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The Prince Edward Hotel

FULL VERSION: The Prince Edward Hotel at 100

Grant Hamilton 1 minute read Friday, Jul. 13, 2012

The Brandon Sun published five weeks of feature articles detailing the history of the Prince Edward Hotel, from its pre-1912 construction through its heyday and decline, evental demoltion and ending with the lot's current use as a skateboard plaza.

Each article was laid out on the page in a way that somewhat echoed newspaper layout and design at the time.

Of course, modern computer programs were used, which can't always replicate the hand-made look and feel of a century-old newspaper. Nor would that be desirable — these features included many more photos and better reproduction than newspaper even a couple of decades ago could have hoped for.

Although extensive additional information was included online, there is something to be said for the physical page.

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IN PICTURES: Skateboarders at the former hotel site

Grant Hamilton 2 minute read Preview

IN PICTURES: Skateboarders at the former hotel site

Grant Hamilton 2 minute read Monday, Jul. 2, 2012

After nearly three decades laying fallow as a parking lot, the former site of the Prince Edward Hotel was finally developed. It opened in late 2010 as a skateboard park, the Kristopher Campbell Memorial Skate Plaza.

The park was designed to incorporate historical touches that reflected the site's past as a hotel, and portions of the plaza are named after sections of the famed hotel.

Here are some images of the site, at Ninth Street and Princess Avenue, as it is used these days. |

Read
Monday, Jul. 2, 2012

After nearly three decades laying fallow as a parking lot, the former site of the Prince Edward Hotel was finally developed. It opened in late 2010 as a skateboard park, the Kristopher Campbell Memorial Skate Plaza.

The park was designed to incorporate historical touches that reflected the site's past as a hotel, and portions of the plaza are named after sections of the famed hotel.

Here are some images of the site, at Ninth Street and Princess Avenue, as it is used these days. |

IN PICTURES: Portions of the Prince Edward Hotel around the city

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Preview

IN PICTURES: Portions of the Prince Edward Hotel around the city

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Monday, Jul. 2, 2012

Despite the fact that the Prince Edward Hotel was knocked down more than 30 years ago, there is a surprising amount of the hotel still lingering around.

Many people have mementos from the hotel — acquired legally or not — in their homes. Pieces of railway silver, room keys and souvenir postcards are stashed away in many collections. Even today, furniture from the hotel turns up regularly in classified sales or estate auctions.

Some of the wood from the hotel's oak staircase was turned into clocks and planters, which remain in Brandon homes.

Someone apparently made off with the white marble fireplace, which was notably missing during a final tour of the building.

Read
Monday, Jul. 2, 2012

Despite the fact that the Prince Edward Hotel was knocked down more than 30 years ago, there is a surprising amount of the hotel still lingering around.

Many people have mementos from the hotel — acquired legally or not — in their homes. Pieces of railway silver, room keys and souvenir postcards are stashed away in many collections. Even today, furniture from the hotel turns up regularly in classified sales or estate auctions.

Some of the wood from the hotel's oak staircase was turned into clocks and planters, which remain in Brandon homes.

Someone apparently made off with the white marble fireplace, which was notably missing during a final tour of the building.

ARCHIVES: Articles from after the hotel’s demolition

Grant Hamilton 2 minute read Preview

ARCHIVES: Articles from after the hotel’s demolition

Grant Hamilton 2 minute read Monday, Jul. 2, 2012

Within weeks of the demolition of the Prince Edward Hotel, the lot had been graded, cement barriers had been placed in neat rows, and a ticket-dispenser had been installed, charging motorists 25 cents for two hours parking where the hotel had once stood.

It was an inglorious end for a one-time jewel in Brandon's downtown skyline. But the city didn't expect it to stay that way for long.

Many plans for the lot would be debated over the coming weeks and months, but eventually it fell off the development radar — until a group of skateboarding fans headed by Steve Malkowich and Jordan Ross approached city council with a plan for a skateboarding plaza.

Here are selected news articles telling those stories:

Read
Monday, Jul. 2, 2012

Within weeks of the demolition of the Prince Edward Hotel, the lot had been graded, cement barriers had been placed in neat rows, and a ticket-dispenser had been installed, charging motorists 25 cents for two hours parking where the hotel had once stood.

