In the early 1900's Edmonton was a bustling and growing town, in part due to the Gold Rush in the Yukon. Around this time the Low Level Bridge was being built after Edmonton had been hit with one of the worst floods on record in 1899. In 1903, an upstart publication called the Edmonton Journal first started publishing, five years later the University of Alberta came into being, and street cars were starting to make their way up Jasper Avenue.
It was during all of this growth with a growing population of 24,900 that the Union Bank of Canada, located then a bit further up the street, decided there was a need for change. The Branch Manager at the Union Bank of Canada, John Anderson felt that in order to keep pace with other financial institutions in the community he had better have a new building to match his bank's status.
In 1910 he commissioned Edmonton Architect, Roland Lines to design a new building. This architect had a number of impressive structures to his credit including the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Alex Taylor School, McCauley School and the Lambton Block. Unfortunately his brilliant career was cut short when he was killed in Europe during the war.
The newspapers of the day were awed by his design. On July 7, 1910 Edmonton Bulletin said:
"The new Union Bank on the South Side of Jasper Avenue on which construction has commenced will cost between $55-60,000. The building will be 50 feet by 80 feet, three stories of steel framework, and will have two fireproof floors. Edinger & Nesbitt are the contractors. The general design is what is termed as 'Modern Renaissance'. Ionic pilasters will be freely used as well as attractive cornices. The base will be solid Bedford stone, which is a white stone and is a variety of limestone peculiar to Indiana. Practically the entire front will be stone, there will be just enough pressed red brick used to lend color."
As the years passed things changed and so did this structure. The Union Bank was taken over by the Royal Bank, and for a number of years the structure was known to Edmontonians as the Northwest Trust Building. With so much of Edmonton's Heritage slipping away with new construction, new life was about to be breathed into the Union Bank Building. Taken over by Edmonton Real Estate Broker Diane Buchanan, Diane drew upon her experiences and her enjoyment of Inns in her travels to Europe. Her vision is what we see today in the rebirth of the Union Bank Building, to the Union Bank Inn, which opened in 1997. The facility was awarded a Historic Designation Award, which we display proudly to this day. With increasing demand, a new addition was added, bringing the Inn into the new millennium. The new wing then featured 20 business class guestrooms and suites along with our elegant Giverny Ballroom.
It was at the time of the new expansion that Shelley Klein, a career hotelier, was brought on board, and took Diane's vision to the next level. After three years together Shelley and Diane were about to see a further evolution in 2003. Shelley's husband, Wes Klein, sold his interest in his business and was about to reinvest in a new company and create a new partnership. That partnership was Shelley and Wes partnering with Diane Buchanan in the Union Bank Inn. We are very proud of our strong partnership, and the wonderful team at the Union Bank Inn.
We are proud to maintain the history of the Union Bank building, blending the best of the old and new, while being honored with the Historic Preservation Award. Many interesting artifacts can be seen throughout the hotel. Enjoy the history and the charm!