1944-2000. — 49 cm of textual records. — 2 photographs.
In the late 1940s, it was clear that a new hotel was needed in the growing town of Grande Prairie. Of the six hotels in the town, four had been built before 1920, when it was still a village, and the newest one had been built before the war in 1937. Now, with the post war building boom beginning, a new hotel was badly needed. At the time, the Alberta Liquor Control Board strictly regulated all aspects of ownership, construction and operation of hotels, and licenses were hard to acquire; so in December 1946, City Hotels Ltd. Edmonton bought the old Grande Prairie Hotel for its license, and then purchased three lots on the corner of 101 Street and 101 Avenue from the Masonic Lodge. Construction began in the spring of 1948, and the liquor license was transferred to the new Hotel York.
The attractive two-storey building of brick and stucco opened November 8, 1948, and was described in the media as “the newest and probably the finest hotel north of Edmonton”. “Upstairs there are 23 rooms, all with running water, many with a private bath. All rooms have wall-to-wall carpets and hallways are carpeted. Each room is individually furnished in soft, harmonizing colours, with natural colour furniture as a background. All rooms have been wired for telephone, but are not as yet connected due to inability to obtain a switchboard at present.” The services in the hotel included the York Café (a lunch counter and soda fountain), a newstand, a dining room, two beverage rooms, and downstairs a state of the art laundry, boiler room and banquet room.
“E.H. (Elmer) Logan, of Edmonton, has arrived to take charge of the hotel,” the newspaper article continued. “Mr. Logan is a graduate in Arts and Law from the University of Alberta, 1937.” Elmer had been a partner in a law firm besides being assistant crown prosecutor in the Edmonton police courts. He went on to become a civic leader and booster, as well as a prominent local lawyer. He was instrumental in the Grande Prairie Airport runways being rebuilt to handle heavy aircraft, and later served a term as town councillor. When Elmer Logan died in April, 1980, his son Merritt was in place to take over the reins, but he also passed away that year in December, and it was Dwight Logan who became the new manager of the York. Dwight also continued in the family tradition of civic leadership and during his tenure as hotel manager, served two terms as Mayor of the City of Grande Prairie.
To accommodate growth and changing times, there were many renovations at the York: a 16 room addition in 1953, and in 1955 a second addition with 24 more rooms and a larger restaurant. In 1958, the tavern had to be sectioned to provide for “Ladies and Escorts” and soon after, the Pioneer Lounge & Dining Room opened. In 1968, the York’s banquet room, which was a meeting place for many local organizations such as the JayCees, Rotarians, Kinsmen, the 54 Club, and Associated Canadian Travelers, was renovated and became the York Cabaret. When the ALCB revoked all cabaret licenses in 1981, the York opened Homesteaders, which operated as a quiet bar. The ALCB advised licensees across the province to follow the York’s lead. Finally in 1993, the Beer Box was added to the west side of the hotel when liquor sales were privatized. The constant adaptations allowed the York to continue to operate during the recession in the early 80s, when interest rates began to soar and many Alberta Hotels went into receivership.
In 1998, the Hotel York owners, staff and patrons celebrated their 50th Anniversary as “Grande Prairie’s Hospitality Centre”. For 50 years the hotel had been owned by one company and managed by one family. But the age of the hotel and changes in the City meant it no longer had the status it once had. In 2006 the Hotel was sold to new owners.
The records were donated to the South Peace Regional Archives by Dwight Logan, manager and owner of the York Hotel, in 2006.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of a research file on the history of the York Hotel; the original ledger from the Edmonton Hub Hotel which purchased the old Grande Prairie Hotel for its liquor license, and subsequent financial records for the City Hotel Co. Ltd. until 1987; menus from a variety of food and bar services which operated within the hotel; inspection reports; promotional material; correspondence and contracts relating to operations; a payroll ledger and some miscellaneous employee records; and documentation showing the interaction between the York Hotel and the community of Grande Prairie.