It was an inglorious end for a one-time jewel in Brandon's downtown skyline. But the city didn't expect it to stay that way for long.

Many plans for the lot would be debated over the coming weeks and months, but eventually it fell off the development radar — until a group of skateboarding fans headed by Steve Malkowich and Jordan Ross approached city council with a plan for a skateboarding plaza.

Here are selected news articles telling those stories:

Other buildings at risk

Grant Hamilton 7 minute read Preview

Other buildings at risk

Grant Hamilton 7 minute read Saturday, Jun. 30, 2012

When the Prince Edward Hotel was constructed, between 1910–12, the city was in the midst of a building boom. A million dollars of new buildings were erected in each of those three years — equivalent to nearly $70 million of new construction today. And that was in a city of less than 15,000.

In the century since, many of those buildings have been lost. But many are still around.

Steps have been taken to preserve and restore some of them, most prominently the old nurse’s residence at the former Brandon Mental Health Centre, now home to the culinary arts department at Assiniboine Community College.

But other aged buildings have been left to decay — or even to collapse, as in the ignominous case of the Brown Block, which heaved over into 10th Street under a load of heavy wet snow in mid-March 2011.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 30, 2012

Photo courtesy of Google Maps
Health officials say there are major problems throughout the Brandon Inn, located on Ninth Street and Princess Avenue.

What do skaters say?

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Preview

What do skaters say?

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Saturday, Jun. 30, 2012

On a recent afternoon visit to the Kristopher Campbell Memorial Skate Plaza, skateboarders were actually outnumbered by BMX bikers.

The skate park, built on the same lot where the Prince Edward Hotel once stood, was designed and built to echo the long-gone building.

Judging by the tentative answers given by young people landing tricks on skateboards and bikes, though, the design work hasn’t quite sunk in.

Ask them what came before the skate park, and you’ll get a few quizzical looks.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 30, 2012

Grant Hamilton / Brandon Sun
Zack Hodgsen, 10, takes a jump on his BMX bike at the Kristopher
Campbell Memorial Skate Plaza on Friday afternoon, as his friend Zach Gwyer, 12, circles around to take a turn behind. The skateboard
park was designed right from its first designs to echo the Prince
Edward Hotel.

Where is the Prince Edward now?

Grant Hamilton 6 minute read Preview

Where is the Prince Edward now?

Grant Hamilton 6 minute read Saturday, Jun. 30, 2012

New visitors to Brandon’s modernist city hall may be pardoned a moment of cognitive dissonance when they first look up in the lobby.

Above a sunken central area, which is mostly illuminated by natural light from the front glass wall, a ceiling full of hidden fluorescent lights ensures that no shadows remain.

But at each corner is a late addition. Four chandeliers hang from the ceiling, their teardrop crystals and ornate design harbouring a style that is a notch or 10 more classic than the rest of the building.

Those chandeliers are refugees from the Prince Edward Hotel.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 30, 2012

Grant Hamilton / Brandon Sun
Four ornate crystal chandeliers — prominent standouts in this modernist environment — hang over the sunken foyer in city hall. They were rescued from the main dining room of the Prince Edward Hotel, which once stood just two blocks away.

Part 5: Scars left on a city

Grant Hamilton 14 minute read Preview

Part 5: Scars left on a city

Grant Hamilton 14 minute read Saturday, Jun. 30, 2012

At the time it happened, it was perhaps reasonable to assume that knocking down the Prince Edward Hotel was just the first step on the way to something bigger and better.

Many Brandon residents lamented the fact that the city couldn’t find the money to turn the hotel into a library and arts centre. Many more signed petitions and donated money to try to save the building — for any purpose — once it became clear it was headed for demolition.

But a growing number felt that the time to save the Prince Edward was past. With the heat off, the concrete crumbling, the vaunted fixtures long-since auctioned off, they felt that the hotel was too far gone.

