A small southern Manitoba community is mourning the loss of a popular meeting place and the only beer vendor in town following a Christmas Day fire.
"It was one of the major things in town," said Bryan Nichols, a municipal councillor in the Rural Municipality of Franklin, whose ward includes Dominion City. Stan's Place, the former Queen's Hotel, burned to the ground early Christmas morning, fortunately with no one inside.
"It was Stan's Place, but a lot of people still called it the Queen's," said Nichols, who moved to Dominion City about 50 years ago.
"It certainly is a major loss to our community. It was always a meeting place," he said.
The town of about 350 people south of Winnipeg is located 20 kilometres north of the Canada-U.S. border.
"When any small community loses a hotel, it's really doubtful and hard to say whether it will be replaced. We're not that big now, but it certainly was a flourishing community at one time."
The Queen's Hotel was built in 1879, rebuilt in 1948 and fixed up again in 2003.
"I bought it about seven years ago and fully renovated it," said owner Stan Wiezbinski from his home in nearby Aubigny.
Wiezbinski said he's not sure yet if he will rebuild the hotel and go back to work there.
The owner said he doesn't know what caused the fire. He said the Office of the Fire Commissioner of Manitoba is investigating the cause. It appears the fire started on the east side of the building, Wiezbinski said.
Dominion City is sad to see the hotel go, Nichols said.
"It had off-sale and a bar," he said, noting it was the only place in town to buy beer.
"It will certainly be missed."
Nichols, a volunteer firefighter, was called to the blaze at about 6:30 a.m. Christmas Day.
"It had been going for awhile," he said. Firefighters were relieved no one was staying at the hotel.
"We could see there was no vehicle around and knew they didn't live there and had no residents. Everything was locked up."