History of the Airways
On numerous occasions people have asked me about the history of the Airways Country Inn. I
am amazed at the role this Hotel has played in economic development of Northern Alberta,
Edmonton and most recently Nisku. If these walls could speak, the stories they could tell.
The following is a brief history of the property And hotel now known as the
Airways Country Inn.
1913 -1927: The property was owned by “The Governor And Company of Adventures of
England Trading into Hudson Bay”. Even in the early days this property was located on the
North/South wagon route between Fort Calgary and Fort Edmonton.
1927 – 1957: The land was farmed by descendants of families still located in the County of
Leduc. They were: Wilhelm Lechelt, Adolf Zelt and Alexander Halwa.
1957 – 1975: The flamboyant Jake Superstien purchased the property and built the first
hotel servicing the Edmonton International Airport and south side of Edmonton. Located on Hwy. 2
between bustling cities of Calgary and Edmonton, it attracted guests the likes of Prime Minister
John Diefenbaker, Premiers and numerous world leaders. The hotel was also the major
accommodation used by Airline Staff. The Hotel Tavern (400 seats) was the first on the south side of
Edmonton to allow women and men to consume alcohol in the same room, however areas within the
Tavern were still segregated to “Men Only” and Ladies with Escorts”. Needless to say the hotel
became the entertainment hot spot for south Edmonton. Many have reminisced about those wild
days when Alberta and the Oil Industry played such an important role in the development of Alberta
1975 – 1979: The hotel changed ownership numerous times and had its ups and downs. It
was owned by characters such as Edward Wachowich, as well as C.G.S. Hotels, British America
Oil Company Ltd. And Francana Real Estate Ltd.
1979 – 1987: Ernie Wolver added the hotel to the numerous other properties he owned in
Edmonton and Northern Alberta. Ernie was definitely an influential leader in the Hospitality
Industry servicing Northern Alberta. Ernie’s other hotels included the St. Albert Inn, Bruin Inn
Westlock, Peter Pond Hotel, Fort McMurray and the Lac La Bishe Inn just to name a few.
1987 – 1989: The infamous Burnett Brothers purchased the property south of the hotel and
entered into an agreement with Imperial Oil of Canada (Esso). They commenced building the First
Truck Stop to service Hwy. 2, Nisku and the Edmonton International Airport. The land was
developed, the foundation of the new building was poured, and fuel tanks were placed underground,
but the project, like many in Alberta during the introduction on the National Energy Program, fell
upon hard times and was never completed.
1989 – 1997: The hotel was taken back by Ernie Wolver.
1997 – Present: The hotel was purchased by a group of investors spearheaded by Jack &
Clarence Shields. Major renovations have taken place over the last few years, re-establishing the
hotel’s prominence in servicing the accommodation needs of the Oil & Manufacturing Industries
located in Nisku and Northern Alberta.
The Hotel has had a colorful past and because of its location will continue to play an important role
in the future development on the International Airport, Nisku and Northern Alberta.