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Sunday Afternoon Tea at the Phair

By Contributor
February 15th, 2013

Stand on any spot in Nelson and you can feel history.

The Nelson Public Library celebrates the history of its location during February with a photographic and artifact display (courtesy Touchstones Nelson) and a special storytelling event celebrating the Hotel Phair, a grand institution that once stood under our feet.

On Sunday, February 24 at 2 p.m., the Nelson Library hosts Afternoon Tea at the Hotel Phair.

Gretchen Hatt Gibson, daughter of proprietor Edwin Phair, will address a 1928 meeting of the Ladies Literary Society — and you can be there. The character of Gibson is played by storyteller Susan LeFebour.

Local historian Pat Rogers wrote the story of the Phair for a Kootenay Storytelling Festival performance by LeFebour, in which 122 years disappears in a heartbeat:

“In October 1891 the Phair opened her doors, and oh, she was grand. There were 35 rooms, steam heat, hot and cold water, electric bells, flush closets, baths, a bar, parlours, billiard tables and dining facilities. The Honeymoon Suite could not be rivaled anywhere in the Interior….”

Eventually the Hotel Phair became the Strathcona Hotel, where she remained as a grand old hotel until a spectacular fire in 1955 took her down.

The new building would house the Royal Canadian Mounted Police — and much later, in 1990s, the Nelson City Police on the top floors, and at street level — your Library.

The event and display is in recognition of B.C. Heritage Week.

Admission is by donation.

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