Radisson’s first and only hotel was built in 1905 on the corner of Railway Avenue and Main Street by Joseph and Ella Zimmerman. The couple had previous hotel experience. In 1901, Joseph worked as a bartender in Indian Head, Northwest Territories (now Saskatchewan). When the village of Radisson was founded in 1905 – the year the railroad arrived – the Zimmermans saw an opportunity. They moved their young and growing family to the town, located on Highway 16 between Saskatoon and North Battleford, and built the hotel. First called the Zimmerman Hotel, the hotel’s name changed to the Queen’s Hotel in 1906.
The original plans called for a two-storey building, however a third storey was added. It had a full and very solid stone basement. By 1911, the Zimmerman’s five children between the ages of 5 and 10 must have enjoyed living in the spacious hotel, with its large lobby on the main floor. On the second floor, hotel guests gathered in the parlour to enjoy the piano and the library, which was stocked with books donated by local residents. Thomas Craig, the hotel manager, set up a “sample room” for commercial travelers to display their wares to local business owners.
In 1915, Prohibition hit Saskatchewan, and the bar of the hotel was closed and converted for use by the provincial police. The beer cooler in the present-day hotel was once used as the town jail.
In 1922, the Zimmerman family sold the hotel to Tom Weeden. Several other owners followed. Walter and Sylvia Bronsch, who owned the Radisson Hotel from 1953 to 1968, made major renovations to the building, including the installation of water and sewer lines. At some point in the hotel’s history, the third storey was sealed off – probably to save on heating bills. In about 1965, mixed drinking was allowed in the hotel bar. To accommodate female patrons, the owners had the beverage room completely redesigned in a 1960s motif, calling it the Shadow Room. There is a photograph of the Shadow Room hanging in the bar.
The hotel was purchased by John and Eva Sebree in 1968. It came under the ownership of Lloyd Lahti in 1982.
I paid a visit to the Radisson Hotel in May 2006. It was all in the interest of research, but I did enjoy some refreshments in the bar! The owners gave me a tour, which started with the original stone foundations in the basement and ended with the guest rooms on the second floor. Unfortunately, the third floor was closed off and inaccessible.
Of the 14 guest rooms on the second floor, five had been renovated and were available for accommodation. There were sinks in each room and guests had to share one of two bathrooms, one with a shower and toilet, and the other with a tub and toilet.
The main floor of the Radisson Hotel featured a beverage room and the two-bedroom living quarters for the hotel operator. The bar, with a 57-seat capacity, had a rustic, western-style decor. Three VLTs were in a separate room off the beverage room. Entertainment in the bar included arcade games, Foos Ball, a jukebox, a billiard table, a karaoke machine and two television sets with satellite service.
Today, the old hotel at Radisson, located halfway between Saskatoon and North Battleford off Highway 16, is home to Elvera’s Bar.