Red Deer Reality Rant #5 - Black Knight, Theatre of Dreams
For today’s rant I will take the opportunity to mourn the loss of an iconic Red Deer landmark: the Black Knight Inn. The visual landscape of Gaetz Avenue south is forever changed now that the venerable hotel is gone. I saw it coming down this past week, and it is now only a pile of rubble. When MNP announced that Black Knight Inn had gone into receivership in August of 2020, myself and I am sure many Red Deerians did not yet believe that it was to be gone forever. Surely someone might buy the building, being that it was only 40+ years old, 45 years old at the time of demolition!
In their heyday, Black Knight Inn was a convention centre, hotel, ticket office, live dinner theatre, with a 5 star restaurant, lounge and swimming pool. I have great memories of Remington’s restaurant with it unrivalled and outstanding salad bar, and of events I attended in various banquet rooms, and especially of the dinner theatre operated by C.A.T - Central Alberta Theatre. C.A.T is continuing to put on their productions of live dinner theatre and is located at the Memorial Centre downtown.
I had high hopes that the restaurant Remington’s would reopen elsewhere in Red Deer and I do not know the story there, but it has not, and Red Deer has lost the best gourmet western food to be had in central Alberta. Before I became vegetarian, I frequented the lounge at Black Knight Inn for it’s famous specials, but even then that salad bar in the restaurant was the greatest deal in town.
I also hope that someone managed to rescue the amazing chandelier that was in the lobby. I believe it was the most beautiful in Red Deer although I always thanked my lucky stars that I was not the one who had to clean it. It was enormous, a sparkling monstrosity that could never be in someone’s home. However, I hope someone got it out of there before the demolition. I also remember the great chairs in the lounge, like so many thrones in a giant’s home. They were quite old and in bad repair, but nevertheless memorable.
45 years is not a super long time for a building, and there are many hotels 100+ years old still standing and in far worse repair than the Black Knight Inn was. It is a testament to the disposable nature of Canadian architecture, and I wish we could restore old buildings rather than tear them down. We should at the very least build our new ones to last, like buildings do in Europe and abroad. You won’t find any castles in Red Deer, but some historical buildings have been saved.
So now I lament the loss of this grand old hotel, that would be considered so very young in most other cities. Farewell, Black Knight Inn, and may the grounds become a new building that parallels your former grandeur and even excels it, built from stone or other permanent materials.