For decades, the Somass Hotel was a fixture at the bottom of Argyle Street in Port Alberni.
Historian Glen Mofford wrote about the Somass Hotel in his book Along the E&N: A Journey Back to the Historic Hotels of Vancouver Island.
According to Mofford, the original hotel on the site was called the Armour Hotel. It was purchased in 1898 by Arthur E. Waterhouse and the name was changed first to the New Alberni Hotel and then to the Somass Hotel. A larger, four-storey hotel was constructed in 1902 behind the original building and a further three-story extension was added in 1908 that faced Argyle Street.
This photo from the Alberni Valley Museum shows the hotel circa 1920, in its early years.
In 1947, the hotel’s main building was destroyed in a fire. The hotel was rebuilt and continued to operate over the next sixty-six years before closing. The building was sold to Uchucklesaht First Nation in 2013, after which it was demolished. The Thunderbird building re-opened in its place.