Just like his subjects, the author of a new book on hotels that played key roles in the history of B.C.’s Southern Interior is no longer with us.
Victoria man Glen Mofford, who penned “Room at the Inn,” died last year before his manuscript went to press.
The book, which is being released today, tells the stories of 40 hotels, including two each in Kelowna, Penticton and Oliver, and others from outlying communities.
Penticton’s entries include the Incola Hotel, which Mofford describes as among a handful in the book that “were so significant that they were deemed essential to the growth and prosperity of the town where they were built.”
It was opened in 1912 along the Okanagan Lake waterfront by a company controlled by Canadian Pacific Railway.
“The plan was ambitious, risky, and something that could only be accomplished by a huge company with the financial wherewithal like the CPR. Once the Incola was completed, it put Penticton on the map, and the hotel became an important piece of the CPR network of hotels connected throughout B.C. by the railways and CPR sternwheelers,” explains the Incola’s chapter.
Other parts of the book “focus on B.C.’s early hospitality industry, covering the time period of the 1890s to 1950s. Salacious stories of murder, robbery, and suicide are mixed in with the daily social routine and operation of these early hotels and the people of the community,” explained the publisher, Heritage House, in a press release.
The book’s foreword comes from Greg Nesteroff, a Nelson-based reporter and historian.
Nesteroff never met Mofford in person, but the two exchanged messages and emails and bonded over their shared love of history.
Reading the rest of the book made Nesteroff feel “wistful.”
“Many of the hotels profiled were important to their communities in ways far beyond their original or nominal purpose, so losing them was devastating. Some were rebuilt, but many more weren't,” Nesteroff told The Herald in an email.
“I also felt ‘anemoia,’ a made-up word for ‘nostalgia for a time you never knew.’ While I'm not sure I would want to live in the past, I would love to have seen many of these buildings in their heyday. And I felt an even greater appreciation for the historic hotels that have survived against all odds, especially those that still retain their original characteristics.”