The Hotel Winnipegosis was one of the first large buildings constructed in the small, growing community situated near the mouth of the Mossey River. It was built in 1897 by Mr. John Sieffert, Senior. He came from North Dakota in 1896, before there was a railway line here. He settled on a farm two miles south of town on the banks of the Mossey River. As well as being a farm, Mr. Sieffert was a carpenter. It is said that his trademark was the little dormer windows, such as the ones seen on the third storey of the old hotel.
At one time there were two hotels in Winnipegosis, the Hotel Winnipegosis on one corner and the Lakeview Hotel, – (F. Hechter Proprietor), across the street. The Lakeview was destroyed by fire about 1910. Later Mr. T.H. Whale had a building that was being used a community hall moved to the corner, and forming the T.H. Whale and Co., started a hardware business.
It seems strange that two hotels could survive in such a small village, but at the turn of the century, families were coming to the area in large numbers. In 1897, the branch of the Great Northern Railway Line was completed as far as Winnipegosis. The coming of the railway was followed by the arrival of many fisherman and their families, who came from Lake Winnipeg, the Georgian Bay area of Ontario and he northern States. East of town, by 1898, about half a dozen families had arrived and settled on farms. Many of the people coming to the village required accommodation in the hotels until some sort of housing could be provided for them.
In the years from 1910-1920 the hotel was the starting point for the dog races, a popular winter event. A picture given to the Winnipegosis Museum by Mr. Jum Denby shows the dog teams ready to start the race. Usually the distance to be covered was from the hotel to Snake Island and back, a run of about 25 to 30 minutes one way.
The Hotel Winnipegosis had changed in appearance and function over the years, as it has changed owners. When the hotel was first built, a company store occupied most of the ground floor.
The Bank of Nova Scotia, impressive with hardwood panelling and furniture, was for a time located at the back of the hotel.
Next to the Bank was a barber shop for men, women, and children, as there were no beauty salons then. In the late thirties, one of the rooms on the first floor was used by a dentist who came from Dauphin at various times.
At the front of the Hotel, Mr. L.A. Browse had a drug store and ice cream parlour. One 24th of May, the children of the town were invited to the drug store for an ice cream cone. Mr. Browse was an expert photographer, and in his store sold postcards showing the scenic views of Winnipegosis. The drug sore relocated in the building belonging to Mr. William Paddock, and then Mr. W.J. Howatson kept a store in the hotel.