Thursday, September 6, 2012

685 Westminster Avenue - Sherbrook Inn

UPDATE: Past crimes at the Sherbrook Hotel (see bottom.)

Sherbrook Inn
Place: Sherbrook Inn
Address: 685 Westminster Avenue (Map)
Opened: Summer 1965
Architects: Duncan Rattray Peters Searle
Cost: $800,000


In summer 1964 plans were announced for the Westminster Motor Hotel at Westminster Avenue and Sherbrook Street. This was in the midst of a mid-1960s motor hotel building boom. Construction on the Dakota Motor Hotel and Champs Motor Inn (now Osborne Village Inn) also began that summer.

The original owner was Richard Hugh "Dick" Hooker, an executive with Dow Breweries. He stepped down from Dow to run the hotel. His brother Hal was a co-owner and acted as secretary-treasurer of the company.

To prepare for construction, four houses on Sherbrook Street and four on Furby Street were demolished.

June 27, 1964, Winnipeg Free Press

Architects Duncan Rattray Peters Searle's plan called for three distinct sections to the building.

The single storey commercial structure to the west allowed for businesses, including the hotel's restaurant, to be accessed directly from the street. It would also house most of the space for the 200 seat beverage room. The rooftop level had an outdoor pool, (now closed.)

The first business to move in was the Toronto Dominion Bank, which relocated from the south east corner of Sherbrook and Westminster in June 1965. Later that year, the Friar's Club Dining Room opened.

In the tower, the main floor housed the administrative area, a cocktail lounge (called the Guards' Room) and the entrance to the beverage room. The three upper floors of the hotel tower were designed to hold 14 double rooms per floor with more storeys that could be added at a later date. The basement level, (now closed), contained conference rooms, one called Saxon Hall.

To the east was the parking area. Now just a surface lot,it was envisioned as a multi-level parkade connected to the hotel by a walkway.

In June 1965 the hotel began advertising for staff, though I cannot find a notice of an official opening.

The hotel was open by August and was a typical neighbourhood motor hotel. It was home to numerous banquets, receptions, political nomination meetings and service club gatherings. The 100- seat Friar's Club restaurant (1965 - 1978) featured steak and ribs during the week and a Sunday smorg aimed at families. Bands played on Friday and Saturday nights.

In 1968 the American Automobile Association gave it an "excellent" rating, noting that it had 33 rooms that rented in the $15.00 per night range.

July 21, 1978, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1969 the hotel was purchased for $1.5 m by National Promotions, controlled by he Kives family of K-Tel fame. They also owned the Plaza Motor Inn (now called the Osborne Village Inn) and the Viscount Gort.

Hal Hooker went on to run the Pembina Hotel starting in 1971. In 1978 he became manager of the Granite Curling Club. I could find no mention of what happened to Dick.

ca. 1975

In 1969 the Wetminster hosted likely its most famous guest. Jim Pattison, Vancouver radio station owner and chair of the upstart conglomerate Neonex International, stayed here while scouting a possible purchase of CFRW which had gone bankrupt. (Source: Wpg Free Press, November 8, 1969, p. 27.)

In the decades to come Neonex grew into The Jim Pattison Group with annual sales of $7.3 b. Today, Forbes pegs Pattison's personal worth at $4.3 b, the fourth richest person in Canada.

ca. 1990

In 1978 the Kives' sold the hotel for $ 1.4 m citing that "it was a problem to run." The new owner was Ahmed Ali, an employee of the hotel and previous owner of the Hodgson Hotel in Hodgson, MB. The ownership is unclear from 1979 until the mid 1980s.

Around 1985 the hotel and its amenities got new names. The "Sherbrook Inn" was now home to The Brook restaurant and Classics bar. The new owner was Bill Bailly and family, also owners of the
former White Pine Inn in Fort Frances. Son Terry is the current owner.

The bank stayed until around until the late 1980s. In 1991 the retail space became home to Deno's Furniture Sales. In 1992 they applied for a pawn permit which, despite opposition from some on council and area residents, was eventually granted.

April 10, 1995, Winnipeg Free Press

At the start of the 1980s the neighbourhood began a downward spiral and the hotel's fortunes suffered. Though considered an unsafe place, research indicates that its bad reputation came more from neighbouring booze cans than anything that happened at the hotel itself. (More about that at tomorrow's West End Dumplings post !)

