“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared September 14, 2004.
King Edward Hotel
438 9th Ave. S.E.
• The hotel, built in 1904 by Louis Charlebois, joined dozens of other hotels on Atlantic Avenue, also known as "Whisky Row." A five-storey addition was added in 1907 to the original three-storey hotel for 105 rooms and a restaurant seating 40 people. Charlebois, a noted local hotelier, gave up managing in 1911, but his estate and wife retained possession until 1938.
The hotel suffered during Prohibition, when charges were laid for violation of liquor laws and running a "disorderly" house. Former manager Homer Meers eventually bought the hotel in 1946 and owned it until 1962. Renovated and managed under his watchful eye, it became known as a "Poor Man's Club."
• The King Eddy, Calgary's oldest continuously operating hotel, is the last of the "Whisky Row" hotels. Known for blues acts since the 1960s, it was turned by owner Jack Karp into an authentic blues club in the 1980s by hosting such legendary performers as Clarence (Gatemouth) Brown and Jeff Healey. The city bought it in 2001 for $650,000, originally intending to demolish it for a railway underpass. Changing plans led to it being leased by Brenjack Holdings.
Hopes to promote the blues bar and renovate rooms for low-cost housing were dashed when an environmental assessment discovered asbestos and toxic mould. Declared a health hazard, it was evacuated in August.
Its fate remains undecided.