“Welcome to Keno City!” Those words greeted us as we walked up to the old Keno City Hotel. Our welcome came from the heart of a man who enjoys sharing his town, his hotel, his dream….
Meet Leo Martel, a former miner, now turned entrepreneur who is rebuilding his dream, a relic of the days when Keno City was the center of Yukon’s silver mining industry – the Keno City Hotel. Since the 1980s, Leo has lived in Keno City and for the past several years has been saving his labor of love from falling down. Let’s just say that building codes weren’t enforced in the 1920s!
Leo has restored enough of the building to open a bar and restaurant and rooms upstairs. It is eclectic. Every room is different and every bed has a different bedspread. The bar is dark and moody and one wall is adorned with a quilt sewn by Leo himself.
Two ghosts are said to haunt the bar; one living upstairs in Room #12, the other sitting at the bar. Now, Leo will tell you he doesn’t believe in ghosts and to please not talk about them if there are First Nation people in the building. “It scares them, you know! I had one of my builders here the other day and told him we were going to build my casket. He took off running. He did come back a few hours later to tell me his was sorry for running off, but that I couldn’t talk about death or building a casket with him again. My casket still isn’t built.”
You have to love this man; we did just after a short period of time with him.