The Old Hotel, formerly the Airdrie Hotel, began in 1904 on what was then the edge of the village. Mr. Dan McDonald is believed to be the one who moved the original Hotel building to the site where it sits today. However, it is no longer on the edge of town, but instead is part of Airdrie’s picturesque downtown area.
In the beginning, it was mainly travellers on the Calgary-Edmonton Trail that frequented the Hotel. Airdrie was classified by the Northwest Mounted Police as ‘a day’s journey north of Calgary’ and therefore a convenient place to stop for the night. Soon after that, 35 construction workers occupied the Hotel during Airdrie’s first major construction enterprise.
The Hotel also had a beverage room built on in 1904 that attracted people from all over the area. However, with the 1916 prohibition law, the beverage room was closed until 1925 when it reopened. The Hotel has been serving its customers faithfully since.
During the worldwide Spanish Influenza Epidemic in 1918-1919, the Airdrie Hotel served as a makeshift hospital for the sick. This was critical because then Doctor Edwards could isolate the infection and treat patients in one location. Doctor Edwards and Nurse Kinniburgh, along with many volunteers, worked long hours in the Hotel trying to beat the Influenza.
In 1921 Olaf Kolstad purchased the Hotel and began a family legacy of 39 years. Olaf managed the Hotel until 1933 when a hunting accident forced most of the responsibility on to his wife. She managed to operate the hotel with hired help until 1946. At this time Herman, Robert and Percy Kolstad took over the family business until 1960 when they sold it to William Peever of Olds. At the time, the Kolstad family was responsible for making the Airdrie Hotel the longest family-owned hotel in Alberta.
Since then the Hotel has changed hands many times. Reg and Mickey Lewis owned it after William Peever; then Frank and Ann Moersch; and Lyle and Marion Irwin. The Irwin’s built a Beer Garden on to the Hotel in 1972, which became very popular.
Vern Scheid bought the Hotel from the Irwin’s and completely renovated it. He added an additional 14 rooms, covered the Beer Gardens and expanded the Tavern to its current size. Carol Grisbrook purchased it in 1994. Her renovations included the Q-Club, located on the upper level and the Hub Pub.
The Airdrie Hotel is now called the Old Hotel, however, there is no written source detailing an official name change. Most people who have lived in the Airdrie area for some time opt that the change was recent, although none know the exact date. Therefore, it can be concluded that it was a gradual change probably from people nick-naming it the Old Hotel, as Airdrie began to grow drastically after the 70’s and new hotels were built.
Sources for this history include “One Day’s Journey” by Stephen Wilk and one of the Hotel’s owners, Carol Grisbrook, who put together a small history of it from previous Hotel records.