|Fine dining at the Maple Leaf Hotel, Maple Creek, 1914. Glenbow Archives, NA-3811-75|
|Cecil Hotel dining room, Colgate, c. 1910. From Prairie Gold (1980)|
Other hotel cooks were more “home grown.” In 1923, Mrs. Mari Lewis was hired by the Vanstone family to operate the hotel dining room at Central Butte. Mrs. Lewis had spent three summers on cook cars preparing meals for threshing crews. She brought produce from the Lewis farm to help out with meals. “The turkeys came in very handy for the banquet we served to about 50 war veterans,” Mrs. Lewis’ daughter, Gertrude Lokier, recalled for the town history book. During the 1940s, on a typically busy morning at the Mont Nebo Hotel, Annette Taylor was up at 4 a.m. She baked 25 pies – eight lemon, eight raisin and nine apple. After serving breakfast she headed for the town butcher shop, where for a dollar she bought a good sized beef roast. “By nine a.m. the roast was in the oven,” Donna Kolchuck writes in the Mont Nebo history. “At noon the aroma of roast beef, gravy and mashed potatoes was prevalent.” Mrs. Buhler, cook at the Fairlight Hotel, was a favorite with the commercial travelers who stayed at the hotel. They called her “Ma” for they knew “that regardless of what time they arrived, Ma would get them something to eat.”
|Steak pit, Whitewood Hotel, 2006. Joan Champ photo|
One of the best kept secrets in Saskatchewan has to be the White Bear Hotel. People travel from miles around to the town of 13 for the extensive menu and unique décor. In the summer, visitors check out the flower gardens and fruit orchard where the White Bear Hotel grows its own pears and crabapples. In 2007, a visitor to the hotel wrote the following on his blog: “A big part of the reason we make the trip to the White Bear Hotel is the warm hospitality and good food at a reasonable cost. The couple [Wayne and Patricia Spence] who own and have run the hotel and restaurant for 29 years take pride in what they do and genuinely enjoy visiting with their patrons. What gets me is you would never expect to find good food like that in such an out of the way place. It seems to me this is why people travel to White Bear and patiently wait for 2 hours plus for their food. It is so charming and unexpected – one of those little surprises that make life interesting.” At the time of writing this post, the White Bear Hotel was for sale.
|White Bear Hotel, 2009. Photo courtesy of Ruth Bitner|
© Joan Champ, 2011
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