On Christmas Day in the morning our family went on a walk. The Royal Albert Hotel just begged to have its picture taken. Built in 1913 it was once a respectable hotel for business people visiting Winnipeg. The original owners were Angelo Ferrari and Patrick Grogan. When the Royal Albert was built it had 54 rooms, a buffet restaurant, a coffee shop and cigar shop.
A downturn in the economy and the outbreak of World War I forced the owners to turn the hotel into a rooming house.
The ice had made an intriguing trim on the roof of the sun porch on Christmas Day. The building has had an equally intriguing history. During the Winnipeg General strike in 1919 it housed a Labour Cafe where striking women could go for a free meal. In 1920 its manager was arrested for running a bawdy house. When prohibition ended in 1921 it housed a dance hall and bar. In 1930 the building was taken over by a brewery. In 1961 it was purchased by Gordon Hotels and renovated. They sold it in 1969 and in the 70’s it became a home for hippies, prostitutes, musicians and actors. During the 1980’s the hotel bar nurtured the music careers of legions of young Winnipeg bands and in the 1990’s hosted such bands as Nickelback and Green Day.
In the last year the hotel has been front and centre in the news because it was owned in part by a suspected crime figure who died suddenly. It was shut down because of a water main break and in November a man who appeared to be living in the hotel fell to his death from one of the windows even though the owner Daren Jorgenson said no one should be living there. According to a Winnipeg Free Press article, the building will be auctioned off in January of 2014.
For a detailed history check Winnipeg Downtown Places.
Other posts about Exchange District buildings……..