Fairview Hotel

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1897 to 22 Oct 1902
Location: Fairview, Okanagan-Similkameen, British Columbia, Canadamap
Profile manager: Chris Kilgour private message [send private message]
This page has been accessed 277 times.


Fairview Hotel, Built 1897, Destroyed October 22, 1902

The Fairview Hotel, known locally as the Big Teepee because of its distinctive tower/elevated balcony, was consumed by fire in the early hours of October 22, 1902.[1][2] Four people died and several were injured, one seriously.

[The hotel] is a three storey frame structure having 28 bedrooms and other necessary accommodation. It is well built and furnished, with dimensions 60 feet by 60 feet. The building had a wide main staircase leading from ground floor to third storey, also back staircase, and it is supposed that these [...] formed stairways for the flames, this cutting off all escape except by jumping from upstair windows for those who at the early hour of three o'clock would be asleep in their beds.[3]

Perhaps the saddest case was that of 18-year-old schoolteacher Louisa Smith, whose charred remains were found in the rubble. She had arrived in Fairview to take up her first teaching position just two months prior.[4]

Hotel manager Phil Mathias was badly burned after re-entering the burning structure. He passed away after several hours, in what must have been agonizing circumstances.

Lizzie Hunt was not burned, but badly injured after jumping from an upper-floor window. She was unconscious for eleven days, and passed away on her 33rd birthday.[5]

The final fatality was James Allen, an Englishman whose family had immigrated to Manitoba. He too was seriously injured after jumping, fracturing several bones and his spine, becoming paraplegic. After three months he passed away at hospital in Vernon.[6]

A coroner's inquest shed no light as to the origin of the fire.

The hotel was erected by the Fairview Corporation in 1897, and in 1901 was valued as an asset worth $20,000. It was insured in the Phoenix Fire Assurance Co. for $8,500.


Grouped by severity of outcome, then by age.

Name Circumstance Age
Philip Frederick Mathias Hotel Manager 47
Lizzie Hunt Hotel Housekeeper 32
James Allen Employee, Stemwinder Mine 30
Louisa Smith Schoolteacher 18
Seriously Injured
John Love Postmaster, Druggist 26
Edward Bullock-Webster Keremeos Farmer and J.P., Hotel Guest 38
Alice Wakefield Hotel Manager, Wife of Phil Mathias 35
Henry Birkitt Burtch Kelowna-Based Farmer, Butcher 30
Frank French Manager, Shatford's Store 27
Frank McKinley TBD TBD
Thomas George Twamley Clerk, Fairview Corporation TBD
Dr. Reginald Brant White Physician 29
Charles Arthur Cholmley Steward Miner 27
Winnifred Evelyn Mathias Daughter, Phil Mathias and Alice Wakefield 2
Unnamed Chinese TBD Head Cook TBD
Unnamed Chinese TBD Hotel Staff TBD

Research Notes

The identity of some hotel residents have proven difficult to ascertain with any accuracy.

Assumed Name Reported Name 1[1] Reported Name 2[2] Other Reported Names Rationale
Thomas George Twamley Peter Twombley Geo. Twornley Peter Townley, Peter Twombly, T. G. Twamley Thomas G. Twamley was on voter's list residing in Fairview, and paid by the provincial government to perform various local tasks, with various records covering the period 1900-1909.
Frank McKinley McKinley Frank McKinley Mr. McKinley, Frank McKinly, F. McKinley


  • A 1987 episode of Gold Trails And Ghost Towns focused on Fairview and particularly the hotel fire:[7]
    • Regarding fatalities, evidently Mr. Barlee limited his comments to the two burning victims. The two other people who died, of their injuries, were not mentioned.
    • Louisa Smith had been engaged to Dr. Reginald B. White, and her engagement ring was recovered from the hotel site in 1969.
    • Bill Barlee stated that Miss Smith was buried at Fairview Cemetery, but she was actually buried at Landsdowne Cemetery near Armstrong, after the funeral at Enderby.[8]
    • Bill Barlee stated that Phil Mathias had returned into the burning building to retrieve valuables. However, printed reports at the time all state Mathias had mistakenly thought his wife and daughter were trapped inside.
  • C. A. C. Steward and Edward Bullock-Webster must have been well-acquainted, and had been in 1901 enumerated nearby, in Keremeos.[9]
  • C. A. C. Steward and Alice Wakefield went into the hotel business together in Penticton, then married in 1906.
  • Dr. R. B. White remained close to C. A. C. Steward and Alice Wakefield, and was pallbearer at the latter's funeral.
  • Undoubtedly C. A. R. Lambly, local resident and government agent, was involved in the assistance and support of survivors and their families. He died in 1907, and Dr. Reginald Brant White subsequently married his widow, Hester.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Desperate Fight For Life", (1902, October 26). The Daily News [N]. doi:
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The Fairview Fire", Vernon News, October 30, 1902, page 1,
  3. "Fearful Fire At Fairview", Boundary Creek Times, October 24, 1902, page 1, doi:
  4. "Miss Smith, of Enderby, has arrived to take charge of the Fairview public school, vice Miss B. Moore.", Vernon News, August 14, 1902, page 8
  5. "Another victim...", Vernon News, November 6, 1902, page 5,
  6. "Provincial News", Victoria Daily Times, January 24, 1903, page 7,
  7. "Gold Trails And Ghost Towns: Fairview",
  8. "Miss Smith's Funeral", Victoria Daily Times, November 1, 1902, page 6,
  9. Fourth Census of Canada, 1901, British Columbia, District No. 5 Yale-Cariboo, S. District No. J, Polling sub-division No. 13, Yale East/Similkimeen, page 5, line 13,


Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.