And there had always been a solid core of people who felt that the hotel was not just past its prime, that the building itself had never been worth saving. Sure, it was old, but in their view, that wasn’t a good thing.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 30, 2012

Dirk Aberson / Brandon Sun files
In 1980, it would have cost you two bits for two hours parking in this lot, where the Prince Edward Hotel until recently stood.

IN PICTURES: Photos of the demolition of the Prince Edward Hotel

Grant Hamilton 16 minute read Preview

IN PICTURES: Photos of the demolition of the Prince Edward Hotel

Grant Hamilton 16 minute read Saturday, Jun. 23, 2012

The date and time were supposed to have been a secret.

But word got out, and hundreds of Brandon residents crowded at Ninth Street and Lorne Avenue for the best biew they could get of the Prince Edward Hotel's last moment.

Of course, the train depot had already been knocked down. And wrecking balls had cut a path right through the centre of the building. And, even after dynamiting half of the hotel, the other half would still be brought down the old-fashioned way -- taking a few more weeks.

But for most Brandon residents, the date of the Prince Edward meeting its fate can be pinpointed to shortly after 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, 1980.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 23, 2012

The date and time were supposed to have been a secret.

But word got out, and hundreds of Brandon residents crowded at Ninth Street and Lorne Avenue for the best biew they could get of the Prince Edward Hotel's last moment.

Of course, the train depot had already been knocked down. And wrecking balls had cut a path right through the centre of the building. And, even after dynamiting half of the hotel, the other half would still be brought down the old-fashioned way -- taking a few more weeks.

But for most Brandon residents, the date of the Prince Edward meeting its fate can be pinpointed to shortly after 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, 1980.

IN PICTURES: The decaying interior of the Prince Edward Hotel

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Preview

IN PICTURES: The decaying interior of the Prince Edward Hotel

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Saturday, Jun. 23, 2012

As factions in the city fought over how -- or whether -- to save the vacant Prince Edward Hotel, a number of groups got official tours of the building.

Vandals had had their way with portions of the inside, and engineers had drilled holes in support pillars, to conduct studies. Here are some images from those tours.

Above: Battery-powered flashlights were required inside the hotel, where the power had long been shut off. Then-alderman Rick Borotsik is at left. (Dirk Aberson / Brandon Sun file)

Read
Saturday, Jun. 23, 2012

As factions in the city fought over how -- or whether -- to save the vacant Prince Edward Hotel, a number of groups got official tours of the building.

Vandals had had their way with portions of the inside, and engineers had drilled holes in support pillars, to conduct studies. Here are some images from those tours.

Above: Battery-powered flashlights were required inside the hotel, where the power had long been shut off. Then-alderman Rick Borotsik is at left. (Dirk Aberson / Brandon Sun file)

Part 4: Vacancy, debate and demolition

Grant Hamilton 17 minute read Preview

Part 4: Vacancy, debate and demolition

Grant Hamilton 17 minute read Saturday, Jun. 23, 2012

Former city alderman Ron Cayer says he is haunted by the city’s decision to turn off the heat to the historic Prince Edward Hotel.

Once the heat was turned off, the clock began ticking. It was known, right from the hotel’s vacancy in 1975, that any future restoration would be easier if the structure was still in good shape. Turning off the heat — letting a freeze-thaw cycle wreak havoc on the hotel’s supporting concrete pillars — would make short work of even the sturdiest building.

City clerk Lloyd Thomson made that point in the months after the hotel’s closing, as the city assumed responsibility for heating and powering the hotel.

He told aldermen at the time that he had contacted the municipal building superintendent who reported that “considerable damage would result if freezing took place.”

Read
Saturday, Jun. 23, 2012

Rod Foster / For the Sun
Spectators watch as the west half of the Prince Edward Hotel is imploded on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 24, 1980.

ARCHIVES: Articles from the historic debate over the Prince Edward Hotel

Grant Hamilton 2 minute read Preview

ARCHIVES: Articles from the historic debate over the Prince Edward Hotel

Grant Hamilton 2 minute read Saturday, Jun. 23, 2012

Once it was closed, boarded-up and vacant, speculation over the fate of the Prince Edward Hotel ran rampant.

