On Mothers Day, May 8th, 1983, every mother in town received the present they were hoping for. The end of the storied Albion Hotel. Built in 1883 by brothers John and Angus McLeod, the hotel stood for 100 years, playing host to stage coaches and rail passengers to The Hells Angels, metal bands and to the most outrageous stories of debauchery. Among other things…



Here are some of the photos from the Yosh Tashiro Archive the day the Albion burned.




Firefighter rescuing the beer.

Firefighter rescuing the beer.





A sad day for many loyal patrons.

A sad day for many loyal patrons.


As with all Yosh photos, if you see an inaccuracy or can add insight to these pictures, please leave a comment and help us rebuild the lost history of Portage la Prairie.

Check out our other Albion Hotel fire Post for more pictures:

 New Albion Hotel Fire Photos Discovered

Firefighters run from collapsing wall.

Firefighters run from collapsing wall.




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16 Responses


    Sorry but i dont remember anything other than a great place of awesome bands and great people to party with! Nothing scuzzy just baby boomer hang out!!

  2. Anthony Connolly

    I remember the story well — I wrote it for the Daily Graphic.
    I was on my ten speed heading back home from a soccer practice when I came across the scene. My colleague Gordon (I forget his last name) was there — you can see him in one of the pictures. He had to cover another story, so I took over and wrote the piece about how the fires started and what it meant. For years, a collage of newspaper stories and pictures were featured on the menu at Wayne’s Inn (now gone I believe) and there was my story.
    Thanks for the memory.

    • William Plenty

      Wow. Thanks for that info. Going to try to find that menu somehow. One of the enduring myths of Portage la Prairie is the Albion and its demise.

      • Donna

        I worked at Wayne’s inn , Wayne and julie were actually family friends and stood in my sisters wedding ! I really don’t remember that being on the menu but if you ever find a copy of love to see it . That was my very first job as a teen, great memories . As for chocolate bar who was mentioned , I think he moved onto the Gordon after it burned down that or the portage hotel !

  3. mike chrest

    My father, Fred Chrest, took my brother and sister there to watch the fire when we drove by. I looked for us in the picture but did not see us.
    He did mention in the days following , that the word on the street is that was a SAFE buried under the debris in the basement…
    We thought at first it was a fathers tale to his children , although the urban legend of a buried safe ,at the old Albion Hotel site was still being told in the former Portage Hotel , years later. Before it also burned down

  4. Soup

    Wow, a great place to dance and party!! Great people!! Truly one of a kind place. Met my husband there, married in ’83!

  5. Connie Declercq

    Wow! That brings back memories. My husband Don Declercq was one of the volunteer fireman. He’s in the pic with the face masks on, the one on the left. He tells the story of searching for the fire source through smoke filled halls where you couldn’t see a thing and banging on doors of rooms to get everyone out. They weren’t out 2 minutes and the walls all collapsed.

  6. greg

    What can I say, I saw too many things that I cannot forget in the Albion. No kidding, I spent well over a thousand evenings and hundreds of afternoons in that “fine establishment. My first time walking through that door, was in 1977, I was 16 yrs old. I wanted to see The Crackers a, well, a band, a very unforgettable band. Every time they played in the Albion, they said” only in the Albion”. Anyways back to walking through that door, the first thing you run into, a bouncer that goes by the name of ChocolateBar. He looks me up and down and says ” I don’t know how old you are, but you are big enough, go right in. I saw The Crackers, paid 50 cents for a glass of some high quality draft. When the ashtrays were full, the waitresses would come along, pick the ashtray up and effortlessly , dump the butts on the carpet, that if I remember right , looked like a physcodelic design, from , well…. The 70’s. I continued to walk through that door , for 7 years. Saw at least a hundred fights, in a couple too. Naturally had to check out the dancers a couple of times. Most had regular names, but there was some like Chiquita and Natasha that seem to stand out a bit more. The bands……… Some pretty high calibre, I thought so anyway, as already stated , The Crackers, Three Penny Opera, Cambridge, who later changed their name to Queen City Kids. There was even an “A” list Vegas 12 piece band called Spectacle. There was Harlequin and StreetHeart and probably the most well known of all Helix. Somewhere I think I still have my leather and lace t-shirt. Helix’s 1st album, that went gold, had 4 songs on it that were recorded in the Albion. They played in the Albion 3 times, and they loved it. I actually spent quite a bit of time with Helix everytime they came to town. If you mentioned my name to them, they wouldn’t remember me until you mentioned Dick’s Café. I was in there with the band, having supper and a rather large drunk fellow came in and started to cause a scene with us for some unknown reason, and started a fight with me inside the restaurant. RCMP were called, and took the drunk to jail. We finished our supper and went back to the Albion. Another band that was fairly well known, was Tall, I remember the reason that they were called Tall, the lead singer and bass player were brothers and both were 6’4″. In fact they are listed on the sign at the entrance of the Albion in the above picture. Tall was the last band to grace the stage in the famous Albion Hotel. I am sure somebody could write a book called “The Albion”. There is many more stories I could tell, but my fingers are getting sore.

