One of the oldest buildings in Alberta suffered heavy damage over the weekend as a fire broke out on the top floor of the 128-year-old Strathcona Hotel. Reported by a nearby resident who spotted smoke rising from the building around 9:30 pm, the blaze broke out just as the popular Old Strathcona entertainment district was coming to life on Friday night. 

Fire broke out at the historical Strathcona Hotel on Friday, photo by Dave Sutherland

Captured on video below, up to 40 firefighters battled the blaze well into Saturday morning, when it was finally contained at 2:00 am, and extinguished later that morning. 

Though the extent of the damage has yet to be assessed, the structure is still standing, with exterior damage appearing to be limited to the roof. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, and the building was vacant at the time.

In a press release on Monday, an Edmonton Fire and Rescue Services representative indicated the fire was started by a contractor working on the site earlier in the day. A grinder has ignited some insulation in the roof earlier in the day, and the contractor believed it had been adequately extinguished at the time.

Firefighters battle the blaze at the Strathcona Hotel on Friday, photo by Dave Sutherland

Beljan Development was in the process of restoring and leasing the building to new office and retail tenants, having purchased it in 2018. Beljan issued a statement on Saturday committing to retaining as much of the building as possible. The company is known for many successful historical restorations in the area, including the recently completed Tipton Investment Building.

Beljan Development was working on a restoration of the building before the fire, image via Beljan Development

Known alternately as "The Strath" or "The Strat" by longtime Edmontonians who remember it as a popular though rundown drinking establishment, The Strathcona Hotel was constructed in 1891 and had two additions built in 1903 and 1907. The wood-framed building was constructed by the Calgary and Edmonton Railway Company in 1891 at the "End of Steel" in what was then South Edmonton (later to be named the Town of Strathcona before being amalgamated into Edmonton in 1912), and served as a stopping point for many immigrants seeking a new beginning in the vast Northwest Territories. It is the oldest commercial building in the region, and one of the oldest buildings in all of Alberta.

Strathcona Hotel circa 1892, image via City of Edmonton Archives

SkyriseEdmonton will continue to follow the restoration of the Strathcona Hotel as more information becomes available. Visit our forum thread for more photos of the incident, as well as to find more information about the original restoration plans for the building. Do you have memories of The Strat/Strath? Share them in the comments below.