Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cheap Hotels I Have Known

Hello Reader,
got yearning to travel?

The title is inspired by the classic Wild Animals I Have Known, which I read in Classics Comics as a boy.
Part one, published in the fall, inspired two comments, so I thought I would publish the rest of this piece for folks who yearned to travel under our big Alberta sky.

Edmonton (The capital)
In Edmonton I would stay at the Grand, just across from the Greyhound Station. People kept arriving wearing big backpacks or carrying duffle bags. It must have looked strange when I walked in the front wearing my big day pack, and then asked, “Where can I park my car?” 

The answer was: in the alley, as long as you don’t block the door to the kitchen. “The cook gets annoyed.” They even gave me a wee brown parking pass. For this hotel, every room came with a rotary phone. Calls out were billed a dime each call. I only got called once: It was eight minutes to check out time. I answered, “Room 212.” 

“Are you checking out?” 

“Sure I am, I’m all packed, but hey, I’m watching The Rocketeer. (The black and white original, not Disney’s) I’m coming right down when it’s over.” (At two minutes to eleven) When you checked out you handed in your TV remote, along with your key. The TV was mounted on angle iron high in the corner of the room where it would be safer.

Later they renovated by putting a shower in every room. That wouldn’t be so bad, but they raised the prices too! So I never stayed there again. Instead I went across the river to the historic old Strathcona district, which used to be it’s own separate town with it’s own armoury. There I found a good cowboy hotel. No TV, no phone. There I would happily pay a little extra, just to have one of the few rooms with it’s own toilet. Sometimes such fancy rooms were all taken, but that was OK, as then I could save some money.

Loydminister (Bordertown)
Back around the turn of the century, when I took a couple all-weekend classes in Loydminister, I horrified my local classmates by getting a room in the heart of downtown: Something as I always do, right in the cheapest hotel. With a bar on the ground floor. I don’t think my room had a phone, but it had a black and white TV with two fuzzy channels, the mosquito screen on the window was broken, and—hurray! My own rusty shower and toilet! Just by paying a little extra!

When I checked in, the desk clerk gave me three keys. I asked, “Why three?” 

“One’s for your room.” He pointed to the stairs “One’s for the door to the stairwell. No overnight guests.” 

“And the third?”

“After midnight there’s no one at the desk. So there’s a chain around the front door with a padlock.”

Red Deer
I can’t say what the best hotel in Red Deer is. The only time I stayed there I was in a normal hotel, how boring, but only because I had to stay beside the hospital, because someone had rolled his car four times. I counted the roof marks in the snow. But don’t worry: In Alberta, when the ice makes you roll, the snow cushions the blow. 

I invite you to drive Alberta, under our clear blue winter skies. Go ahead, frustrate a city chamber of Commerce by staying in some sagging historic hotel. Cheaply.

Sean Crawford
Keeping myself amused,
stuck in a fuselage,
Somewhere over the arctic,

Autumn of 2017


  1. I remember my night in the King Eddy! Toilet down the hallway and rockin' music downstairs that lulled me to sleep.

  2. The King Edward hotel (but we all said Eddy) was part of the North American blues circuit. It was the only venue in Calgary for folks from, say, Chicago, and now we don't have one.

    In Edmonton's Strathcona district, right across from my hotel, is the other "cowboy hotel." (Both are on Whyte avenue) They say it plays blues on Whyte. I forget the name, but it's known for bikers, (but it's quite safe, because everybody's friendly for the blues) with a big chain link cage outside: Because you can't legally smoke inside anymore.

    I have crossed over to it from the "old Strathcona" hotel to buy liquor to take back to a room party.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thank you for saying so.

      Strangely, I just noticed this comment tonight, and my web administrator's page shows another comment from you that is not showing on this public blog. Well, the Internet is strange.

      Again, thank you for your nice comment.