Hotel Wynyard: ‘A City Hotel in a Country Town’

Railway & Main

Joan Chase

J. O. Lewis must have had considerable confidence in the future of the hotel business in Wynyard when, in 1925, he built a three-storey brick hotel on the southwest corner of Bosworth Street and Avenue B East at a cost of $40,000. Prohibition had just ended in Saskatchewan the year before, so perhaps Lewis hoped to open a drinking establishment in the new Hotel Wynyard.

Lewis, who also owned a hotel in Wadena, opened Wynyard’s 30-room hotel in 1926, but quickly put the business up for sale or lease. No buyers stepped forward, so from 1931 to 1935, Lewis rented the Hotel Wynyard to a Mrs. Allingham.

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Controversy arose when the Government of Saskatchewan allowed hotels to sell beer by the glass. The new legislation, passed on Jan. 22, 1935, also allowed communities to vote on whether they wanted a beer parlour in their local hotel. Temperance supporters in Wynyard circulated a petition in early April opposing the issue. Lewis promptly closed his hotel. His action so aroused the businessmen of Wynyard that, on May 7, 1935, more than 30 of them met to pass a resolution calling upon Mr. Lewis to reopen the hotel. “It was pointed out,” the Star-Phoenix reported on May 8, “that Mr. Lewis had erected a hotel here which was an asset to the community in every respect and that he merited the support of the people.” The businessmen met with Lewis who agreed that “if the businessmen would circulate a petition among the citizens pledging their support and cooperation,” the hotel would be reopened for business. He opened it the next day, and four months later, opened a beer parlour.

“Many thirsts were allayed Friday when the new beer parlor in the Hotel Wynyard was formally opened,” the Star-Phoenix reported on Sept. 10, 1935. “From Bosworth Street a double door and inlaid tile entrance greets the eye, while inside there is a spacious room with lofty ceiling and beautiful inlaid linoleum.” Lewis, encouraged by the support of Wynyard business community, had enlarged the hotel, adding seven more rooms plus the beer parlour at a cost of $10,000.

In 1940, the Hotel Wynyard passed under Mr. Lewis’ estate to his daughter, Mrs. M.B. Grieve. From that time until 1953 the Grieves owned and operated the business as Hotel Lewis. A heated labour dispute arose in 1940 between employers and employees in the hotel and restaurant business in Wynyard. A negotiating meeting was held in March at which it was revealed that some employees were required to work 70 hours per week, while the lowest rate of pay was less than $3 per week and the highest less than $6. “Employees of the Wynyard Hotel objected to living conditions,” the Star-Phoenix further reported on April 18, “claiming that the staff quarters in the hotel, located in the basement, were not suitable.” In September 1940, the provisions of Saskatchewan’s Minimum Wage Act were applied to several towns, including Wynyard.

In 1953, Walter Thorfinnson purchased the property and managed it under the name Artwal Hotel until 1960. Subsequent owners included John Hawryluk, who changed the name back to the Hotel Wynyard, Mrs. Adeline Ryhorchuk and the Szydlowski family.

In 2010, Richard Szydlowski advertised that the Wynyard Hotel was for sale. The hotel featured: a licensed beverage room with a 157-person capacity; major renovations to main floor completed in 2005; 12 guest rooms on the second floor, with a common full bath; and a two-bedroom living quarters with suite on the third floor, plus more guest rooms. Today, visitors to Wynyard, located between Yorkton and Saskatoon on Hwy 16, can stop for a brew at the hotel’s Wrecking Bar & Grill.

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