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Trail’s Elma Hotel

I was puzzled to come across an ad in the Trail News of Feb. 9, 1923 for the Elma Hotel, Lean and Lean proprietors. 

No location was given in the ad, and I had never heard of the hotel. Where was it? 

Civic directories from 1921 to 1926 confirm the Elma’s existence, without revealing its location. In 1921 and 1922, C.W. Daniels was the proprietor. In 1923, Lean and Lean took over. Their ad from the civic director of that year is seen below.

No manager was listed in 1924, but in 1925 and 1926, Thomas Lean alone was listed as manager. 

I might still be trying to figure out the answer but for the digitized Nelson Daily News. In addition to scattered references to Thomas Lean visiting Nelson and a meeting of the West Kootenay Hockey League being held at the Elma, the edition of Nov. 1, 1926 carried an ad (seen below) “Announcing the reopening Wednesday, Oct. 20 of the former Elma Hotel, Tail [sic], BC, as the Hotel Arlington.” Aha! 

The hotel had just been taken over by Pete Levesque, who would operate it for many years. It was previously known as the Arlington as well. If any other source mentions its brief renaming as the Elma, I haven’t seen it. 

I have written before on the Arlington, which is the oldest business in Trail and one of the city’s oldest buildings, constructed in 1896.

But who was Elma? I haven’t been able to figure it out. Vital events lists one marriage and two deaths in Trail of women named Elma. 

Elma Grace Rabbit married William Mauchline on July 15, 1935. She was then a 22-year-old schoolteacher from Revelstoke. Elma Lina Hamling died on April 20, 1962, age 56. Elma Bertina Schoenau (nee Wildfong) died Oct. 7, 1974, age 88. But none had any obvious connection to Charles William Daniels, the first proprietor of the hotel as the Elma, who we can guess may have chosen the name. 

I checked Daniels’ family tree and found he was born in Delphos, Ohio, and died in Chilliwack in 1955. His wife was Julia Hannah Lohrer, his mother was Katherine LeHue, and his daughters were Dorothy and Ethel. The latter is kind of close to Elma, but not quite. 

There’s a small town in Manitoba called Elma, but Daniels had no obvious connection to it. It had its own six-room Elma Hotel, built in 1928. There’s also an Elma, Wash.

Nelson collector Stan Sherstobitoff kindly shared a rare Elma Hotel billhead and envelope with me, seen below, which reveal another co-proprietor in a Mr. Masters. But for the fact they were not the first proprietors, I might have guessed the hotel name was a play on their names: EL for the L in Lean plus MA for Masters.

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Reginald Garnett
Reginald Garnett
Oct 26, 2022

Haven't been in Trail for many years. Is the Arlington stll there?

Greg Nesteroff
Greg Nesteroff
Oct 26, 2022
Replying to

Yes, it is.

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