Fights over the cost of renovation, possible future uses for the building -- and then over whether to knock it all down -- dominated the headlines.

Here is a selection of articles from the late 1970s, the last few years of the Prince Edward's life. |

Read
Saturday, Jun. 23, 2012

Once it was closed, boarded-up and vacant, speculation over the fate of the Prince Edward Hotel ran rampant.

Fights over the cost of renovation, possible future uses for the building -- and then over whether to knock it all down -- dominated the headlines.

Here is a selection of articles from the late 1970s, the last few years of the Prince Edward's life. |

Part 3: Decline of a giant

Grant Hamilton 10 minute read Preview

Part 3: Decline of a giant

Grant Hamilton 10 minute read Saturday, Jun. 16, 2012

When the Prince Edward Hotel shut its doors for the last time, on Jan. 29, 1975, it came as a nasty surprise for Brandon senior Roxy Cosgrove. A permanent resident of the hotel, who had lived there for five winters, she had just learned that she would be homeless.

The hotel, broke, had entered receivership. About 78 employees were laid off — with no severance pay. Reservations for three sports teams coming in from Lakehead University were cancelled.

And Cosgrove was spitting mad.

“I don't know which way to look. Just one day to get out,” Cosgrove told the Sun. “I'm a crippled old lady in a wheelchair. I didn’t think they could do this.”

Read
Saturday, Jun. 16, 2012

Dirk Aberson / Brandon Sun file
John Halliday, well-known maitre d’ of the Prince Edward Hotel, holds the sign that marks the closure of the hotel, Jan. 29, 1975.

IN PICTURES: The Prince Edward Hotel in its prime

Grant Hamilton 9 minute read Preview

IN PICTURES: The Prince Edward Hotel in its prime

Grant Hamilton 9 minute read Saturday, Jun. 9, 2012

There are a large number of common photos of the Prince Edward Hotel, especially from when it had just opened, and from when it was closed.

But with a little research, it was possible to find some rarely-before seen pictures of the Prince Edward.

They are sorted into a few cateogries:

Aerial and rooftop photosExterior photos in black and whiteExterior photos in colourInterior photos in black and whiteInterior photos in colourClick on any of those categories to be taken directly to those pictures, which are organized near-chronologically.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 9, 2012

There are a large number of common photos of the Prince Edward Hotel, especially from when it had just opened, and from when it was closed.

But with a little research, it was possible to find some rarely-before seen pictures of the Prince Edward.

They are sorted into a few cateogries:

Aerial and rooftop photosExterior photos in black and whiteExterior photos in colourInterior photos in black and whiteInterior photos in colourClick on any of those categories to be taken directly to those pictures, which are organized near-chronologically.

A 1937 Graduation Dinner

Grant Hamilton 1 minute read Preview

A 1937 Graduation Dinner

Grant Hamilton 1 minute read Saturday, Jun. 9, 2012

For many years, college graduation in Brandon meant a banquet dinner at the Prince Edward Hotel.

It was one of the few venues in the city large enough for such a gathering, and it was certainly the only location classy enough.

In 1937, Brandon College arts graduates preparing to enter their post-collegiate lives spent a celebratory evening in the Prince Edward’s dining room, feasting on roast larded beef tenderloin, chateau potatoes and giant peas au buerre.

There was a full menu of speeches and entertainment as well — each accompanied by a bon mot quotation.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 9, 2012

SJ McKee Archives / Brandon University
The arts department graduation banquet for Brandon College in 1937, held in the Prince Edward Hotel.

Part 2: Heyday of the hotel

Grant Hamilton 9 minute read Preview

Part 2: Heyday of the hotel

Grant Hamilton 9 minute read Saturday, Jun. 9, 2012

As the social, cultural and physical heart of the city, Brandon’s Prince Edward Hotel was, quite literally, a place where people came together.

And Sandra Armstrong is living proof of one particularly romantic example.Armstrong, now a librarian at the Brandon Armoury museum, says that her parents met while they were both working at the Prince Edward, in the early 1930s.

Her father Bill Armstrong would have been a young bellhop when he first spotted the woman who would become his bride. She was a couple years older than him, and working at the hotel’s newsstand.

