Wayne W. W. Stockton
SLS, P. Surv., CLS
I read the article in the Corner Post “Railway & Main: Small-Town Hotels in Saskatchewan” and found it a really interesting history of the Commercial Hotel in Maple Creek. In the blog attached to the article it mentions several other old Saskatchewan hotels including the Arlington Hotel in my home town of Maryfield. The article says that the owner, John Dodds, also acted as a bootlegger during the prohibition years 1915-1924. He was caught twice by authorities and paid the appropriate fines.
In the spring of 1953 while I was working for Saskatchewan Dept. of Highways, we stayed for a month in the Grand Hotel in Regina. It was located at the corner of Scarth Street and South Railway. The rooms were $1.25 per night and for that we got clean sheets every day and a free Leader-Post. One of the engineers staying with us was George Mollard. George is the younger brother of Jack Mollard and George went on to work with Jack in his air photo interpretation business.
In 1959 I was working with Rowe Enginering. Don Rowe was the first Director of the Municipal Road Assistance Authority. After 2 years on the job he resigned and started his own consulting firm doing almost exclusively grid road engineering. When Don resigned from the MRAA his position as Director was taken over by his assistant Archie Clampitt, SLS. While working for Don Rowe one of our frequent stops was in Yorkton where we stayed in an old hotel/rooming house on Betts Avenue. The rooms here were $1.00 per night. One night when we went to check in the hotel was full. The landlady phoned a friend down the street who said she could take us in. When we arrived at the friend’s house we found our accomodation was on army cots in the basement near the big old coal and wood furnace. When we woke in the morning it was pitch black and we heard someone coming down the stairs. Then a light came on and it was a high school girl who found herself standing in the middle of 4 men in the army cots. She was so startled she let a scream out of her and went rushing back up the stairs.
I can remember staying in the old hotel in Blaine Lake that had a neat fire escape system. In each room there was a coil of rope anchored to the floor by the window. In case of fire you would just throw the rope out the window and slide down.
In Avonlea we stayed in a hotel that consisted of rooms on the second floor of a Chinese restaurant. The toilet was an RV type with a foot pedal to flush and quite a small opening in the bottom of the bowl. There was a water tank above the toilet with instructions to turn the tap and put one quart of water in the bowl. Because of the limited amount of water used the toilet often got plugged up. To fix the problem there was a broom stick in the corner to poke the contents down. When the contents hit the septic tank 2 floors below it made quite a splash.
The Corner Post article brought back a lot of memories of staying in these old country hotels. Back in the 1950’s we were getting paid $5.00 per day for expenses and that included both hotel and meals. If we were able to get accomodation and meals for less than that amount the balance was money in our pocket. Country hotels were usually about $1.25 to $1.50 per night and rarely did we have to pay more than $2.00 for a hotel room. The least expensive season was in 1960. I was driving a Nash Rambler sedan on survey work and the front seats folded back flat to make a bed. Our 3 man survey crew had sleeping bags and we slept in the car all summer putting the expense money in our pockets. Those were the good old days.