In this latest then and now (special Saskatchewan edition) we look at the stately Hotel Grant Hall in downtown Moose Jaw. The first image is from an old postcard from the late 1930s or thereabouts and we return to the spot where it was shot to see how things look in 2014. As you can see, not much has changed and the hotel is as gorgeous today as it was back then.
It was built in 1927 and was named after an official with the Canadian Pacific Railway – this shows how important and influential the railway was to the city.
It was constructed in an Edwardian Commercial style. Many business blocks, retail outlets, warehouses and factories, and hotels in particular were made in this manner. It’s most common in the period 1905-1915 although it continued to be used well into the 1920s. Features common to this design philosophy include a robust appearance with generally simple accents and an uncluttered layout with large windows and open spaces. Brick was almost always the main building material of choice. This one also has some stone elements which was also quite common. The designer of the building was a local architect – his work can be seen on many buildings in town.
The hotel’s website has this to say in regards to the building’s history…
…Modelled after the grand CPR hotels of the time, its opulence and grandeur stood out in the thriving community of Moose Jaw. The hotel has played host to celebrities and royalty…in over sixty years of operation.
A high class joint, it catered to those who appreciated the finer things. In the beginning anyway. As time passed, the Grant Hall’s status transformed and by the time it closed in the late 1980s it was
dated, run down and in need of some serious TLC. It was a typical dive hotel, a fate that befell many fine old establishments. As was common with these types of places, it ceased to be a true hotel in many respects and instead became a permanent living facility for winos, the elderly and the downtrodden. Few visitors to town would dare stay there, again according to those I spoke with. They went on to say that the bar (the real money maker for many old hotels BTW), was a rough and tumble place, well known to the police.
In the late 1960s the then owners renamed it the Westward Motor Inn. I understand the building was bought and sold many times in later years. The final owners changed its name back to the Hotel Grant Hall None of that mattered and as mentioned it closed down in the late 80s. It sat vacant for many years before being purchased by an individual in 2001. This person had intentions to fix it up and reopen it and in the ensuing years has overseen extensive renovations to the building. It took a while to return it to its former glory but it finally reopened in 2013. Most of the rooms are used for “alternative living”, meaning they are more apartment like and are used for long term accommodation (meals included). One floor is treated as a traditional hotel.
Explaining this further is a quote from the hotel’s website…
In addition to our 18 room boutique hotel, since re-opening its doors in 2013 The Grant Hall is home to year round residents with three floors of the property hosting assisted living operating as Grant Hall Alternative Living.
The building is also home to a fine dining establishment. I checked out the menu online and I must go there next time we are in town. The food looks delicious!
Looking at photos online showing the interior one can see just how well the renovations went. It looks wonderful inside. Kudos to those who did the work. The outside looks great too.
Seen to the left of the Hotel Grant Hall is a very interesting building, the Zion United Church. We shot a then and now using it and if our photo turns out good enough, we’ll post a report about it sometime soon.
The old image is from a postcard, scanned and submitted to us by a reader of this blog. Thanks Michael, we enjoyed shooting the “now” photo. The card is undated but given that the cars seen in it are late 1930s or early 1940s models, we can say it was shot around that time.
The image is a bit too small for me to positively identify the make and model of the autos seen. Reader’s with better eyesight are welcomed to chime in if they can help in regards to that.
It not known who produced the card but it must clearly be from a series. Note the #17 seen at the bottom of the image. We’ve seen other cards showing Moose Jaw, done in a similar style, that are also numbered. This author has seen a second version of this card that was tinted. It was not uncommon for a company to produce a card in many variations (colour print, tinted print or sometimes black and white or sepia).
I have to admit I am not completely happy with the now photo. It’s lined up well, but the keystone effect (building distortion) is somewhat of a problem. That’s often the case when shooting buildings. For all the then and now shots we show, we do not modify the image in post in respects to positioning, beyond some very minor scaling and image straightening. For the rest of it, we rely on our own skills when shooting – some times we ace it, other times, like here, our results are a wee bit off. This is how we do it.
If you have an old postcard and would like us to revisit the location seen in it, to check out what things looks like today, and then document it all in this blog, by all means send it to us. We can accept actual cards (they will get returned) or scanned copies. Contact information can be found below.
To see some other hotels we’ve documented, follow these links…
Claresholm then and now – Bell Hotel – Claresholm Inn.
The Nash aka the National Hotel.
The notorious American Hotel.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: May, 2014.
Location: Moose Jaw, SK.