It seems that Bill was almost destined to have something to do with the Prince Edward. Born in 1912, the same year the hotel was completed, he emigrated as an infant with his parents from England to Brandon — arriving in the city within weeks of the hotel’s gala grand opening.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 9, 2012

From the Brandon General Museum and Archive.
A postcard showing the Prince Edward Hotel shortly after its construction.

ARCHIVES: Articles from the Prince Edward Hotel’s heyday

Grant Hamilton 2 minute read Preview

ARCHIVES: Articles from the Prince Edward Hotel’s heyday

Grant Hamilton 2 minute read Saturday, Jun. 9, 2012

Once it was up and running -- and until it closed -- the Prince Edward Hotel rarely made the news iteself.

However, as a centre of the city's cultural and business life, the hotel was often mentioned: in announcements, in the social pages, or just in passing.

Here are a few of those articles. |

Read
Saturday, Jun. 9, 2012

Once it was up and running -- and until it closed -- the Prince Edward Hotel rarely made the news iteself.

However, as a centre of the city's cultural and business life, the hotel was often mentioned: in announcements, in the social pages, or just in passing.

Here are a few of those articles. |

ADVERTISING: How the Prince Edward Hotel was promoted

Grant Hamilton 5 minute read Preview

ADVERTISING: How the Prince Edward Hotel was promoted

Grant Hamilton 5 minute read Friday, Jun. 8, 2012

As the art of advertising evolved, so did the means with which the Prince Edward Hotel promoted itself. Here's a sampling of the ads that the hotel used to attract guests and clients throughout the years.

One of the first ads to appear in the Brandon Sun was for the hotel's barber shop, located in the basement. This ad ran on Jan. 19, 1913. |

Read
Friday, Jun. 8, 2012

As the art of advertising evolved, so did the means with which the Prince Edward Hotel promoted itself. Here's a sampling of the ads that the hotel used to attract guests and clients throughout the years.

One of the first ads to appear in the Brandon Sun was for the hotel's barber shop, located in the basement. This ad ran on Jan. 19, 1913. |

Weathering a railway strike

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Preview

Weathering a railway strike

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Friday, Jun. 8, 2012

During a recent strike by CP rail employees, the federal government forced them back to work with emergency legislation. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said the strike was harming the country’s economy and its reputation.

For those with an eye on history, though, that stance seemed a little over-the-top.

A massive rail strike in 1950 showed what economic consequences to a country could really look like.

The strike dominated headlines for 10 days. With freight stalled, fresh food become a worry. Telegraph operators worked for the railways, so they were off the job, too, and telephone switchboards became overwhelmed with long-distance calls — some taking an hour to connect. The government thought seriously about temporarily nationalizing the airlines, if only to get the mail through, at least.

Read
Friday, Jun. 8, 2012

LA Stuckey / SJ McKee Archives
It wasn't just strikes that could slow the train. According to the photographer, it snowed nearly 40 inches in October, 1959, making this train 10 hours late. The Prince Edward Hotel can been seen in the background.

Opening the International Peace Garden

Grant Hamilton 2 minute read Preview

Opening the International Peace Garden

Grant Hamilton 2 minute read Friday, Jun. 8, 2012

Up to 30,000 people were expected, along with nine bands and a 300-voice choir. Featured would be games of softball, lacrosse and horseshoe pitching — then an international tug-of-war.

A plane would take off from a brand-new strip, taking visitors on aerial tours. Two special train coaches were delivering guests and special buses would be taking a freshly-graded gravel road from Boissevain. The RCMP would be directing traffic; a dozen nurses were on standby in a first-aid tent.

Several premiers and U.S. state governors were among the dignitaries tapped to give speeches. President Hoover sent greetings, as did the Governor General.

It was 1932, and the International Peace Garden was being dedicated.

