LOOKBACK: Fire destroys Lacombe’s historic Empress Hotel

Innisfail-area hog producer Jim Smith had a very bad feeling about his industry’s future on a day when six new human cases of the H1N1 flu virus were announced in Alberta.

Rodeo clown Lee Bellows draws back his marshmallow-loaded sling and fixes on his next target during the Westerner Silver Buckle rodeo at the Centrium.

Rodeo clown Lee Bellows draws back his marshmallow-loaded sling and fixes on his next target during the Westerner Silver Buckle rodeo at the Centrium.

ONE YEAR AGO

• Innisfail-area hog producer Jim Smith had a very bad feeling about his industry’s future on a day when six new human cases of the H1N1 flu virus were announced in Alberta. “It’s going to be devastating. It’s the BSE,” said Smith on Monday, in a reference to the disease that shut U.S. borders to Alberta beef and cost the industry billions beginning in May 2003. “We’ve already lost $10 to $12 per hog. “If you market 6,000, that’s $60,000.”

• A small Olds dog was inducted into the Purina Hall of Fame. Sophie, an 18-month old Bijon Frise, owned by Mary-Ann Lazurko and her family, was one of four animals inducted into the hall during a ceremony in Toronto. Jordana Wolch, a spokesman for the award ceremony, said that early one morning, Sophie was vigorously tossing about on Lazurko’s bed. Lazurko tried to calm the dog down. She thought she heard a noise coming from her diabetic daughter Belinda’s room but disregarded it and fell back to sleep.

Sophie, however, wouldn’t let go. She started pacing back and forth across the bed and managed to get Lazurko up. The dog bolted for Belinda’s room and it was discovered she had slipped into a diabetic coma. When the ambulance crew arrived, an intravenous was started, which helped Belinda regain consciousness.

FIVE YEARS AGO

• CBC Radio junkies traded in their robes and slippers to attend a 7 a.m. live broadcast of Sounds Like Canada at Glenn’s Family Restaurant. Fifty people were digging into breakfast by the time the broadcast with national talk show host Shelagh Rogers hit the airwaves.

• Blackfalds officials met with Solicitor General Harvey Cenaiko in Edmonton to resolve a long-simmering dispute with the Alberta government over a $298,000-policing bill. The government claimed the municipality owed it for policing from April 2003 to March 2004.

25 YEARS AGO

• Red Deer firemen voted strongly to accept paramedics into their union, said the chairman of the firefighter’s ambulance review committee. “If we’re going to be working closely with them, we should try our best to make it work right,” said Keith Fox, who didn’t reveal the vote split among the 75 union members. “It’s been proven in studies that the two groups work best together when everyone know what the other does,” Mr. Fox said.

• Fire gutted the Empress Hotel early in the morning and the loss was close to $1 million. Lacombe fire department received a call at 3:33 a.m. and found the hotel, located at 4711-49 B Ave clogged with smoke, said fire chief Des Cooper. “There was smoke coming out and it was very hot. It was out of control enough that we couldn’t contain it.”

50 YEARS AGO

• Capri Hotels Ltd., which was planning to build a large hotel in Red Deer, was incorporated as a limited company with an authorized capitalization of $800,000. According to an issue of the Alberta Gazette, the new company was authorized to issue 12,000 shares without nominal or par value for a maximum price not exceeding $12,000 and 788 preference shares each having a value of $1000.

90 YEARS AGO

• The story may have been a little moth-eaten as Secretary-Treasurer Welton claimed, but it illustrated some of the vagaries of the law and how a quick witted woman took advantage of them to the financial detriment of the Village of North Red Deer. A team of horses was found astray in the village and was put into the pound.

The Village had an idea that they were owned by a Red Deer teamster, but the answers to their enquiries were confusing or evasive. Whether or not Reeve Duran, fearing that the Village would be faced with a heavy feed bill from the pound keeper, had any hand in it cannot be here definitely decided, but certain it is that the horses disappeared from the Village pound and were reported to have been run out of the Village.

During the municipal meeting, however, they wandered back, no doubt preferring the pound fare. The Village, to escape legal complications, complied strictly with the law and kept the horses for the required statutory time, before offering them for sale.

The horses were finally advertised locally for sale and the reputed owners turned up at the sale, or rather the teamster’s good lady did, together with a friend to give a second bid. The horses were knocked down to the lady at $12.

One horse belonged to the husband the lady admitted, but the other, she said, belonged to a soldier who had gone overseas and not since been heard of by them.

The pound keeper’s feed bill to the Village for the impounded horses was some $95. That such a law should be taken advantage of to load the cost of nearly two months keep of a team on the municipality was a sore spot and rightly so with the Village Council.

100 YEARS AGO

• Excavation work began on the new $20,000 CPR station planned for Red Deer. At 112 feet by 32 feet, it was to be the biggest station on the line, except for those at terminals.

• Donations to the Red Deer Memorial Hospital for March and April included feathers for pillows, Easter lillies, three floor rugs, books and assorted furniture.

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