September 10, 2012 UPDATE:

I claimed that the hotel suffered more from a bad reputation than for the actual number of serious crimes that happened there. I dug back through the Free Press Archives between the mid 70s and late 00s using a number of search terms to compile a list and found it ws a fairly quiet place as far as hotels go.

There were a couple of serious incidents but for a number of others, the initial story of a crime committed "at the Sherbrook Inn" ended up happening elsewhere or with little to do with the hotel.

After doing hundreds of building histories, I still contend that this is a fairly tame compared to many places where alcohol is served.

February 2012 – Sherbrook Inn is one of three hotels robbed at gunpoint that night, believed to be related.

March 9, 2007 – Man found stabbed to death in back lane, Sherbrook Street near Sara Avenue. He had been drinking with friends earlier in the evening at Sherbrook Inn then left for somewhere else. While walking home got into an argument and was killed.

March 18, 1997 - Police receive a tip about a couple wanted for a biker gang murder in Montreal. They search the hotel and the man's SUV in the parking lot. An explosive device is found in the vehicle. The bomb squad removes it.

August 4, 1990 – Jouyce Ray was found dead "at the Sherbrook Inn." A couple were drinking earlier in the evening at the Sherbrook. When they returned home at 5 am they accused Joyce Ray, who was looking after their child, of pilfering a stash of hashish. She was badly beaten but escaped the apartment, found later that morning near the Sherbrook Hotel.

January 12, 1989 – Clifford Disbrowe was found stabbed “outside the Sherbrook Hotel.” Later stories say he was found at the intersection of Sherbrook Street and Westminster Avenue and, in the end, the stabbing took place outside the convenience store on the other corner. No apparent link to hotel.

February 1988 – A man was struck in the head in the beverage room, received a fractured skull.

May 1988 – Man held up at knifepoint for a six pack as leaving the vendor. His bike was stolen. An hour and a half later his assailants stabbed a man on Langside Street who was treated and released from hospital.

June 1988 - Two brothers from Cross Lake got in a fight in the Sherbrook Inn parking lot. One produced a gun but didn't fire.

November 11, 1987 – Russell Siska was stabbed to death by two men at 2:45 am "by the Sherbrook Hotel." it was actually Furby Street and Sarah Avenue. The man was drinking earlier with a woman at the Sherbrook Inn, they then left to go to a coffee shop. One of his two murderers had been thrown out of the bar earlier that morning.

March 27, 1986 - A man ejected from the hotel threatened two bouncers with a knife. he was arrested later for causing a disturbance at Club Morocco.

December 16, 1983 – Local drug dealer Roger “Cat” Myre was shot in the head while drinking in the beverage room of the Westminster Motor Inn. Myre had slashed the throat of his murderer a month earlier outside another hotel. The killer was also wanted for a Calgary murder.

April 26 1977 – Man holds up hotel with a gun but flees empty handed.

March 20, 1972 - Night manager of hotel is robbed at gunpoint as he leaves to make the night deposit.


  1. See above for a list of serious crimes that I could find at the hotel using about a dozen search terms at the Free Press archives. There were a couple of serious incidents but most things that happened "at the Sherbrook Inn", when you follow the story for a bit, didn't actually happen there.

    1. My brother Russell Siska was not drinking as he was a diabetic. He was at the bar and did walk out with someone he met there but unfortunately he was randomly chosen for a robbery that went bad.

  2. This is a great history compilation. I am fascinated that there used to be a pool on top of the bar. Just a small nitpick but the byline date on the construction is 1864 not 1964.

  3. Between the closing of the TD Bank and the opening of the pawn shop, there was a video rental store in that space. Perhaps for 2 years.

  4. i am currently living there on the third floor. yes the pool is still there. a bunch of the rooms have been renovated and look awesome! I renovated two adjoining rooms. i will try to send some pics. The hotel does have a seedy rep, but being there for some time it is for the most part unfounded. The staff are great, its just a few idiots who drink to much or whatever they are doing that cause this rep. Now that a new restaurant "The Tallest Poppy" has opened i have noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of people around and a change in the 'demographic"

  5. Is Son Terry still the current owner in 2023?