    • juanita

      oh my!! what memories!!! i was 14 when i first went there…with my mother non the less…..crazy childhood….we saw the male strippers…i think she brought me cause i am tall and broad shouldered….for protection…..and yes..I was allowed to drink….when the bouncer looked at me and asked my age he said the same thing!!!! hhahha!!!! learning how easy it was…my tall friend and I would frequent the place…oh the 70’s….crazy times for sure!!

  7. Lorraine

    I remember the Albion Hotel in the 80s. I met Chocolate Bar there too. They had great bands, people who liked to party. I think I was under age going there. But Chocolate Bar never let anyone bother my cousin or me. He looked after us, with no strings attached! Then, it was time to move on to other adventures, I was very young and on the go! I always wondered what ever happened to Chocolate Bar. A couple years ago I heard Chocolate Bar was in the Seven Oaks Hospital . So I went to visit him. He did remember who I was (just older). He was happy to know that I’ve manage to have a good life. I was surprised to see Chocolate Bar in Winnipeg on the streets of Main & Higgins, he said this is home. May the creator keep an eye on him!

  8. Lyall

    well – interesting to read. I remember my days in the Albion being some of the funnest times of my life – however – it burning down probably saved me a lot of money as it was a long time before anything came even close to it for a establishment to be entertained at . The bands , including all listed , but Saturday afternoon sessions with Charlie, Guy , Billy Asham , maybe even a guy named Robbie with the standard shut down for supper hour when we would head to the Portage hotel and then back again at 7. Does anyone remember how hard it was to see in the afternoons out of the west back door of the bar into the bright sunlight. Sometimes it seems like your vehicle stayed there from friday night until sunday . Orville “clean the shoot” , Jeanny , and of course Choc were all great people to have as friends . Space invaders one very popular game , even to the point where the machine got stolen out of the bar one evening . Tall R&C for 85 cents . The last memory of people crying on the streets on the day of the fire . All good memories

  9. Wayde Drain

    Very interesting! Wow, does this bring back memories. I bought my first case of beer from Chocolate Bar in 1975 when I was 16. Seen most of these bands with lots of Saturday afternoon jams with the boy’s. My dad even played in the Albion Hotel. I didn’t know Bruce picked up his wife Soup at the Albion.

    I just got back from a 7 month New Zealand /Australia trip that day it burned down, May 8th, 1983. I see Anthony Connolly covered the story in 1983 and commented on this in 2014. I would like to see that story. Anthony Connolly and I were in Australia at the same time and apparently I just missed his going away party. I was suppose too hook up with some friends and go to this party. Never happened. My friends that went to the party found out Anthony was from Canada and they said they were staying with a Canadian and that I was supposed to be there with them, do you happen to know him, Wayde Drain…OMG…What’s the chances!!!

    I have one story to share about the Albion Hotel. Larry Lavallee and I were sitting at the back watching Harlequin and there was a beautiful young lady sitting by herself in front of the band. I stood up to go talk to her and Larry thought I was going for more drinks and he wanted a couple more. I said “I was going to talk to that girl” and he said, “Oh, she’s with the band” and I sat down. Years later I met the same girl at The Beaver Dam Country Rock Concert. She thought it was so strange that no one would ever talk to her when she was at the Albion Hotel. I married that girl a few years later, Darlene Drain.

    Wow! Lots of good memories flooding back.

  10. Alice McLeod

    What an amazing history to say the least! My husband is the great grandson of Angus McLeod and we often heard stories from my late father in law, of him, as a young boy going to the Albion hotel for Sunday lunches with his father Ernest McLeod, his grandfather
    Angus and his Uncle John back in the late 1920’s.

    I wonder what they would have thought if they had known that it was still standing one hundred years later.

  11. tarra pope-savoie

    Hi! I am researching a McLeod family from PLaP. I am stuck and hope you might have info that can either rule in or rule out persons on my family tree. Please contact me at Tarra_Bruce@hotmail.Com

    Thank you


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