Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The Grange Hotel in Carmangay, Alta. was destroyed in a fire on March 28, 2021.

Carmangay Historical Society/Handout

The Grange Hotel’s Christmas dinner in 1910 started with celery and salted almonds. Then came oyster soup and lobster salad. There was fried salmon, sugar cured ham with Champagne sauce, chicken tarts, cream puffs, prime rib of beef, roast milk pig, spring turkey and cream sauce, and spring goose with apple sauce.

Peter McNaughton opened the Grange in Carmangay, Alta., a year prior, and his 1910 holiday menu sported fancy Gothic script and a poem. He later sold the joint and come Prohibition, a local paper lamented how things could have been different if only others emulated the elegance of the Grange’s early days.

“It has always been conducted in a first-class manner and has been a credit to the town and if all the hotels in the province had been conducted along the same lines there would not have been as much agitation for Prohibition,” a newspaper clip, dated June 30, 1916, says. The bar closed that night, according to the unidentified newspaper, but the then-owner vowed to keep the hotel open and up to its “present high standard.”

Story continues below advertisement

The Grange, at the corner of Carmen Street and Pacific Avenue, survived Prohibition and established itself as a small-town icon. Back in the day, it advertised its steam-heated rooms. When the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, which commemorates the First World War, opened in France in the summer of 1936, people gathered at the Grange to listen to the ceremonies over the radio. Locals tell stories of visitors riding their horses to – and in – the bar. One regular leg-wrestled for nickels, keeping his winnings stashed in the bar. And for 37 years, the Grange has been the end-point of Carmangay’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, which starts a block away. Carmangay brags about hosting the world’s shortest parade.

Now the Grange is gone. The two-storey wooden building burned down in the early hours of March 28, ending its 111-year run as Carmangay’s centrepiece.

The Grange Hotel in Carmangay was a local institution in the town of 242 people for 111 years.

Carmangay Historical Society/Handout

While the Grange is specific to Carmangay – population: 242 – the idea of an old hotel serving as a local institution is familiar in small towns across Western Canada. Some, like the Grange, have actual names. Others are known just as “the bar” or “the hotel,” regardless of whether rooms are available for rent. You know who is there by the vehicles parked outside.

Sue Dahl worked at the Grange for 24 years, most recently as bar manager. Her uncle, Jim O’Conner, once owned the Grange and founded the St. Patrick’s Day parade. She is also the district fire chief, and was on the scene as the building burned.

“It was gut-wrenching,” Ms. Dahl said. “The Grange is the meeting place for everybody.

“There’s a big gaping hole there. You look there and it is missing.”

No one was injured and the cause of the fire is under investigation, she said. Wind fuelled the blaze, blunting efforts to save the yellow building. The bistro next door had smoke damage; siding melted on the nearby library; and across the street, firefighters stopped embers from engulfing another historical building. Volunteers drove around town making sure embers – especially those from the tarry roof – did not spark more fires. An unrelated wildfire forced Carmangay residents to evacuate later that afternoon.

Story continues below advertisement

Crystal Eichelbaum grew up in Carmangay and celebrated her 18th birthday at the Grange. She worked at the bar around 2003 and after moving away, she would bring friends from other towns to the bar for the experience.

“It was kind of like this old dive bar, but you walked in and it made you feel like family,” Ms. Eichelbaum said.

Collin Greene grew up on a farm outside of Carmangay. When he was a kid, his grandfather ran Hubka’s Sales and Service, a garage across the street from the Grange. Mr. Greene’s grandfather used to get him out of his hair by telling the youngster to sit in a swivel chair. From there, Mr. Greene would watch the comings and goings at the Grange. When he was older, his favourite drink at the Grange was Lethbridge Pilsner. He left town decades ago, but news of the Grange’s demise stung.

“I felt like it was a part of my childhood destroyed,” said Mr. Greene, 66. “It is forever gone.”

Todd McFarland is part of the Carmangay Historical Society, which posted a photo of the Grange’s 1910 Christmas menu and other historical tidbits online after the fire. The Grange, he said, once represented hope and optimism of the West. But the hotel part had been shuttered to guests for years and the Grange was showing its age.

“It was beyond its best days,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies