A Little East Van History – Motel Row On Kingsway

11 Sep

MotelVacancyTraveling along Kingsway through Collingwood, I noticed some inconspicuous street signs the City installed a few years back. Designed in the style of 1960ʼs era Trans Canada Highway markers, the signs proclaim Indigenous Trail and Wagon Road. This was done as an acknowledgement of Kingsway as a historical route into and out of Vancouver for indigenous and non-indigenous people.

These signs got me thinking about my own use of the route. In particular how I had designated some navigational points along Kingsway which I used to gauge my progress entering or exiting the City. These points are or were motels that stand out against the shifting commercial landscape of Kingsway. I set off to rediscover my motel route.

Heading east the starting point was always the Biltmore at 12th and Kingsway. Once a Howard Johnsonʼs Hotel, and previously various others, it is now social housing. The next point is the Days Inn at Kingsway and Victoria. This place has been there for 70 years and in the early days was considered quite upscale. I know because the hotel is where my mom stayed on her wedding night. Either that or my Dad really was the cheapskate he was suspected of being.

Continuing east to Kingsway and Nanaimo, where there once stood a vast motel with beer parlour and off-sales called the Eldorado. It has since been replaced by several condo towers although the motel name lives on with the small Eldorado liquor store on the corner. I wonder if the owners actually did their research on the name. The beer parlour with off-sales was called Mulhernʼs Pub, named after the family that owned the Eldorado. A curious side note about the pub is that a family member apparently attempted to pull a stick-up of Mulhernʼs, but had a little problem with the stocking over their face and was recognized. Always helps to have a proper disguise when robbing family.

Past the old Eldorado site is the iconic and hard to miss 2400 Motel. This city owned 3 acre enclave of 18 cottages has been a frequent film location for everything from the X-Files to Smallville. The 2400 also briefly hosted Ahmed Ressam the Millennium Bomber, who fortunately didnʼt overcook anything during his stay. After the 2400 Motel is the last point before Boundary the Mr. Sport Hotel at Kingsway and Battison. This placeʼs marquee always seemed to advertise it as the last stop for strippers and off-sales before the wilds of Burnaby. The Mr. Sport eventually became a Ramada and then like the Biltmore was bought by the City and turned into social housing. A painted over Ramada sign and faded “Lobby “awning stand as a reminder of its intimidating previous lives. The Mr. Sport looked then and still looks to me now like a place you went into and instantly got shit kicked.

Aside from these motels, there are two other strange atolls of accommodation along the Kingsway route. One, almost directly across from the old Mr. Sport, is the Deluxe Hotel. I suspect it is as deluxe as that burger you get from the cafe gas station garage in Boston Bar. One the other hand the Deluxe, which has been around since 1958, recently changed hands. It has a nice new sign and may be slowly drifting towards the boutique style. Although youʼll probably never find out as it is probably booked full of would be novelists trying to get that gritty East Van feel.

More suspect is the Cassandra at 3075 Kingsway. While it advertises itself as a “comfortable and connected 3 star”, youʼve got to wonder what it’s doing there. From the outside it definitely has that must be a front for something feel. Certainly if you are in a witness protection program,  or generally have at least one hand gun stuffed into your saggy baggy jeans, you might not feel out of place.

By Contributing Writer Al Tee

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2 Responses to “A Little East Van History – Motel Row On Kingsway”

  1. Rania September 12, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    Great to see this piece!
    There are a few more gems that disappeared.
    1) There was the motel on the north side of Kingsway, just west of Rupert, between the Collingwood Library and the current pot shop. I can’t recall the name, but it was set on fire back in ’80 or ’81, and the owner was charged with fraud and homicide as a result. That was one big wreck for about two decades while things got tangled up in court.
    2) There was British Motel with two giant beefeaters and their posts just west of the Wally’s, or was it further west close to the current Dollarama? Two more motels beside those.
    3) A few more… trying to recall the names…
    Thanks for memory lane…

    • createveinvan September 12, 2017 at 10:37 am #

      Awesome history Rania. Thanks for sharing yours. Looks like it would make a great blog post as well. 👍

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