The Bow City Hotel

A picture of the Bow City Hotel from a 1914 publication by the Bow City Board of Trade entitled “Bow City, Alberta, Canada – City of Natural Resources”

One of the outstanding features of the Village of Bow City was the Bow City Hotel, which towered over the community at the peak of its prosperity.

Three stories tall, steam heated and boasting forty rooms, the hotel was the pride of Bow City. Owned by Messrs. Miller and Doran, and Mrs. J.H. Weaver, wife of the manager of the Berkeley Hotel in Bassano, the Hotel was located in the heart of the Pittsburg Realty Co. development, adjacent to the Bow River Collieries Railway line.

Construction on the building began in 1913, with the hotel opening for business early the next year. Almost immediately the hotel was the social hub of the Village, with “Old” Bill Doran’s genial nature and familiar saying of “coming up” garnering him notoriety in the paper, and a lively establishment to boot.

So lively in fact, that in April 1914, the Bow City Board of Trade wrote the Ministry of Municipalities about the hotel in Bow City, expressing their concerns that recent amendments to the Liquor License Ordinance left them “unable to control any abuses that might arise from this source.” The inability to police the lively establishment would prove a major, but short-lived, pre-occupation of Bow City’s first Council.

On Wednesday, June 17 the Bow City Hotel held their grand opening, and almost two thousand people gathered at Bow City to take part in the celebrations. According to the Brooks Bulletin correspondent the “[t]he weather was fine and crowds arrived from every direction. The place was soon jammed with buggies and automobiles.” Events that day included footraces and a “hummer” of a baseball game between the hometown boys and Brunetta (north of Lomond), which Bow City won 11-8.  Bow City’s chief booster H.C. Pierce M.P.P. naturally was present, with a banquet and fireworks wrapping up a banner day in Bow City.

The Hotel was off to raucous start, but its time in the sun would last barely a year as fate-and a touch of irony-again appeared to do in Bow City.  On June 27, 1915 as the men of the village were burning the midnight oil to prevent the rising Bow River from seeping into the mines, a lamp exploded in one of the hotel rooms, starting a fire which quickly razed the building to the ground. The Bulletin correspondent wrote:

“The building was wooden throughout and very dry so was destroyed very quick. The hotel was a fine addition to the “City” and it will look rather lost without it. Doran and Miller, the proprietors have boosted Bow City from the first and the loss will be a bad one for them.”

According to the Bassano Mail, the building and contents were valued at $22,500, and were partially insured by several different companies.

With Bow City’s chief landmark wiped off the map, it wasn’t long before the remainder of the Village would follow suit.

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