Interest surrounding the 1912 sinking of the Titanic appears to be reaching a fever pitch with this year’s 100th anniversary observance.
The year 1912 was significant locally as well for the community of Kaleden along the west shore of Skaha Lake.
It was in 1912 that the Kaleden Hotel opened.The general store, which survives to this day next door to the hotel remains, also opened its doors that year.
The Kaleden Hotel shell was labourioulsy constructed by hand labour, wheelbarrowing loads of concete up four stories of scaffolding which circled the building.
The hotel’s fate was similar to Titanic’s, in that she only survived as a viable entity for a short period of time.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, business dropped off precipitously as most of the local labour force enlisted. By the end of the conflict, improving roads in the South Okananagan reduced the need for travellers to use Kaleden as a stopping point on their travels through the valley. The hotel closed shortly after the war and never reopened. It was stripped of all salvageable materials as the decades went by; somehow, the concrete shell has survived 100 years.
In the 1990’s, local restauranteur Allan Dell headed a movement to partially restore the hotel and make an entertainment venue out of it. The idea was controversial dividing the community somewhat at the time. An engineering report was done , indicating what repairs would be necessary, but no restoration work was done.
The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen recently identified the hotel as having “heritage significance” to the province. A strategic analysis and a formal study would have to be undertaken at the local level before the province would consider giving the structure heritage status.
Across the street, Kaleden’s original general store has survived the past century well. Through the years it housed the general store, a candy making business, a garage, a restaurant, and private living quarters.