The fancy letterhead shows an artist's rendition of Hotel Yorkton at #14 Second Avenue North in 1910. The hotel built in 1902 by James Lee of Winnipeg appears to have been erected with the intent of making it a more elaborate structure than the two already in existence, the Royal and the Balmoral hotels, both on North Front Street, now Livingstone Street. The older hotels faced the railway yards — a site coveted by early businessmen. A few years later, many businesses shied away from railway traffic, noise, soot, ashes and smoke, and so sought property at least one block away. The name — in the French word order Hotel Yorkton, in lieu of Yorkton Hotel, was also indicative of the intent to make it a more grand place in the similar class as some of the C.P.R. hotels, such as the "Hotel Saskatchewan" in Regina for example.
The hotel does have a different history than the Balmoral Hotel did. In the early 1900s, the Bronfman brothers, Abe and Harry, proprietors of the Balmoral almost lost their liquor licence due to charges of serving liquor in Sundays. No such record was found against the Hotel Yorkton. The Balmoral Hotel was also known to hold big time poker games, while there are no reports of the same at the Hotel Yorkton. (If there were colourful incidents there, and there probably were, they are not recorded or we have not found them yet). There were rumours of underground tunnels running from the hotel to the Balmoral and/or to the CPR freight sheds during the prohibition years (1915-1924). A visit to the basement a number of years ago, did not reveal any signs of cemented in doorways or changes in the south wall. I am a lover of folklore, but reason tells me that digging tunnels from Second Avenue to the freight sheds would have been a major project that no one could keep secret. Bronfman brothers, Harry and Sam only purchased the Hotel Yorkton in 1927, when they resided in Montreal. They leased it to their friend Frank Brunner, whose son Frank Jr. bought it in 1945.
Contact Terri Lefebvre Prince,
City of Yorkton, Box 400, 37 Third Avenue North
Yorkton, Sask. S3N 2W3