Gambling on Kindersley’s Seymour Hotel

Railway & Main

Joan Chase

When town lots went up for sale in Kindersley on Oct. 7, 1909, the Canadian Northern Railway realized sales of over $60,000 – the most expensive of which was a lot on the corner of Railway and Main – the lot for the Seymour Hotel. C. N. “Gusty” Vasser, began construction on the hotel that year, and by the spring of 1910 there was a fine looking, three-storey wooden structure standing on the street corner. The hotel had 44 rooms at $2 per day.

Charles C. Rogers, the former proprietor of the King Edward Hotel in Saskatoon, bought the Seymour Hotel in 1913 for $85,000 – an increase of $25,000 over the price paid for the hotel 10 months earlier. Rogers then hit a string of bad luck. On July 7, 1915, a week after Saskatchewan started Prohibition, an ad appeared in the Saskatoon Daily Star stating the furnishings of the Seymour Hotel would be auctioned off by the Town of Kindersley for taxes, including 60 “magnificent” bedroom suites, full dining room and kitchen contents, and three pool tables. In Oct. 1918, Rogers’ son Eska died, possibly from the terrible Spanish Flu that raged through the world that year.

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Rogers’ slogan for the Seymour Hotel was “The hotel for your wife, mother and family.” Perhaps Rogers was trying to protect that slogan when, in his version of events, he attempted to stop a crap game in the hotel in 1920 and got charged for his troubles. According to the Daily Star, one of the disgruntled crapshooters, owner of the Kindersley picture show, laid the charge against Rogers. The hotel owner was found guilty of permitting the use of his premises for a gambling game and sentenced to pay a fine of $500. Rogers’ health declined and he died in 1923.

Like all Saskatchewan businesses, Kindersley’s Seymour Hotel struggled through the Great Depression. Things looked hopeful when it was taken over in 1938 by Bill Moore, “whose genial personality and ambition to give a completely modern hotel service … makes it certain that the Seymour’s popularity is bound to continue on the upward grade,” the Star Phoenix wrote Aug. 6. The large hotel had 56 guest rooms, a large, attractive rotunda and a dining room “where menu, service and environment will meet the requirements of the most fastidious.” Mrs. Maud Stevenson was the proprietor of the Seymour in 1939.

In 1944, William Dobni purchased the Seymour Hotel. Originally from Austria, Dobni operated the hotel along with his wife Anna and their six sons until his death in 1955. After his death, Anna and her sons continued to run the hotel until 1975 when they sold the business. James Dobni settled into operating the Seymour Hotel after marrying his wife Shirley in 1951. “He loved the opportunity to meet new people that were passing through,” his obituary read in January 2008. James served on the Kindersley town council for many years, including as mayor.

Marvin and Pearl Gilbertson then bought the hotel in Kindersley and gave it a new name - the Prairie Trail Hotel. The Gilbertsons moved to Swift Current in 1981 where they bought the Imperial Hotel.

By 2011, the old Seymour Hotel – known as the Prairie Trail Hotel – was Kindersley’s oldest building. That year, a public health recommendation led to its demolition. The building had been closed for a couple of years and no longer deemed safe.

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