Vernon’s First Hotel
Don’t worry, you’re not seeing double. There was a point in Vernon’s history when the Vernon Hotel and the Hotel Vernon stood side-by-side on 30th Avenue. The taller Hotel Vernon was an extension of the original Vernon Hotel, which was built way back in 1885.
The Vernon Hotel was the first hotel in the city, but even as early as 1889, it had earned somewhat of an infamous reputation; in his book “The Valley of Youth,” Charles Holliday describes it as “a pretty tough sort of place” after witnessing a crowd of men fighting in the hotel’s front yard. It was said, however, to boast the finest watermelon vines in town, so that is something!
The Hotel is expanded
In 1908, a large addition to the Vernon Hotel was completed just next door, and the name Hotel Vernon was attached to it. The hotel’s owner at the time was Doctor Hugh Cox. The expansion consisted of a three-story building, and added an additional 44 bedrooms, as well as sitting rooms, a barber shop, a pool room with pool and billiard tables, a bar, and three separate cellars. The old building, meanwhile, included 14 bedrooms, a dining room, and a kitchen. But even with this growth, the hotel was often at capacity, and sometimes in the summer months, staff would have to put out cots on the verandah for surplus guests.
The Vernon Hotel Company and The fire of 1950
In 1913, the Vernon Hotel Company was formed with the object of purchasing the Hotel Vernon. They had plans to remove the old structure, build another addition and increase the hotel’s rate from $1.00 to $2.00 per day. While the old Vernon Hotel structure was demolished in 1927 so that the lumber could be reused, the Vernon Hotel Company did not actually come in to possession of the Hotel Vernon (are you confused yet?) until 1943, when it was sold by the wife of the hotel’s late owner, George H. Dobie.
Unfortunately, the company’s time with the hotel was short-lived, as it was destroyed in a fire in January of 1950 that forced the hotel’s manager, William Petruk, to evacuate his wife and two small children from the second-story balcony. While all the hotel’s guests were able to escape safely with only a few minor injuries, all that remained of the building after the flames were extinguished was a single wall.
To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts!
Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives