Fire at Old Strathcona Hotel under investigation
Traffic in the Strathcona neighbourhood was still disrupted Saturday after the Old Strathcona Hotel went up in flames Friday night.
Firefighters were called to the historic building on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue at 9:26 p.m.
Fire officials said the blaze was under control by 2 a.m. on Saturday, although they continued to put out hot spots throughout the late morning.
Early Saturday morning, the road was also reopened, and residents who had been evacuated were allowed to return.
The building has stood on Whyte Avenue since the 1890s but was recently closed and sold to Beljan Development, who is converting all three floors into restaurant and retail space.
The company said it was saddened and concerned about the damage caused by the fire, but thanked Edmonton firefighters for preventing further damage.
"While we are unsure of the extent of damage to the building, we remain committed to restoring this historic Edmonton landmark to the high standards that we set out to achieve," a Beljan statement read.
"We will work with all stakeholders to retain as much of the building as possible in order to ensure it remains a fixture in one of Edmonton’s premier historic neighbourhoods."
Edmonton historian Tony Cashman was a regular patron of the tavern in the 1950s.
"People felt very comfortable," Cashman recalled. "There are places where people just start talking—this is the kind of place."
Over its years, the building has served as hotel, a bar often filled with train passengers arriving at the neighbouring Canadian Pacific Railway station, and a women's business school.
"It will always represent the very beginning of the town," Cashman said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The neighbouring buildings to the north and west of the hotel had the greatest risk of damage and were evacuated Friday night. However, fire crews managed to contain the fire to the hotel.
With files from Regan Hasegawa