

“I was even a server in Mike’s Place pub, the worst server in history.”

He took over the general manager’s role when he was 25.

“I haven’t looked back, and feel like I did the right thing. This is what I should be doing.”

A murder mystery and a guest room tour

The first event at this week’s celebration is a murder mystery night in the Hume Room tomorrow from 6 to 9 p.m., limited to 25 people.

“Trisha Elliott has written a script, and you buy a ticket and a character is associated with your ticket.”

On Friday, there is a guest room open house from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ryan says the hotel has renovated every room in the hotel in the past 12 years.

“So many locals have been to this place so many times,” says Martin, “but not walked up the stairs, so people can check out the work we have done.”

The hotel was built in 1898 by the Hume brothers, J. Fred and Horace, and it was considered the grandest hotel between Winnipeg and Vancouver.

In the 1920s, new owner George Benwell modernized the building by getting rid of of the balconies and the turret and adding more guest rooms.

That was a period when new technology was added to hotels, including the Hume, says Martin, the most significant being the elevator.

“And every room had its own telephone. It had an ice machine cable of 600 pounds of ice a day. But unfortunately the hotel lost its heritage status because of the renovation.

“When my parents bought it in the 1980s,” Ryan says, “they changed the name to the Heritage Inn because the Hume had a bad name. The hotel owed a bunch of money to people. It was a condemned, run-down building. Then after 25 years as the Heritage Inn we started our exterior renovations in 2005. When that was complete we reverted back to the Hume Hotel.”

Martin’s office desk is a reminder of the hotel’s early days: it was once J. Fred Hume’s.

A new beer brew, St. Patrick’s Day bash, and a big prize

The Nelson Brewing Company has created a special batch of anniversary ale to be launched at Mike’s pub at 5 p.m. on Friday with live music. Also on Friday the Hume spa has a free skin care event with discounted products from 5 to 8 p.m.

Martin says the addition of the spa to the hotel changed its clientele.

“We are not the party hotel we once were. It was party central in the hallways and rooms when I took over. We had the nightclub back then as well serving a younger demographic. Now we are focused on live music shows that start earlier and end earlier and don’t disrupt the rooms.”

On Saturday the celebration continues with St. Patrick’s Day.

“That’s a guaranteed bash every year no matter what,” says Ryan, “always one of the busiest days for us. We do Irish food specials, Irish drink specials and a fiddle player and band in Mikes Place pub.”

Sunday will see the unveiling the new Grand Sunday Brunch, “bigger and better than ever,” in the Hume Room.

And there’s a contest. Anyone who posts a fun or festive photo from the hotel on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #hume120 will be entered into a draw to win a two night stay in one of the Hume’s deluxe suites with breakfast and a spa package.

An adventure playground

As children, Martin and his brother and sister considered the hotel their second home.

“This hotel was like one big adventure playground. We would play in the catacombs, the underground network of tunnels (under the streets in the vicinity of the hotel, since boarded up by the city). There was a ladder in the alley behind the old Redfish Grill with a cover you could open and climb down, with a flashlight.

“You could also access it from windows in the Hume Room. You could just slide up and you were under the sidewalk. It was just rock piles rubble, pop bottles, cans. It was pretty dirty down there but as a kid it was just the best thing.

“I sometimes pinch myself, thinking that Nelson is my home town and I’ve been part of this business since I was six years old.”



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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Sheila and Dave Martin in vintage attire in 1988. Photo: Nelson Daily News

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