Fire at Young’s Century-Old Hotel in 2011

Railway & Main

Joan Chase

In the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 2011, two sisters, ages 10 and 12, snuck out of their parents’ home and huddled in the front porch of the old, unoccupied hotel at Young. They lit some papers on fire to keep warm. When they returned home, the girls left the fire unattended.

Sometime around 2:30 a.m., volunteer firefighters were called to a blaze at the 100-year-old Young Hotel. Within an hour of their arrival, flames had completely consumed the building. Young is located 100 km southeast of Saskatoon on Highway 2.

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The older sister was charged with mischief and was dealt with through the Youth Alternative Measures Program, the RCMP told the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix on Nov. 18. The 10-year-old was too young to be charged. Both girls apologized for their actions.

The Young Hotel, formerly called the Manitou Hotel, was built in 1910 by Thomas Murphy. In 1911, Robert Barry bought the hotel and made extensive alterations. The following year, Barry built the Barry Hotel on the corner of Avenue B and 20th Street in Saskatoon.

In 1918, the Manitou Hotel was sold to Fred and Katheryne Harpold. Katheryne passed away a few months later, on Nov. 22, 1918, during the Spanish Flu epidemic. Fred remarried a few years later. After selling the hotel, the Harpolds moved to Melfort and then, in 1936, to Crooked River where they were again in the hotel business.

Mr. Feader owned the Manitou Hotel from 1923 to 1927. Under Feader’s management, according to the Young local history book Footsteps to Follow (1981), the hotel was recognized as one of the best hotels between Saskatoon and Melville. “It was quiet and a homelike place,” the history book states. “Large sample rooms in the annex of the hotel were at the disposal of travelers.”

From 1927 until 1946, the Manitou Hotel in Young was owned by Charles Jimsie and George Kaw. In 1935, a beer parlour opened in the hotel, replacing the restaurant and ice cream parlour. In 1946, Otto Renner and his son bought the hotel and, in 1951, opened the New Manitou Café in a new addition to the hotel.

Joseph and Katherine Fornalik of Prince Albert bought out Renner in 1955. Their daughter, Patricia Button (nee Fornalik) recalls in Footsteps to Follow: “When our family lived in the hotel, it had a verandah and a balcony on the second floor at the front, recalls Patricia (Fornalik) Button in Footsteps to Follow.

When mixed drinking was allowed in Saskatchewan in 1961, Earl Nicklas bought the Manitou Hotel, turning the beer parlour into a beverage room.

Joe and Doreen Freyling owned the Young Hotel for 27 years, from 1981 to 2008. “We enjoyed our time there,” Freyling told the StarPhoenix the day after the 2011 fire. “It was a booming place when we bought it. It was a young crowd who'd come out and party at the bar and we’d get right in there too.”  During the years the Freylings owned it, the hotel had a 100-seat bar, a 27-seat dining room, a living quarters for the owner, and seven non-modern guest rooms.

Giselle Begrand, who had owned the Young Hotel for three years up to the 2011 fire, was devastated by the loss. “My three kids and I put in our blood, sweat and tears for as long as we could manage here, so everything we owned and everything that we had was put into this,” Begrand told CBC News. The hotel had been closed in March and Begrand was just weeks away from selling the hotel when it burned down. Damage was estimated at $200,000. Begrand had no fire insurance.

The people of Young were saddened by the loss of the hotel, which they had used as a meeting place. “In a place that’s small like Young, when you lose your bar and your restaurant, a sense of community starts to be lost as well,” Darcie Hellman, a former resident of the village, told the CBC. “When the people don’t have a place to get together, you start to feel less like a town, right? It’s just really sad.”

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