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Anachronism (Winnipeg’s First “Motel”)

submitted by Leonard A. Reid

Manitoba Pageant, Spring 1969, Volume 14, Number 3

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

Please direct inquiries to webmaster@mhs.mb.ca.

The word motel, a blend of MOtor and hoTEL, is a coined word of mid-20th century vintage. However, by one of those slips that pass in the night (the bane of the typesetter and proofreader), and surely not by intent, the word passed into print in a book printed in Winnipeg ninety years ago.

On page 40 of Ten Years In Winnipeg, the following entry appears:

About the 12th of August 1871, Mr. Ashdown removed into his store on Main Street, which is regarded as hardly central enough for trade.

Judge Johnson commenced investigation for Rebellion [Riel Uprising] losses, which resulted happily for some ... Dr. Schultz in particular.

A brother of Mr. Moberley, the present engineer of the South West Railway, had for some time been organizing and outfitting a Canadian Pacific exploring party to proceed to the Rocky Mountains and report on the best route for the C.P.R. A few friends assembled at the Queen’s Motel to give him a farewell dinner.

In submitting this oddity to Manitoba Pageant, Leonard A. Reid, 757 Grain Exchange, Winnipeg, points out that of all twenty-five letters in the alphabet other than H, (which should have been used), the compositor’s gremlin picked M - the one other letter which would make sense 80-odd years later.

Queen’s Hotel, 1884.

Incidentally, in the above picture, the hotel is designated simply “The Queen’s.” Is this an early Winnipeg huckster’s ploy to belittle the opposition houses? When The Queen’s was being built it was billed as: “The finest hotel in Manitoba, frontage 180 feet, built of white brick, three storeys high, with an iron roof, 50 bedrooms, three parlors, commodious offices, barber shop, bathrooms, billiard room, lecture hall, sample rooms for commercial men, all modern appliances, and the longest bar in the northwest, [it ran the entire length of the building, from the corner of Portage and Notre Dame to the corner of Portage and Main] and as the proprietors are old hotel men, there will be nothing wanting in its composition to make it a first-class house.”

Reference

Ten Years in Winnipeg - A Narrative of the Principal Events in the History of the City of Winnipeg from the year AD 1870 to the year AD 1879 inclusive by Alexander Begg and Walter R. Nursey; Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1879 - Times Printing and Publishing House.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Queen’s Hotel / Montgomery Block / Bank of Toronto / Toronto-Dominion Bank (215 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg)

Page revised: 28 May 2015

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