Note – this is an ongoing research project, and this page is subject to updates as new information is located.
The Aldergrove Hotel – or the Hotel Alders as it was first announced – was built by Mr. Jay Ingersoll and his wife Eva. Mr. Ingersoll was a Coghlan resident before moving to a new residence at 2428 264 Street. Mr. Ingersoll was not only a member of the Horsemen’s Benevolent Society and the BC Thoroughbred Racing Society, he was also a breeder of Shorthorn beef cattle. Mr. Ingersoll was a member of the Aldergrove Elks Lodge No. 66 while Mrs. Ingersoll was a member of the Langley Business and Professional Women’s Club. They both were members and supporters of many Aldergrove community groups such as the Agricultural Association, Junior Chamber of Commerce, Jaycettes as well as community events such as fundraising auctions and Klondyke Festivals.
The Ingersolls formed the Aldergrove Hotel Co. Ltd. and stated in their newspaper announcement that the new enterprise would be named The Hotel Alders. The new hotel would be built on the site of the former Hotel Western Home (later renamed The Aldergrove Hotel) at the southeast corner of what was then the Trans-Canada Highway and Jackman Road. Priority was given to local builders and suppliers for the construction and finishing of the hotel, which would offer sixteen guest rooms, half with private baths. There would also be a licensed cafe, along with a banquet room that could accommodate up to eighty people. The foundations for the new hotel were laid in late April, 1948.
The new hotel was highly anticipated in Aldergrove, as residents and business owners knew that it would be of great benefit to the small town’s economy. Priority was given to local builders and suppliers for the construction and finishing of the hotel, which would offer sixteen guest rooms, half with private baths. There would also be a licensed cafe, along with a banquet room that could accommodate up to eighty people. In the future, the banquet room would become the regular meeting place of many community groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, the BC Guernsey Breeders Association, church groups and even the Fraser Valley Bar Association well into the 1970s. It would host wedding receptions, awards banquets and educational seminars. The Langley Advance announced in its 28 October 1948 edition that the hotel was nearing completion.
When the Aldergrove Hotel officially opened in January 1949, the Aldergrove Optimist newspaper – a short-lived publication from the publisher of the Langley Advance – featured the new enterprise on its front page. Sadly, the museum’s copy is not in pristine condition. The photos are credited to the Vancouver News-Herald, but no digital copies of that paper are available for the first half of 1950. Below on the left are the two articles dedicated to the new hotel. I encourage you to click the thumbnail and read all about the modern amenities available to the hotel’s guests.
Once open, the Aldergrove Hotel quickly became a popular place to stay, especially for naval personnel and their families who had been stationed to HMCS Aldergrove, the naval radio relay station just north of town. The hotel would be a temporary home to those awaiting base housing or the many Naval officers and personnel who visited the base.
The names of hotel guests were regularly published in the Langley Advance newspaper, usually along with the purpose of their stay and where they were from. People from all over North America stopped over at the Aldergrove Hotel – some of those guests were even on their honeymoon, such as Mr. and Mrs. Henry Klassen of Abbotsford, Mr. and Mrs. F. Krovebush of Cloverdale, Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Warkentin of Abbotsford. Visitor home towns included Los Angeles, Calgary, Denver, Windsor, Whitehorse, Corvallis, Bellingham and of course many towns within British Columbia.
In 1958, the Aldergrove Hotel was the scene of a daring armed robbery. Mr. Ingersoll was working the front desk at about 1:15am on the morning of 14 October when a lone man entered the hotel lobby. He requested a room, and when Mr. Ingersoll turned his back to get a registration card off of the wall, the man pulled a gun and made him once again turn around and face the wall. The man was unmasked and Mr. Ingersoll was able to get a good look at him when he had first entered the lobby.
A second armed man entered the lobby wearing a mask, and along with the first man held his gun to Mr. Ingersoll’s neck, forcing him to unlock and open the safe behind the registration desk. Once the safe was open, the two men removed nearly $2000.00 in cash, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend receipts from the hotel, beer parlour and cafe.
Before leaving, the two men then taped Mr. Ingersoll’s mouth, hands and feet, then tied him to the desk. It took Mr. Ingersoll about ten minutes to free himself before he could call for help. A staff member cleaning up the beer parlour heard Mr. Ingersoll’s shouts for help and used a pair of scissors to free him.
The RCMP was called, and road blocks were set up around the Fraser Valley. The men were spotted heading west out of Langley City, and officers manning a road block at the corner of King George Highway and New McLellan Road (56 Avenue) were waiting to apprehend the robbers. Two men (one tried to flee) and a woman were arrested, with all of the cash, both guns and two masks being seized out of the car. Richard Shellenberg (23) of Burnaby and Albert Blohm (22) of Vancouver appeared in criminal court the following week. The men both pleaded guilty and on 24 October 1958 they were each sentenced to 6 years in prison.
The Aldergrove Hotel also had a very unique feature on its roof – the new siren used to alert the volunteer firefighters that their services were needed. Citizens who required the fire department would call the fire alarm telephone which had been installed in the Aldergrove Hotel, and Mrs. Ingersoll would wind up the siren. Mrs. Ingersoll had volunteered to be the unpaid dispatcher and alarm sounder until 1962, when the Township fire departments switched over to a centrally control radio alert system. At the time of the old siren’s retirement, Mrs. Ingersoll was made Honourary Fire Chief by Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Chief Fred Dams as a way to thank her for her many years of service to the community’s fire department. The image below appeared on page 2 in the 27 December 1962 edition of The Vancouver Province.
