Dec. 1 WEEKENDER: A short history of Grand Forks’ Winnipeg Hotel

At over a century old, the Winnipeg Hotel is the oldest hotel standing after fires destroyed several structures over the years.

A photograph of the Winnipeg Hotel in the early 1900s before a fire damaged the building. Sam J. Miller (top right) was one of the owners of the hotel.

At over a century old, the Winnipeg Hotel is the oldest hotel standing in Grand Forks after multiple fires destroyed several structures over the years.

Construction of the Winnipeg Hotel began in 1900 in the Morrison Block of Grand Forks and officially opened on Jan. 4, 1901.

As found in the Boundary Historical Society archives, Dr. and Mrs. Murry owned the hotel, which was “a lovely public home in appearance rather than a hotel, and this impression is strengthened after a visit to the interior is made, not only the treatment of the jenial doctor and esteemable wife, but the general aspect of house through, at to this feeling of homeliness.”

Records show that the hotel had ivy-trellished windows framing white tables that were hosted by courteous waiters and delicious fare. The walls were pure white, with blue and gold touches.

The hotel had 30 rooms unlike regular hotel quartres, with its velvet carpets and Japanese touches. There were carved chests, antique tapestries, “tempting couches and chairs” that gave the hotel a homey fell.

There were modern appliances such as baths, electric bells and lights, along with a hotel carriage that was able to transport guests to various locations, including the local train station.

The Winnipeg Hotel, a wood-framed building, managed to survive both the fires in 1908 and 1911. Originally built with a corner tower and bay windows, the hotel was a good example of the Queen Anne Commercial Style, which was the most common High Victorian style in Grand Forks.

On March 7, 2012, the Winnipeg Hotel and the Grand Forks Hotel were set on fire.

Though the Grand Forks Hotel was completely destroyed in the early morning fire, the Winnipeg Hotel stayed intact for the most part. The Winnipeg sustained smoke damage to the inside of the building and minor exterior damage due to the fire.

At this point, developers hope to replace the damaged Winnipeg with a retail liquor store.

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