Written by: Justin Brett
One landmark of old Sault Ste. Marie that is unfortunately no longer seen in the city is the International Hotel. It was constructed in 1888 by N.M Neald and J.C. Meagher, two local businessman, and as the title suggests it was an attempt to court the business of people traveling to or through Sault Ste. Marie. To that end it was well-equipped for its time, boasting 255 rooms, a dining room that could seat up to 400 people, and all the modern conveniences of the time, such as hot water for guests and electricity running throughout the building. It was even built directly facing the river and had its own dock for guests.
The International Hotel seems to have been very successful despite numerous competing hotels in the area, including the Algonquin Hotel which wasn't far away. It even held some banquets for major Canadian names, such as Francis Hector Clergue. All this would come to an end in 1916, however.
On January 10th, 1916, a fire began in the hotel's elevator shaft. Exactly how it was started seems to be unknown, but this was a poor time for one to happen. Not only did typical January weather make it difficult for fire fighters to use their hoses, the fire's location made it difficult for them to even reach. It is also said there was a strong wind on that night which helped to fan the flames even more.
Despite the best efforts of responders, the International Hotel sadly burned to the ground, with only a few walls and some items inside surviving the blaze. It was never rebuilt, while ironically the Algonquin Hotel still stands today. An unfortunate twist of fate for such a legendary building, but it is nonetheless remembered today in these pictures and information.