The final time the roof on the hotel called out to the volunteer firefighters was on Saturday 15 June 1962. According to a report in the 20 June 1962 edition of the Langley Advance, Les Williams’ Machine Shop caught for the second time that year.
“Fire was first noticed just before 8:30 o’clock Saturday morning by a motorist passing by. He pulled into the service station operated by Fred Dams a few doors away from Mr. Williams’ machine shop and reported that smoke was coming from the building.”
“The alarm was a partial test for the new, radio operated fire alarm system which went into full operation the next day (16 June). Fire chief Dams drove to the Aldergrove Hotel up the street and had the switch thrown for the old fire siren. Then, instead of proceeding to the hall he phoned the fire information base at the RCMP headquarters at Livingstone Road. The information was then relayed back to the fire hall by radio much quicker than Fred could have travelled to the hall himself.”
“It was the last time that the old Aldergrove fire siren was used. The new one, triggered by radio, was installed on Sunday.”
“Fire in the machine shop was knocked down quickly although flames were licking out of the upstairs windows and the big doors at the front when the fire equipment arrived. A new method of laying hose direct from the truck speeded getting water from the closest fire hydrant. Men and equipment were back at the hall in less than an hour.”
“At the time the fire started the machine shop was locked and no one had been in the premises since the night before. Mr. Williams, who lives close by, was on his way to work when the fire was reported.”
Later in 1949 and perhaps spurred by the development of the hotel, Mr. Endacott and Mr. Ross – two men well known for their business and real estate acumen, announced that the land behind the hotel had been broken up and subdivided into business sites. In preparation for these new commercial offerings, streets and lanes were pushed through to facilitate construction. It was anticipated that the new block would provide opportunity for further commercial development in a compact area, and there was also room for building sites. By August 1949, the property had been cleared and was ready for immediate development.
The aerial image to the right is extracted from a photo that was taken around 1960, and shows the development that took place behind the hotel. One can see Nick Dediluke’s barbershop tucked in between the two larger buildings. The large building to the left of the barbershop was Jacobson’s Plumbing. The white building on the far right of the photo was Haid’s Woodwork. The duplex along the back lane offered rental housing and was often a first home for new families until they found a house to purchase. In 1950 this was the first home of Elmer and Ann Quiring and their children prior to their purchase of their house at the corner of 29th Avenue and 271st Street.
Over the years since the Ingersoll’s had opened the hotel, they had donated many hours, services, cash and goods to various community initiatives. In 1949, Mr. Ingersoll donated a bull calf to an auction that was to raise funds in support of Aldergrove Park projects. The Ingersoll’s also donated cash to the cause in 1952 to help pay off the last of the new park’s development debt. In 1962 they donated trophies in support of Township Recreation Director Pete Swensson’s various youth sports programmes.
In 1963, the Ingersoll’s sold the Aldergrove Hotel to Mr. John Dizdaredich, then resold it to Frankmount Holdings Ltd., which was owned by Mr. Henry Frank. A 20 February 1964 article on page 11 of the Langley Advance stated that “Mr. and Mrs. Frank and two sons aged 10 and 2, are residing in the hotel’s penthouse suite. They have come to Aldergrove from Prince George, where they had a hotel for the past two years. Prior to that Mr. Frank had a hardwood floor business and was a house building contractor for 14 years.”
Mr. Frank was also a community-minded hotelier. He joined the Aldergrove Chamber of Commerce and also sponsored amateur sports teams.
In July of 1967 the Aldergrove Hotel was once again the victim of robbers. This time the robbery was conducted when no one was in the hotel over the Canada Day long weekend. Mr. Franks opened the hotel to find that the safe had been peeled open and approximately $3000.00 in cash was removed by the robbers. (Langley Advance 13 July 1967 page 9)
According to a Langley Advance article regarding parking spaces at buildings in the municipality, the Aldergrove Hotel had received an addition to its building some time in 1968, which resulted in the loss of parking spaces. (Langley Advance 10 October 1968 page 15)
It was in 1966 that Aldergrove lost the use of its large banquet room as owner Henry Frank renovated the larger room in order to install a cocktail lounge alongside a smaller dining room. (Langley Advance 24 February 1966 page 10) In 1968, Mr. Frank undertook a $50 000.00 two-storey addition to the Aldergrove Hotel that would see additional rooms upstairs and more space in the public rooms on the ground floor.
There is still more research being conducted in regards to the change over from the Aldergrove Hotel becoming known as the Alder Inn Hotel. As people tend to do, the hotel was still being referred to as the Aldergrove Hotel well into the 1970s and even into the 80s, but there have also been early 1970s references to it as the Alder Inn. We do know that Mr. and Mrs. Frank sold the Aldergrove Hotel sometime between 1968 and 1971.
Lack of access to hard copy documents and other research materials held by archives other than our own has made this research even more of a challenge. Until such time as we can access more materials, we will have to rely on what we can find in online repositories and our own holdings – all of which take a lot of time to read, which leads to more time spent writing notes and compiling material. Please check back soon, as more information will be added to the Aldergrove Hotel’s story. Stay tuned!