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Kress Hotel was known for relaxation, fine dining and dancing

Chef Wayne whips up a sirloin roast inspired by the Kress Hotel in this month's Let's Eat

In 1956, my dad got a premonition to head chef at the Iroquois Hotel so we could now move from Forbes Street Hespeler to a larger house on 23 Albert St. in Galt.

This was especially great for my mom who worked all three shifts at Newlands for this to happen. My dad started early each morning by catching a trolley or bus to Galt to open the Iroquois Hotel kitchen, so after moving to Galt it meant he would have more at home time.

It was always a special event for us to get picked up by the hotel chauffeur and driven to the Kress Hotel for an overnight stay and celebratory dinner.

The Kress had quite the reputation for serving continental fare and some of the area's most delicious home comfort desserts.


Dad rented the deluxe room suite with a personal healing water tub which was an interesting spa experience that I have never forgotten. It was the first time I remembered my mom being so relaxed and happy.

The chef came over to say hi to my dad and suggested the signature sirloin roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, carved table side, would be on the house.

Both my brother and I rarely got dressed in a suit jacket just to dine, and being served by another professional chef was very exciting.

Over the years I became a regular at the Kress when it became a premiere nightclub and live music venue featuring dining and dancing to local bands indoors and on the outdoor patio right up until it closed.

During its heyday, the North American Hotel fronting on King Street began the hotel hospitality legacy in the 1840s as one of the first pioneer accommodations.

In 1871, Christopher Kress purchased the original North American Hotel on King at Fountain Streets. It was enlarged in 1900 and renamed the Kress Hotel.

Beside it was the Sulphur Springs Bath House and the Hotel was built on in the mid-1890s.

Behind the hotel stood acres of beautifully groomed landscaped riverside grounds with colourful gardens and immaculate lawns with seating for guests to take in the summer sunsets or gaze at the stars from the dance pavilion.

The hotel grounds had romantic vistas in every direction and seasonal skating and cross country skiing during the winter months.

This gave the visitors a relaxing environment to complement the outdoor healing mineral baths and the hotel's deluxe spa and personal healing water room services.

It was those healing baths that beame the major attraction to Preston. People came from all over Canada, the United States and Europe to be healed, pampered and "cleansed."

Christopher Kress was born in 1824 in Baden, Germany and came to Canada with his parents in 1837 where they settled in Wilmot Township.

He first worked on a farm for Noah Shantz and Joel Good and later went to work for Clare and Beck in Preston.

In 1857, he purchased and operated the smallish Black Bear Hotel. By 1871, he purchased the North American Hotel from the Cornell estate and operated the establishment until the 1900s when the hotel was demolished due to its age and limited capacity.

A more modern and larger, four-storey, red brick hotel, renamed the Kress House was erected as a replacement.

On April 7, 1908, Kress died, leaving his wife and four children. He was buried at the Preston cemetery.

Mr. Kress was well known and was fond of horses, becoming one of the founders of the Speed Park Race Track in Preston. 

Some years back, this ramshackle corner of western Preston was known as Cambridge Town.

After the Kress and Del Monte Hotel mineral baths became known worldwide for healing the weak and ailing, the area developed into a well known commercial location then operated by Pres. Graham Motors Enterprises. 

The Kofe-Bar restaurant was part of the Kress as an overflow diner offering breakfasts and lunches with river views back In the 1940s. 

Entrepreneur Pres Graham with his auto dealership and service station next door added needed parking and outdoor space for weddings.

In 1945, a fire destroyed the original Kofe-Bar restaurant and from the ashes rose the Knotty Pine, rebuilt under new ownership with the Jacque's family and renamed in the 1950s.

Many of the local folks had worked at the Kress and heard their stories about the many great years being a benchmark with high quality service with pride.

Here is the Kress Hotel carvery recipe for most excellent Sirloin Beef Roast results. 

roast sirloin

Carved Roast Sirloin of Angus Beef

I like the beef sirloin cut because of its adaptability to all types of cooking procedures.

Usually it’s a great section of beef for barbecue steaks, or brining for wood smoked beef.

I look for one with a nice fat cap and marble ratio. I also look at the amount of silver skin tissue needing to be trimmed. Talking it over with your butcher is the best way to have a sirloin explained about what part is best for the end result. The butcher can custom cut the leaner portions of the wider butt section or the fattier loin.

Create a simple dry rub by combining chili paprika powder, kosher salt, garlic and onion garlic powders, fresh ground black pepper, brown sugar, dry mustard.

Massage and season the raw roast on both sides with the rub. 

The longer the spice rub stays on, the more intense the end result flavors.

  • A 5 to 6 pound roast will feed 8 hungry diners

For the rub ingredients use fresh as possible.

  • 2 tablespoons chili paprika powder
  • 1 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons keens dry mustard
  • 1 bay leaf, crushed
  • 6 lbs beef sirloin, with trimmed fat cap
  • 1 1/2 cups bullion beef stock

Let it rest on the counter for an hour before placing it in a roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place the roast uncovered on the lowest rack for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and continue to roast for 2 hours undisturbed.   

Collect the roast juices from the pan and skim off the fat drippings adding some  brandy with horseradish will make a great beef au jus sauce.

A good rice pilaf and some roasted onions, mushrooms, peppers and cauliflower will make a great vegetable side to this very flavourful sirloin beef roast. 

Let's Eat! 

Chef Wayne Conrad Serbu writes monthly for CambridgeToday. The former executive chef also shares recipes and memories from his more than five decades in the hospitality industry on his blog, the kitchenman.