Cariboo Hotel is an important two storey landmark building constructed in 1916 located on the east side Front Street in Downtown Quesnel, BC. The place includes the building and the parcel of land it occupies.
Cariboo Hotel is located in Downtown Quesnel which is the commercial and administrative center of the city. Over the years, major renovations have occurred, however the building supports the other commercial businesses on the street that have experienced change. While not in its original form, the building is a physical reminder of the people and events that shaped the development of Quesnel. Hotels were the social centers of Quesnel and considered important places of business. Local people used the saloon, dining room, dance hall, display rooms, and the lavish bedrooms on many occasions.
James Kerr and Dan Duhig were the owners of the original building that was first used as a brewery and saloon. Dan was involved in the community and was a school trustee of the first school in Quesnel. When Dan was found dead in 1878, James sold the business. Mrs. McLaughlin purchased the building and renamed it the Cariboo Hotel.
Archibald McNaughton purchased the hotel from Mrs. McLaughlin in 1887. Archie was an educated man with a democratic sense. From 1863 to 1884, he held the position of Land Assessor and Collector for the District of the Cariboo. In 1887, Archie was the postmaster of Quesnel and the manager of the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1894, Archie became paralyzed. He resigned from the Hudson’s Bay Company but kept the postmaster position with the assistance of his second wife. Archie wrote Overland to Cariboo which was published in 1896. He died in 1900 and is buried in the Quesnel Pioneer Cemetery. The McNaughton family is recognized for their contribution to the development of the community with a street named in their honour.
In 1910, two enterprising pioneers, John Strand and Telesphore Marion, purchased the land and building. Unfortunately, his business was one of the eight buildings on Front Street that was destroyed in the fire of 1916. The fire broke out around midnight in the Empress Theatre located in the Cariboo Hotel.
John Strand was a well-known contractor and carpenter who built many of Quesnel’s buildings. He was born in 1868 in Norway and came to the Cariboo via San Francisco in 1892 during the Gold Rush. Not only did John reconstruct the hotel, he built the first hospital in Quesnel, a Catholic church, and a steam sternwheeler named ‘The Quesnel’ for Telesphore Marion. In addition to his construction business, John was also a fur trader along the Mackenzie River, the weather recorder for the Dominion Government for forty-four years, and he owned mining rights on Lovett Creek and Beaver Pass. The northeast corner of Carson Avenue and Front Street has a small park named for John Strand.
Telesphore Marion was known locally as ‘Tom’. He was born in 1861 in Quebec and came to Quesnel to work for the Boyd family at ‘Cottonwood House’. Tom later opened a store on Front Street appropriately called ‘Marion’s Store’. The store traded with miners and trappers. Gold was sent to the Bank of Montreal in Vancouver and the furs were shipped to England. Tom’s business grew and the store expanded to include four warehouses, for gas and coal oil, furs, flour and sugar, and general merchandise. The store had a dirt cellar to keep the perishables from spoiling. His store was in direct competition with the Hudson’s Bay Company on Carson Avenue. Tom’s store was not consumed in the fire of 1916 and he was able to continue doing business virtually uninterrupted. Tom retired in 1919 and went back to Quebec only to return a year later because he missed his friends and the community. Tom died in 1943 at the age of 83.
In 1920, William D. Pearson and his wife Clara moved to Quesnel where they bought a butcher shop and the Cariboo Hotel. William added a basement for additional rooms in 1925 and a beer parlour in 1933 to compete with the Quesnel Hotel. William and Clara were described as a hardworking couple. They installed an engine and lights at the hotel in 1927 and sold electricity to businessmen in the area until David Grierson’s power plant started in the 1930s. The hotel featured indoor mini golf in the 1930s as one of its many amenities. The building was sold again in the late 1930s to G. Earl Malcolm.
Earl Malcolm owned and operated the modern Northern Dairy Products with F. D. Thompson. The year round operation pasteurized milk, had compressors and mechanical bottle washers, as well as cooling rooms. The company supplied milk, cream, cottage cheese, and buttermilk to the region. The dairy was sold when Earl purchased the Cariboo Hotel. The Malcolm family is recognized for their contribution to the development of the community with a street named in their honour.
The character-defining elements of the Cariboo Hotel include:
- its original form and characteristics since its reconstruction in 1916 are still evident even though major renovations have occurred since 1936;
- a fine example of a smaller hotel with all the character and charm of an older establishment;
- two storey wood frame construction with double windows;
- a hip gable Mansard-style roof with asphalt shingles;
- a basement was added in 1925 and beer parlour in 1933;
- stucco exterior;
- veranda on façade.