#OurStories – Abby Hibner’s Veteran Hotel – Special Areas Board

#OurStories – Abby Hibner’s Veteran Hotel

Abby Hibner and the Veteran Hotel, as told to Margarite Albanese (Hardy), adapted from “Pictoral Album of Veteran, Loyalist and Hemaruka”, compiled and published by Veteran Historical Society, 1979

Abby Hibner’s Veteran Hotel was opened in the fall of 1916. Two of the main builders were Ed Bower and Fred Mason. The electric lights in the hotel were supplied by a ‘Delco’ gasoline engine and a bank of wet cell batteries. I loved watching grandmother check and put water in the batteries and then start the engine. The rooms were plain, almost sterile, painted in light colours, with a picture molding and a picture or two in each room. On the windows were white curtains with green blinds.

The sample room off the lobby was a fascinating place when travellers were displaying their wares. Shoes, bolts of cloth, shirts, dresses and many more items were on display shelves. Later this room became the insurance office of George Laycraft and so lost it’s appeal for me as the samples were no longer displayed there.

There were a number of people who stayed ‘regularly’ at the hotel….One guest who stands out in my mind was a spiritualist medium. I recall the séance vividly. Nine or ten people were sitting around one of the dining room tables after it was closed. Each person had their hands flat on the table. There were some knocks heard from the area under the table, but, I couldn’t see anything under there. The medium let me stand between my mother and Mrs. Pinkerton and put my hands on the table too. (Probably to keep me quiet). After a while that heavy dining room table raised up and tilted towards the north. Those present were quite amazed! I couldn’t see anything under the table then either! I cant explain it but that table did raise up and I did hear knocks…I must say, that was one guest, who truly left an impression on all who were present.

On July 27, 1923 the Veteran Hotel burned to the ground. After the fire grandmother lived with us for a while but she wasn’t the same. She seemed tired and not feeling well. Some time later she left Veteran and returned to the United States.

To learn more about the history of the Special Areas, you can visit any District Office to view local area history books and collections.

Many local history books are also available online for viewing at the University of Calgary Archives and Special Collections, located at https://asc.ucalgary.ca/