Read
Friday, Jun. 8, 2012

International Peace Garden
Cars pack the fields at the International Peace Garden during its official opening on July 14, 1932

View from the Keyhole: Memoirs of a bellhop in the ’40s

Grant Hamilton 7 minute read Preview

View from the Keyhole: Memoirs of a bellhop in the ’40s

Grant Hamilton 7 minute read Thursday, Jun. 7, 2012

In 1995, at the urging of Fred McGuinness, Lawrence Stuckey wrote down his memories of working at the Prince Edward Hotel. They are now held at the S.J. McKee Archives, part of the Fred McGuinness collection, and they are transcribed in full, below:

 

From Lawrence Stuckey -- Oct. 13, 1995

To Fred McGuinness

Read
Thursday, Jun. 7, 2012

Bob McClennan (Brandon Sun) / Lawrence Stuckey collection, S.J. McKee Archives, Brandon University
Prolific Brandon photographer Lawrence Stuckey, seen in May 1979. During the early 1940s, he worked as a bellhop at the Prince Edward Hotel.

SHARE YOUR OWN STORIES

Grant Hamilton 1 minute read Preview

SHARE YOUR OWN STORIES

Grant Hamilton 1 minute read Saturday, Jun. 2, 2012

The Prince Edward Hotel evokes many memories for Brandon residents over the age of 40.

Newcomers — and people too young to remember the hotel — may have more questions than they have tales to tell.

This page is a place to collect those memories or to answer those questions. Please chime in to the comments below. 

Or, email ghamilton@brandonsun.com to have your story heard.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 2, 2012

The Prince Edward Hotel evokes many memories for Brandon residents over the age of 40.

Newcomers — and people too young to remember the hotel — may have more questions than they have tales to tell.

This page is a place to collect those memories or to answer those questions. Please chime in to the comments below. 

Or, email ghamilton@brandonsun.com to have your story heard.

Sued over a sidewalk

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Preview

Sued over a sidewalk

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Saturday, Jun. 2, 2012

In October 1911, a small item was published in the regular list of council business.

“It was resolved: That the request of the Canadian Northern Railway Co. for sidewalk on Ninth street, in front of the hotel and station be granted, the same to be paid for by the railway in cash.”

Although aldermen for the rapidly growing Brandon were continually dealing with requests from residents and businesses for street upgrades, what makes this particular item noteworthy is its backstory.

A couple of years earlier, while the city was busily courting the CNR, trying to entice the company to build a new depot and then a big, first-class hotel in Brandon, both the city and the railway were distracted by a pesky lawsuit.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 2, 2012

Brandon Sun file / Manitobia.ca
A $5,000 lawsuit against the city claimed that the sidewalk outside the CNR office was in poor repair, causing the injury of Mrs. Annie Ardies.

Who was Prince Edward?

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Preview

Who was Prince Edward?

Grant Hamilton 3 minute read Saturday, Jun. 2, 2012

When the Canadian National Railway announced that their under-construction hotel would be named the Prince Edward, they were tapping into a popular surge of royal sentiment.

George V had become king upon his father’s death in May 1910, but his coronation wasn’t held until June the next year, and 1911 was marked Dominion-wide as Coronation Year.

Brandon joined the celebration, naming a brand-new East End school in honour of King George.

And, in early August, the Canadian Northern Railway announced that they would name their new hotel after George’s son, who had been invested as Edward, Prince of Wales.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 2, 2012

Freeland Studio, Toronto
Edward, Prince of Wales, during his visit to Canada in 1919.

Down on the Titanic?

Grant Hamilton 10 minute read Preview

Down on the Titanic?

Grant Hamilton 10 minute read Saturday, Jun. 2, 2012

It’s a popular myth that the original furnishings for the Prince Edward Hotel were being shipped over on the Titanic, when they went down in the north Atlantic.

But a myth is all it’s likely to be. Most people point to Mary Hume’s 1982 centennial book, “Brandon: A Prospect Of A City,” a local best-seller that includes the Titanic connection and no doubt accounts for the myth’s widespread belief today.

But for a number of reasons, it’s probably not true.

The earliest record that could be found to link the Titanic with the Prince Edward Hotel furnishings is a 1975 column by Garth Stouffer, then the Brandon Sun’s associate editor.

Read
Saturday, Jun. 2, 2012

F.G.O. Stuart
RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912

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