Early Tuesday (Jan. 16) morning the Bentley District Fire Department responded to a fire at the Monkey Top Saloon.
Lacombe County, City of Lacombe, Blackfalds and Eckville Fire Departments also responded, helping the local crew contain the fire.
Bentley’s chief administrative officer Marc Fortais says the fire is under control and has been isolated to the Monkey Top and liquor store building.
“We're greatly thankful for the support of our local and neighbouring fire departments that have come to the aid of the community,” Fortais says.
The investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing, but the town has determined there were no casualties or injuries.
“It's definitely a sad day for Bentley. We've lost another important historical building for the community, just over a year ago, we experienced the loss of the iconic grain elevator, and today we've lost the Monkey Top,” Fortais says.
The Monkey Top building has a long-lasting history in the community.
The original building was owned by Archie Putland and Frank Thorp and was destroyed in a fire in 1919.
The building was replaced by the Bentley Co-Operative and then operated as the Bentley Mercantile in 1933, before transitioning to the Monkey Top, where supplies were brought in by train, picked up by horse then delivered to the store. Later the owner purchased a truck and would deliver supplies to customers in the area.
Fortais explains that the Monkey Top was a staple for residents, tourists, and visitors, and much more than just a gathering place, but a place of spirited declaration of independence and togetherness.
“There was no judgment going into that building. It was quite iconic in that you could see all different walks of life there,” Fortais says.
Going forward, Fortais says the owner has every intention of rebuilding when the investigation is completed.
“A huge thank you to all of the first responders for their efforts to keep the community safe and ensure that the fire was isolated to the Monkey Top building,” Fortais says. “Our empathy goes out to the property owner for their loss.”