Tuesday, April 12, 2016

611 Archibald Street - The Chalet Hotel

Place: Chalet Hotel
Address: 611 Archibald Street at Marion (Map)
Opened: May 30, 1964 (1913 as Stock Yard Hotel)
Architect: Unknown

March 8, 1913, Winnipeg Tribune

The intersection of Marion and Archibald has been home to a hotel for over a century.

In 1912 - 13, Albert and George Vivian opened the Stock Yard Hotel, (later the Stock Yards Hotel), at 571 Marion Street on the edge of St. Boniface's industrial zone. It was mainly a residential hotel catering to the hundreds of men who worked in the various abattoirs, railroad facilities and meat plants in the vicinity.

In the late 19-teens the hotel was owned by W. H. Barry who also owned the original Royal Oak hotel.  

July 19, 1920, Winnipeg Hotel

In late 1919, Andy Anderson purchased it and spent a few weeks renovating it before reopening.

The Stock Yards was well known for breaking the province’s temperance and gambling acts and was raided numerous times by provincial police through the 19-teens and early 1920s for infractions such as serving liquor and hosting craps games. This sometimes led to its liquor licence and / or hotel licence being pulled.

This is the situation that Anderson found himself in, though he kept on operating for a time without these licences which just got him in more trouble. While under arrest, the bailiffs moved in and seized the building.

November 11, 1920, Winnipeg Tribune

Due to its location and size, the little-known hotel on the edge of St. Boniface was rarely mentioned in the Winnipeg newspapers of the day. That all changed on November 11, 1920, the bloodiest day in Manitoba policing history.

That morning, five officers from the morals squad of the Manitoba Provincial Police conducted yet another raid on the premises. Three unarmed officers were shot by at point blank range by a guest in an upstairs room. Constable Alex McCurdy died the next morning, while Constable James Uttley survived for five days before succumbing to his injuries. The third officer, John Dineen, was seriously injured but did recover.

The investigation, manhunt, arrest and trial of the shooter played out in the papers for years. (To read more about the raid, see this Winnipeg Police Museum post and Winnipeg Real Estate News.)

In April 1921, the hotel was sold to J. MacLean of Winnipeg who combined its 30 or so rooms into 22 suites to better serve residential guests. He even contemplated turning into into an apartment block as he knew getting a liquor licence wold be difficult.

In 1923, the province did grant a liquor permit over the wishes of St. Boniface's city council. The bar space reopened as the Piccadilly Club which got off to a notorious start by being raided for liquor infractions eleven times in six months. By 1925, it was closed and the hotel property remained vacant for years.

May 24, 1930, Winnipeg Free Press

In January 1928, it was announced a new owner had bought the property and would invest $10,000 in extensive renovations and a new name: the Hotel Transit / Transit Hotel. There was also an adjoining service station of the same name.

The Transit billed itself as "St. Boniface's Finest Hotel" complete with a dance floor and its own orchestra. It became the site of numerous banquets, conferences and the long-time home of the St. Boniface Kiwanis Club and the Norwood Baseball Club.

Florence McGirr

Through the 1930s it was owned by the J. E. McGirr family, who also lived on the premises. They had previous hotel experience with the Sherman Hotel on Market Street and the Market Hotel on Princess Street in late 1920s.

The McGirr's appeared to have strengthened the hotel's reputation as a reputable, welcoming place in the community.

Tragedy struck in April 1934 when three masked gunmen raided the hotel looking for money. They tied up staff and began going through rooms when things went awry.

A staff member and a resident got loose and grappled with the men. Shots were fired, one bullet grazing the throat of Florence McGirr, wife of J. E. McGirr. Another staff member sustained a broken foot and one of the gunmen was also shot when his gun was taken from him by a resident.

In the end, the bandits made off with only $20.

January 1, 1948, Winnipeg Tribune

In the 1940s it was owned by M. Sparrow and son, who also operated the Yale Hotel in Winnipeg.

The hotel remained in the Sparrow family until 1962. During their tenure the parking lot across the street was added to the property.

May 29, 1964, Winnipeg Free Press

The Gordon Hotel chain purchased the Transit Hotel in 1962 and the following November announced that it would redevelop the land beside and behind the hotel with a one-storey building that included a 300-seat beverage room with full basement and a two storey, 22-room hotel.

It is likely that the two buildings were built in stages, allowing the old Transit to remain in operation until the new building were completed.

The new hotel opened on May 30, 1964 with a new address of 611 Archibald Street and a new name: the Chalet Gordon Hotel. The Chalet remained part of the Gordon chain until 1981.

November 21, 1983, Winnipeg Free Press

The Chalet is most famous for Teaser's Burlesque Club. Teaser's began life at another St. Boniface hotel, the Tourist on Provencher Boulevard. In 1987, the city purchased the Tourist to extend the Tache Promenade and build a new library branch.

The Tourist's owner, Jim Major, then purchased the Chalet and moved Teaser's to the basement. He initially kept the 300-seat beverage room on the main floor as a live music venue.

The Chalet Hotel was to have gone on the block in a mortgage sale in mid-April 2016. That sale has since been cancelled / postponed.

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