Each time I visit the Hedley Museum (usually at least 2 times per week) I return to the wall where photos of several Hedley hotels are displayed. I recall being amazed when I first learned that there had been 6 hotels of note, as well as several smaller ones, now largely forgotten. Even today it continues to surprise me that our little town, which presently has about 250 inhabitants on a good day, was the hub of so much activity.
In addition to the two hotels mentioned in the previous post, a third, The Commercial, was constructed by C.E. Oliver and Associates in the fall of 1902. In 1911, this hotel almost met the same dismal fate as the other two. A front page story in the January 26, 1911 Hedley Gazette reads as follows:
“Hedley nearly came in for a rather serious blaze on Thursday night of last week. Fire started in Critcley’s shoeshop, a small building attached to the Commercial hotel. It is thought that a spark from the stove caught in a gunny sack curtain near by and it was beginning to go in lively shape when noticed by F.M. Gillespie and G. McEachern, who happened to be in the drugstore opposite and were looking in that direction. They rushed over and kicked in the door, where the gunny sack was blazing and the woodwork alongside was in flames. First thing they pulled down the curtain and stamped out the fire. Then, using the partially burned sacking they smothered the remaining flames.”
The hotel survived several other fire related incidents. It did burn down though, in 1956. I have not found a photo of the Commercial, so if anyone has one please contact me on the comment section of the blogsite.
A fourth hotel, The Similkameen, situated at the corner of Scott
Avenue and 2nd Street, was built in 1904. The cost of $15,000. was a considerable sum at that time, and it was touted by the owners to be “the finest hotel in Hedley”. Writing in the April, 1948 edition of the British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Harry D. Barnes describes it as “a modern, well-built, and comfortable hotel.” He goes on to say “it soon became a popular stopping-place for travellers.”
On February 2, 1916 a fierce fire engulfed The Similkameen. Due to the intense cold, water pipes were frozen. In a futile attempt to control the blaze, desperate firefighters could do no more than throw buckets of snow on the conflagration. Only a few pieces of china marked “Similkameen Hotel” survived.