'Heartbreaking': Kamloops residents reflect on demolition of decades-old hotel, nightclub | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'Heartbreaking': Kamloops residents reflect on demolition of decades-old hotel, nightclub

The Northbridge Hotel at 377 Tranquille Road in Kamloops is being demolished.

A building with a long and entertaining past has been demolished to make way for new housing developments on Kamloops North Shore, leaving some residents feeling nostalgic.

The Northbridge Hotel and former Duchess strip club hold many memories for some residents, while older residents hold fond memories of the times they spent there decades before when it was the Village Hotel and Outbacks Nightclub.

Resident Bayne Armstrong said the loss of the building is heartbreaking and “a bummer.” He worked at the Village Hotel and partied at Outbacks in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“We went to party there every Friday night, the peelers were in the front and the backside was Outbacks, because it was out back,” he said. “It was a blast.”

Armstrong rang in the new year with friends in the venue at the turn of the century.

“In the morning, we were hung over, the place was in shambles, there was corruption everywhere,” he said. “Me and two others cleaned up the entire bar. At noon people started coming downstairs, no one drove home, we just stayed in the rooms there, they didn’t charge in those days. I had room 129 for years.

“You spent a Friday night there and staggered up to your room, so the party just continued on into the next day.”  

Rebecca Jones-Howe remembers the building as a familiar feature in the neighbourhood when she was growing up.

“As a kid going to school, we had to walk behind the cold beer and wine store that was right there and my mom was always worried about because of the types of people around there. It was associated with being a negative place but I never had any bad interactions walking by.”

She later worked at the Northbridge Hotel as a housekeeper.

“They tried to rebrand it and make it appealing,” she said. “The first couple of floors were the dancers’ rooms which were trashed and the upper floor was used for business people. There were tampons all over the floor, I learned a lot about a different lifestyles, it was interesting.”

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The building at 377 Tranquille Road started as the Village Hotel that opened in the mid-20th century, and while the exact date it opened isn’t clear, both Armstrong and Jones-Howe said the building was full of furniture from the 50s.

“It was cool, like walking into a little museum and thinking about what it once looked like,” Jones-Howe said. “The janitor rooms had washing machines from the 50s and they were still using furniture from the era at the bar in the back.”

The building once housed The Duchess Club, the last of the city’s strip bars. It was a popular nightclub hosting wet T-shirt contests, live dancers, live DJs and rappers.

“The place was a morgue when it went to the Duchess, it lost its shine,” Armstrong said. “The bunch that used to go just quit going and it just became no fun. I don’t know what year the hotel was sold but it went downhill quick. New owners were renting rooms and took the fun out of it. Outbacks was closed for storage.”

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In 2019 The Duchess quit offering to host exotic dancers and focussed on being a nightclub before it closed soon after. 

“I don’t think it was a bad place, they did the best they could to keep the business growing as demographics changed,” Jones-Howe said. “It being a nightclub and strip club and stuff, I think the neighbourhood changed over time and wasn’t into that sort of entertainment anymore.”

In 2021 the City of Kamloops bought the property the hotel sits on. The building wasn’t in good structural shape and had damaged windows and a leaky roof.

A demolition crew started tearing the building down earlier this month

“I understand having a crumbling building isn’t helpful, but it’s sad when something old with history has to get torn down, there is nostalgia,” Jones-Howe said.

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Armstrong echoed the sentiment.

“It’s heartbreaking to see it come down, there are so many fond memories there. It was important to our community for a long time, there are guys from that time that have passed away and others I still meet around town and catch up with, it was literally the good old days.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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