Remembering Hotel Keremeos in its heydays

A landmark for a century, the historic railway hotel burned to the ground in July 2014

The Hotel Keremeos in its heyday was a thriving rooming-house style railway hotel where you could stay for $10 a week and eat a meal for under 80 cents.

Back then there was a separate entrance for ‘ladies and escorts.’

The hotel was built in 1906 as a railway hotel and then later a motor motel with a pretty famous pub and cocktail room below.

In the heart of town, Hotel Keremeos was a landmark for the community for a century.

Although it changed shape and direction, the historic hotel was an integral part of the community. But then on a hot July morning in 2014, it burned down to the ground, marking the end of an era.

At the time of the fire, locals attributed the cause to lightning which had sparked all around the valley that night.

But in talking to Keremeos fire chief Jordy Bosscha, the cause of the fire is still undetermined to this day. When it burned down it was known as the Red Bridge Pub, so named for the historic Red Bridge, and housed the local liquor store too.

The Keremeos Hotel was built a stone’s throw away from the then Keremeos train station.

The Hotel Keremeos in its heyday circa 1930s. The hotel was first built in the early 1900s as a railway hotel and then later a motor motel with a pretty famous saloon below. Hotel Keremeos burned down in 2014. (BC and Vancouver Archives)

The Hotel Keremeos in its heyday circa 1930s. The hotel was first built in the early 1900s as a railway hotel and then later a motor motel with a pretty famous saloon below. Hotel Keremeos burned down in 2014. (BC and Vancouver Archives)

George Kirby first ran the hotel. When he died in 1913, his wife continued to run the hotel for many years afterwards. Longtime resident and former Keremeos mayor Francis Peck remembers having tea at the hotel many times.

“I remember Mrs. Kirby, walking down the street in high boots and old fashioned clothing, with her dogs,” Peck said. “My mother and I had many teas with Mrs. Kirby.”

Peck’s recollections are from the era when the hotel’s main entrance was at the corner of Seventh Street and Veterans Avenue.

“I have a lot of memories of that place,” she said. “You could get a room for $10 a week.”

By the 1950s, the hotel had changed from a railway hotel to a motor hotel, catering to those in automobiles.

READ MORE: History of Hotel Keremeos

Keremeos is the perfect town to stop in on a trip from Vancouver to the Interior. Many would stay a night or 10, before moving on in their travels.

The building then shed its original clapboard siding for a stucco finish. The entrances were now located mid-building, with separate entrances for “gentlemen” and “ladies and escorts.”

The hotel also had a cocktail room they called the Kobau Room, named after Kobau Mountain.

Then the top floor was removed from the hotel as it was deemed a fire hazard.

In 2005, the liquor store began operating.

Then the Red Bridge Pub started operating out of the main floor.

But then that fateful July night, history in Keremeos went up in flames.

*History provided from previous Keremeos Review articles.

READ MORE: End of an era: Red Bridge Pub burns to ground