“The Manitoba was one of Winnipeg’s show buildings,” according to a February 9, 1899, editorial in the Telegram. “Its imposing dimensions testified to the importance of the prairie capital, as well as the enterprise of the corporation which erected it; and the comfort and luxury which it afforded to the travelling public, predisposed strangers favourably towards the city and made Winnipeg a welcome stopping-off place in the itinerary of tourists.”
But it was far from a typical accident as Sampson experienced first-hand the destruction of what was then a celebrated Winnipeg landmark. In the early morning hours of February 8, 1899, the Manitoba Hotel, hailed as the most elegant hotel between Montreal and Vancouver, burned to the ground. After the flames ran out of fuel, all that remained of the hotel at the southeast corner of Water Avenue (now William Stephenson Way) and Main Street was an empty shell, its interior completely gutted and much of its exterior brick work collapsed.