Commercial Hotel celebrates 100th birthday
Published Sunday, July 8, 2012 6:15PM MDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 8, 2012 6:29PM MDT
It was a celebration of the century, as a building in Old Strathcona marked its 100th birthday Sunday.
The Commercial Hotel has stood on Whyte Avenue for a century and its all-day birthday party closed off Whyte Avenue from 103 Street to 104 Street Sunday, as customers spanning generations gathered to celebrate the milestone.
While the hotel has gone through a number of different owners, the business is still a family affair.
Generations of owners reminisced on the centuries-old business during Sunday's celebrations.
“We bought the place in 1971,” said co-owner Herb Ortlieb.
Ortlieb wasn’t the first to own the Commercial Hotel but he says it’s been his labour of love.
“I came in as a total greenhorn,” Ortlieb said.
“I never had anything to do with the hotel business.”
At the time, Ortlieb bought the business with another couple and now, that couple’s children have now taken over.
“My brother and I are second generation,” said co-owner Deanna Woloschuk, who became a co-owner in 2007.
“It was our parents that were with Herb that originally brought it in.”
Woloschuk and her brother David have spent decades working at the hotel and remember spending their summers working in the building.
“As a high school kid working here in the summer, at the front desk because that was the only place I could get, I wasn’t old enough to get in the bar,” Woloschuk said.
Eventually she did get into the bar, and watched as it changed over the years – from only serving beer, to being a venue for live bands.
“We got the music in the mid-80s and then it attracted different people,” Woloschuk said.
“So that was very interesting… I love the hotel business. I’ve grown up with the hotel business.”
Bessie Goldstick’s late husband owned the hotel at one point in its 100-year history and she says it’s great to see how the building has improved over the years.
“It’s incredible,” Goldstick said.
“I can’t believe what has happened in the years that have transpired. It’s unbelievable, the space, how they’ve improved it. They’ve done an absolutely incredible job.”
Customers celebrating the birthday said it’s the people and the music that keep them coming back.
“You can always go and have a good time,” said Sage McCue, a long-time customer.
“It has a good mix of people.”
And the feeling is mutual for the people behind the business.
“There’s lots of experiences, lots of stories, lots of interesting things to watch,” said Woloshuk.
“I’ve seen a lot of people that have come through, entertainers that have come through. It’s very interesting.”
With files from Julia Parrish