A moment in history: April 12, 1947

A moment in history: April 12, 1947

· The Pulse

On this day in 1947, the rebuilt Corona Hotel was advertising for guests.

Most are probably familiar with Edmonton's Corona LRT station (a station name that started hitting a bit differently, say, about three years ago). But not all know where that particular stop's name comes from.

The story starts in 1908 when architect James Edward Wize designed and built a commercial block bearing his name along Jasper Avenue at 106 Street. Wize was well-known in the city, having designed the Alberta Hotel a few years earlier, as well as several other buildings around Edmonton and northern Alberta. The Wize block originally contained retail shops but was transformed into the Corona Hotel after a few years.

As for where "Corona" came from, there is speculation that the hotel was named after corona cigars from Cuba, which were seen as a luxury item around that time. A 1910 postcard advertising the brick hotel touts it as fireproof, modern, and with attractive rates. A few decades later, one of those descriptors would prove to be untrue.

In 1932, the Corona Hotel was utterly destroyed by fire caused by a break in a natural gas line that ran under the building. One eyewitness claimed a local lawyer, who happened to be standing on a manhole cover while watching the fire, was flung "into a short orbit" by an explosion under the street. Eventually, fire crews defeated the fire, but little was left of the once luxurious hotel. A legal battle over who was at fault, which would have a big impact on Albertan jurisprudence, dragged along for years.

The hotel was rebuilt very quickly afterward, and Wize himself continued to run it until his retirement. It was eventually demolished in 1981. Even though the building was gone, the city decided to mark the history of the hotel two years later when Corona LRT station was built directly underneath where it once stood.

Early on in the coronavirus pandemic, there were a few who suggested changing the name of the Corona LRT station, although nothing came of the idea. (Efforts to rename other stations — for very different reasons — have gone ahead.) What the stop is called, and why, has become less of an issue lately, with more attention on safety concerns within the LRT system.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.