Table of Contents
|Series 332.01||History and newsclippings|
|Series 332.02||License and Inspection|
|Series 332.03||Food and Drink Services|
|Series 332.05||Financial records|
|Series 332.07||Contracts and correspondence|
|Series 332.08||York Hotel Buffaloes Fastball Team|
|Series 332.08||Promotions and Community Service|
|Series 332.09||Associated organizations|
|Series 332.01||History and newsclippings. — 1980-1998. — 1 cm of textual records.The series consists of a written summary of the history of the Hotel York by years; a collection of newspaper articles on the Hotel from its beginning in 1946; research on the history of hotels in Grande Prairie (in particular Billy Salmond, the first Hotelman); and a package on the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the Hotel on June 21, 1998. The news paper articles include some negative reports from 1980-1981 which are accompanied by Letters to the Editor defending the hotel.|
|Series 332.02||License and Inspection. — 1963-2000. — 1 cm of textual records.The series consists of correspondence and inspection reports, dated 1963-1982, from the Alberta Liquor Control Board, the Grande Prairie Health Unit, the Provincial Fire Inspections Department, the Grande Prairie Fire Department and the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. There are also license certificates from 1966 to 2000, which would have been posted on the wall of the dining room, bar or cabaret.|
|Series 332.03||Food and Drink Services. — 1952-1993. — 3 cm of textual records.Much of the activity in the new York Hotel, at least in its tavern and restaurant, was regulated by the ALCB. would be designated by the ALCB as a “Calgary” house. Beer was sold in 8 oz. glasses, to the “tide-line”, at 10 cents a glass. The price of beer was regulated by the ALCB and would not rise until 1965, when it rose to 15 cents for a 7.25 oz. glass. In 1970, the price rose to 20 cents for a 7.25 oz. glass. At last, in 1977, the ALCB removed controls on the size of serve and price per ounce, allowing licensees to serve beer in pitchers and the market to determine the price. In 1953, supper hour closures were introduced for the bars. This rule lasted until 1968, and although it meant the bar was closed it was beneficial to the York Coffee Shop. In 1958, mixed drinking was allowed only in “Ladies and Escorts” sections of beverage rooms. This rule lasted until 1967. The York Tavern’s floor plan still bears the traces of the Ladies and Escorts section. That same year lounges and dining lounges were introduced, with mixed drinking, but structure, furnishings and décor were strictly regulated. Construction of the Pioneer Lounge & Dining Room followed. Jimmy Mah became famous for his sizzling steaks and Cantonese cuisine. In 1964, musical entertainment began to be allowed in beverage rooms, and a bandstand was built in the Tavern. Country and western bands became a staple of the York Tavern, and although silence was at first required, within a year the patrons were often singing along with the band. In 1968, cabarets were introduced and after renovations, the York’s banquet room became the York Caberet. In 1971, beverage rooms were allowed to sell wine and spirits, and the legal drinking age was lowered to 18. This was followed in 1976 with Dancing allowed and a new dance floor in the York Tavern was instantly popular. In 1981, the ALCB revoked all cabaret licenses, and the York opened Homesteaders, operating as a quiet bar. The ALCB advised licensees across the province to follow the York’s lead. In 1985, Sunday liquor service became legal, and the York Tavern was open seven days a week. In 1992 video lottery terminals were introduced into the Pioneer Lounge. In 1993 liquor sales were privatised, and the Beer Box opened at the side of the hotel to provide beer, wine and liquor sales with excellent service and at very competitive prices.The series consists of menus from the various food and drink venues in the York Hotel over the years: the York Coffee shop, the Hotel York Dining Room, the York Restaurant, the York Hotel Coffee Shop, the Transylvania, Mom’s Tasty Kitchen, and Homesteaders Lounge. The file also includes wine lists, drink recipes and liquor price lists.|
|Series 332.04||Bookings. — 1948-1978. — 11 cm of textual records.The series consists of one Hotel Register from 1948-1950, and a series of daily record books (three from 1963 to 1965 and one from 1978) showing meeting room bookings and individual hotel room bookings. There is also a 1964 long distance phone call record detailing charges to rooms and individuals for making long distance phone calls.|
|Series 332.05||Financial records. — 1944-1981. — 17 cm of textual records.The series consists of Daily Income Journals from 1944-1967; General Ledgers from 1944-1965; a 1980 financial statement; miscellaneous records from 1980-1987; and property and business tax records from 1966-1984. There is an early ledger from the Edmonton Hub Hotel, 1944-1946, which was sold to the City Hotel Co. in 1946 for its liquor license.|
|Series 332.06||Employees. — 1947-1979. — 4 cm of textual records.The series consists of unemployment insurance records for 1947-1960, a payroll ledger from 1963-1964, and a record of employee hours from 1979.|
|Series 332.07||Contracts and correspondence. — 1967-1997. — 7 cm of textual records.The series consists of entertainment contracts with the many musicians who played and sang in the cabaret, contracts with building companies for expansions and alterations to the hotel and with Simpson’s and Eaton’s for furnishing the hotel, and general correspondence regarding the operations.|
|Series 332.08||York Hotel Buffaloes Fastball Team. — 1972. — 1 photographs.The York Hotel Buffaloes Fastball Team in 1972, when they were finalists in the Wapiti Men’s Fastball League “A” Division. Front (l to r) Gary Eggli, D. Gilmour (batboy), Lorne McLeod, Ron James, Rob Cunningham, Michael Gouchie (batboy), Marv Ponto. Second row: alroy Frederickson, Carl Gilmour, Merritt Logan, Bob Veale, Pat Gouchie. Third row: Frank Nellis, Terry Gorman, Conrad Labelle. Absent: Dan Mellish, Malcolm Calliou, Cliff Kakish.|
|Series 332.08||Promotions and Community Service. — 1967-1987. — 2 cm of textual records. — 2 photographs.The series consists of records documenting how the City Hotel Co. Ltd. and the York Hotel participated in the life of the community. This file includes promotional items and advertising, donations of cash/in kind to community organizations and to people in need, and the records of two bursaries at the Grande Prairie Regional College: the Elmer Logan Memorial Bursary, and the York Hotel Bursary. The two photographs are of fastball teams sponsored by the York Hotel: the York Hotel Buffaloes and the York Imperials.|
|Series 332.09||Associated organizations. — 1953-1994. — 3 cm of textual records.The series consists of circulars from the Alberta Hotel Association and correspondence from the York Hotel management which shows how the Association and individual hotels worked together to have an influence on provincial legislation.|