The Hume Hotel as it looked in the first decade of the 20th century. There appears to have been another hotel by the same name at Granite Siding

COLUMN: The other Hume Hotel

The Hume Hotel is a Nelson landmark, but it apparently wasn’t the only one in the Kootenays by that name.

Second of two parts

The Hume Hotel has been around since 1898 and in the Martin family for the last 35 years — nearly four times as long as the namesake family that built it and sold in 1907.

Dave and Sheila Martin ran the Hotel Ymir from 1965-69, taking it over from Dave’s parents, who bought it in 1954. Dave subsequently worked in hotels in Australia, returned home to manage the Lord Nelson hotel from 1971-73, then helped Ernie Rushworth revitalize a hotel in Watson Lake, Yukon.

By 1979, the Hume was shuttered, a shadow of its former self. Rushworth held the first mortgage on the property and asked the Martins if they would be interested in buying the place.

Following a $1 million restoration, the building reopened in 1980 as the Heritage Inn, with Freeda Hume Bolton, the daughter of original proprietors J. Fred and Lydia Hume, on hand to cut the ribbon. The name reverted to the Hume Hotel in 2005 to coincide with the completion of major renos to the exterior facade. Ryan Martin, Dave and Sheila’s son, is now the general manager, continuing a family tradition.

This much is all well known, and you can read more about it on the Hume’s website. But here’s something hardly anyone knows: there was apparently a second Hume Hotel.

In the 1980 book British Columbia Numismatica, Part I, trade token historian Leslie C. Hill wrote of a Hume Hotel that “briefly operated at Granite Siding, nine miles west of Nelson, during railway construction in 1898.”

This doesn’t make much sense, since the Columbia and Kootenay Railway, which passed through what became Granite Siding, was completed in 1891.

There’s no listing for a hotel at Granite Siding in the 1898 BC civic directory that year — or for Granite Siding at all, as it was then better known as Kootenay Crossing.

However, the 1910 directory does list a Hume Hotel at Granite Siding, George McDonald proprietor. There was a teamster in Nelson by that name, but I don’t know if it’s the same guy.

The hotel wasn’t listed in 1905 nor 1914 (by which time the area was better known as Taghum). Directories for the intervening years are missing or don’t exist.

Why the Hume family would have started an hotel at Granite defies explanation and I haven’t been able to learn anything more about it.

However, there were three hotels in the area that might have at one point been the mystery Hume.

In April 1901, W.O. Telford applied for a license for an unnamed hotel at Granite Siding. Whether it was granted, I don’t know. Nothing is known of Telford himself, although he may have been the William Telford who at that time was heavily involved in the Nelson Quoit Club.

(I had to look it up: quoit is a “traditional game which involves the throwing of metal, rope, or rubber rings over a set distance, usually to land over or near a spoke.” Horseshoes apparently evolved from it.)

Then there’s the Cecil Hotel at Taghum, whose existence I am only aware of because of a Nelson Daily News story of Sept. 30, 1918 reporting its demise:

“Fire last night destroyed the building at Granite owned by M.C. Monaghan and which was formerly the old Cecil hotel. A structure adjoining went up in flames. The cause of the fire is unknown.

“The building was located between Taghum and the railway bridge and was rented during the summer by Mr. Monaghan to campers. The Sisters of St. Joseph’s school were among those who rented it this summer. Since that time it has not been occupied, although it is thought that campers were in it yesterday.

“The building was a large one, accommodating 1,000 people at a dance which was held in Taghum some years ago.”

A ballroom that held 1,000 — and yet I can’t find a single other mention of it. Might it have formerly been the Hume?

Another hotel, the Thistle, was built in 1890 by John Smith and Robert Woods. The late Dave Norcross indicated it was a log building immediately west of the present Taghum beach. It served traffic generated by the Poorman mine.

Woods was later sole proprietor. When he renewed his liquor license each year, he indicated the hotel’s location as Woodville or Woodsville.

Wood died in his sleep at the hotel in 1906 at age 73, a few weeks after testifying against a man who broke into the establishment.

His obituary said: “Possessed of small means, he was generous to a fault, particularly with all mining men, and had a horror of going into debt, and had the reputation of invariably most honourably discharging any money transactions he was at all liable for.”

I don’t know how long after Woods’ death the Thistle stood, but given its location on the south side of the Kootenay River, I doubt this became the Hume’s satellite operation.

Previously: The Maddens: West Kootenay’s first family of hoteliers

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