Cafes, bakeries, deli's and fast food stands - part one

One of the first places to eat on the lakefront was a hot dog stand operated by the Snell family in 1931.

The stand was in front of their cabin called ‘Butt Inn’ which in 1933 was sold to Mrs. Collins to become the Home Grill.

The stand itself was an old car chassis covered in old canvas and painted a bright green with red diamonds and white printing.

Even during the Depression, the business was a success with hot dogs and egg sandwiches costing 10 cents each. Perhaps the sign by the stand contributed to the success -- 'CUM AND EAT BEFORE WE BOTH STARVE'.

Nellie (Jarvis) Watson worked in several eating establishments in Sylvan Lake and has fond memories of them – especially the Watkiss ‘Eat Café’ in the vicinity of the former Cast Away Sports.

She remembers white walls, red stools, a soda fountain and u-shaped counters.

These were the war years and in Nellie’s own words, “Nothing was more exciting than to have Mr. Watkiss tell us there was a convoy in town.

"This meant 30 to 50 soldiers all wanting pie, coffee and milkshakes.”

Of course, the staff of young girls was very interested in these visits. A favourite menu item, particularly of the Australians, was a steak, fried potatoes, two to three eggs, and toast – topped off with a strawberry milkshake - all for $5.

This popular venue was operated by the Watkiss family from 1941 to 1964.

In 1937, the William Cameron family bought a bakery, deli and lunch counter from L.T. Churchill who also owned Tom’s Coffee Pot next door.

The business became Dell Bakery and Heather Lunch, and was situated approximately where Chelsea’s Restaurant, Artisans de Mexico were and is now occupied by the Spotted Gecko clothing store.

The Cameron home was behind the bakery and was later demolished to make way for the Sylvan Lake Mall.

The business changed hands several times down through the years: the Pickkerts in the 1950s and the Hoofdeckers also in the 1950s who changed the name to the Old Dutch Bakery and Café and then the Shippelts who owned it in the 1960s.

Excerpts from Reflections of Sylvan Lake

Bunny Virtue, Sylvan Lake Archives