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Saturday, January 9, 2016

#33 - Sicamous Hotel, Sicamous, BC ... and WAR!

The subject of the front of this postcard is the Sicamous Hotel, located in Sicamous, British Columbia:

This wonderful, Tudor-style hotel replaced an earlier hotel that had been built in 1890 by the CPR, and had burned down in 1898.  The railway had been completed in 1885, and the CPR built hotels along the route to accommodate travellers (including such beauties as the Banff Springs Hotel, Hotel Vancouver, and Chateau Frontenac in Quebec city).  This more subdued Sicamous location was a jumping-off point for people to go fishing in the Shuswap or for tourists and produce coming and going from the Okanagan.  (Ah ... Victorian Era wealth!!  It strikes me that we are in a similar economic period now).

The replacement hotel was completed in 1900 when it looked like this:

(you'll note that this photo says it is provided by the RBCM Archives for research purposes only.  Since I get comments and information from these blogs, I consider them research - and I make no money on it unless someone chooses to freely give - which no one has yet to do.  So please do not reproduce this photograph - contact the BC Archives and discuss their policy with them).

In 1908, the hotel was remodelled to the state seen in the postcard.  Quite an amazing transformation, adding 1 to 2 more storeys onto the place!  One reader sent me the link to this film clip from 1949 that shows the hotel as it was at that time (and shows some pretty cool train footage):  The building was either burned or torn down (gasp!) in 1964.  Check out this site for a few more local photos.  Various sources provide different details about the life of the hotel.  The ones presented here made the most sense to me from what I've seen.

This spot is not too far from where I grew up in the Okanagan Valley, so it is particularly close to my heart.  Wish the hotel had survived.  I would have loved to check it out.

Here is where Sicamous is in British Columbia:

And here is a close-up look at Sicamous (not a large town with a population of only about 3,000 people).  The tan oval to the left is where I think the hotel used to stand.

I think that because of the mountains in the background from that spot on the highway.  Here is a look that (thank you Google StreetView):

See what I mean?  The mountains are the same.  And the hotel balanced precariously over the water on the side of the mountain.  

Here you can see its awkward positioning in the landscape.

The back of the postcard reads:  "Well How is everybody keeping we arrived in Sicamous at 7am, there is some nice views around here well I guess that is all just now breakfast is ready, will drop you another later on."  It is signed W. MC - which I presume to be William McCurrach, Jack's unmarried brother.  I cannot read the date on the postmark, only that it was 1914.  My assumption here is that this postcard was sent home from Sicamous while William was on his way to war - they would take the train across country and then set sail from Quebec City.  

William signed up immediately at the beginning of the war war with the Seaforth Highlanders.  His first pay was on August 10, 1914 - since Britain declared war on August 4, this indicates he signed up immediately.  He would have trained at Valcartier near Quebec - one of about 36,000 men who went to the camp.  His unit set sail on October 3 - his was the first contingent to set sail (see this page or this page for more information) at a total of 31,000 men (some had been weeded out for various reasons).  Jack would not be allowed to sign up until 1916.

By this time as well, Jack and Nellie had a house at 1460 36th Avenue E in Vancouver (which seems to have been consumed by a large park).  And by this time, if it is October 1914, my grandmother, Gladys Masson McCurrach, was an infant (born in July, 1914).  


  1. Your location for the hotel is pretty close. Maybe a little bit more East, but not much. I used to walk by and play around the old foundations as a kid. I grew up in a house on what is known as C.P.R. Hill, and my Father still lives there. He has a few pictures of the old hotel. Great to see someone else writing about it.

    1. Was a great place to climb and suntan on the large cement slab remains. Good memories from cpr hill.




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