Sunday, March 12, 2017

A History of the Cadboro Bay and Cadboro Beach Hotel

Cadboro Bay Hotel, (1912-13)
[Cadboro Bay Hotel Company, 1912-1914]

Cadboro Beach Hotel, (1920-31)
[Stuart & Francis M. Armour, 1920-23]
[Frank & Honor Mann, 1924-1929]
[Mrs. Ruttan Hale, 1929-1931]

Saanich, BC

Cadboro Bay Hotel (BCA #G6911)


     In the years leading up to the Great War, Victoria was experiencing a building and real estate boom. The lovely green rolling hills of the Cadboro Bay region of Saanich with its sandy beach and location near to the Uplands Golf course proved to be a great draw to prospective house buyers and it was here that the newly formed Cadboro Bay Hotel Company invested in a summer resort. Plans were drawn up for a modest sized hotel and building began in early 1912. This article will trace the history of the Cadboro Bay Hotel from its beginnings through its short history and through its new years as the Cadboro Beach Hotel up to its destruction on that fateful day in August 1931. 
     Cadboro Bay is a quiet and scenic area approximately five miles northeast of downtown Victoria with a view of the Gulf Islands and Mount Baker. This was the setting for the new Cadboro Bay Hotel, a summer resort built by the Cadboro Bay Hotel Company Limited which opened in August 1912. On November 10, 1912 the licensing board set a future date to meet to consider a liquor license for the new hotel, in the meantime a temporary license was issued. In the meantime the hotel was closed for the season with great expectations for a booming business when they opened next spring.
     But the new owners’ hopes for a bright future for their new 30-room hotel were quickly dashed when the licensing commission turned down their application for a liquor license. Undaunted, the Cadboro Bay Hotel Company (CBHC) decided to continue on and open their hotel for the season, but new problems arose. Mayward & Dods, one of the contractors that built the hotel complained that they were not paid in full and sued for breach of contract. At issue was a matter of $3,113.42 claimed owing for work completed on the heating plant. Subsequently, CBHC counter-sued claiming that the work was not finished and that the water system for most of the rooms was,
“faulty and imperfect.” By March 11, 1913 the ill fated hotel was up for sale by Pemberton & Son, “For Sale – the Cadboro Bay Hotel and over one acre of waterfront property. The building is new and offers 30 bedrooms and all the necessary rooms with plumbing, electric lights and more. The building is situated in one of the prettiest districts anywhere near Victoria, just across the bay from the Uplands – terms will be arranged to suit.”
     While the hotel was up for sale, the rooms remained closed but the ballroom was rented out for dances. The dances proved very popular as different organizations and clubs took advantage of the new and spacious dance floor. The hotel sat empty for years but that cost was offset by revenue collected from regular Tuesday night and weekend dances that kept the place viable right up until it was finally purchased in February 1920.  

     Stuart and Francis Armour purchased the hotel and immediately got down to work cleaning and repairing. They also changed the name of the hotel to the Cadboro Beach Hotel, which made sense as the beach was a huge draw in the summertime. The Armour's decided to run the hotel on a seasonal basis and wisely kept the ballroom open all year round and continue with the dances. This formula kept the hotel solvent until the next season when tourists would again return to rent their favourite room.The new owners did not live in the hotel but bought a house nearby called, “The Haven.” The Armour's had vast experience in the hotel business having recently come from working in the hotel department of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Together they have many years experience operating the largest hotels across Canada under the C.P.R. banner.

     The newly renovated Cadboro Beach Hotel officially opened for the season on April 25, 1920. The hotel had a capacity for seventy-five guests and the dining room and lounge each offered the warmth from a large stone fireplace. Every room came with a lovely view overlooking the bay. Imagine having a tea or a smoke on the large hotel veranda while watching the children play on the beach or during a warm summer night enjoying the moonlight as its reflective glow draws across the bay making the water dance and sparkle. The opening was announced earlier in the day in the Victoria Colonist, "Cadboro Beach Hotel Opens Today; Afternoon teas, soda fountain, ice cream, sundaes, etc ~ lunch $1.25, dinner $1.50...Stuart and Frances M. Armour, Managers, formally with the Hotel Department of the Canadian Pacific Railroad."

     A bus departed from Terry's Restaurant, corner of Fort and Douglas streets en route to Cadboro Bay twice daily, at 11 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon during the summer season. Angus Campbell and Company held their staff picnic at the Cadboro Beach Hotel in the summer of 1921. Two of their employees were getting married that day at the hotel and it was quite a sight as onlookers watched a Tally-Ho caravan filled with the staff winding its way from town followed by the happy couple in a tastefully decorated automobile decorated appropriately for the occasion complete with a string of clattering tin cans trailing behind.

     The following few years were productive for the hotel, while it was not yet showing a profit, it was slowly climbing out of debt and it wouldn't be long until their financial position improved. Unfortunately as the 1923 season at the Cadboro Beach Hotel was coming to an end, Mr Armour died. On September 2, 1923 Stuart Armour died suddenly. He was 57 years old. The shocked and grieving Mrs Armour, with the aid of her sister Peggy Ewing, closed the hotel for the season and in November took a trip back to Charleston, South Carolina where they had relatives. They planned to come back in May 1924 in time to open the hotel for the summer season. But Mrs Armour had second thoughts and by January 1924 the Cadboro Beach Hotel went up for sale, this time it sold quickly to a local Victoria baker, Mr. Frank Mann.
     Mr Frank Mann came from England and had been a resident of Victoria since 1911. During the Great War, Mann was chef at Work Point Barracks, subsequently going overseas with the 143rd Battalion, the British Columbia Bantams. Frank Mann returned to Victoria at the end of the war with his ‘war bride,’ Mrs. Honor Mann and went into the bakery business for the past eight years, with two shops in Victoria – one on Fort street and the new shop on Yates street. Frank Mann was no stranger to the hotel business having managed the Savira Lodge at Shawnigan Lake since 1921. While Frank and Honor Mann settled into their new duties as owners of the Cadboro Beach Hotel, Mrs. Armour went to work for her sister Mrs Ewing, who had just purchased the Old Charming Inn in Oak Bay.

     An interesting note about the hotel, in 1927 the Shawnigan Lake Private school burned down and the gracious Mr and Mrs Mann provided their hotel as a temporary school in the off-season until a new school was completed at Shawnigan Lake.

1929 advertisement in the Colonist

     The Mann's operated the hotel for five seasons but by July 1929 they sold it for a considerable profit to Mrs Ida C. Hale. Hale was an experienced manageress who for the past thirteen years had owned and operated the Empress Hotel in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Mrs Hale invested a great amount of money in updating the hotel and consequently the summer season of 1930 had her looking her best. The hotel was more popular than ever with out of town tourists and locals alike, in spite of the early months of the on set of the great depression. But the good times were short lived.

     The first full season for Mrs Hale operating her new hotel began in May 1931. In spite the low numbers of tourists, possibly due to the deepening world wide depression, Hale was optimistic that the hotel would have a good season and turn a profit. Those hopes ended when on August 18, 1931 the roof of the hotel caught on fire. The fire quickly spread as the guests ran for their lives. But in spite some heroics as volunteers rushed into the burning building to try and recover valuables and guests' items, the $40,000 hotel was a total loss. Fortunately no one was killed or injured in the blaze. Mrs. Hale lost her hotel but recovered a portion of its' worth through her insurance. The people of Greater Victoria and the loyal out of town patrons of the Cadboro Beach Hotel lost a lovely hostelry by the sea.

Cadboro Beach Hotel, just before it was destroyed by fire.