January 16, 2024
Today at approximately 1:30am first responders from the Bentley Fire Department responded to a fire at the Monkey Top Saloon in Bentley.
Fire Fighting efforts were supported by Bentley, Lacombe County, City of Lacombe, Blackfalds, and Eckville Fire Departments. The fire is under control and has been isolated to the Monkey Top and liquor store building. We are thankful for the support of our local and neighboring fire departments.
The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing and nothing has been determined at this time. In addition, based on what we know there are no casualties, and no one was injured in the fire. It is a sad day for Bentley as we have lost another important historical building. Just over a year ago we experienced the loss of the iconic grain elevator and today we have lost the Monkey Top.
The original building Putland & Thorp site was destroyed by a fire in 1919. The gentlemen who owned this store were Archie Putland and Frank (Cappy) Thorp. Cappy was the first Mayor when Bentley was first incorporated into a village in 1915.
The Putland & Thorp building was replaced by the Bentley Co-Operative under the management of Mr. Bolton, and lastly by Chas MacDougall. The business was sold to WM. A. Holmes in 1933 and operated as the Bentley Mercantile. In the early years supplies were brought in by train and picked up by horse and dray and delivered to the store. Later Mr. Holmes purchased a truck and would drive to Edmonton for supplies. Store merchants were well known for carrying credit for many customers during the 1930 depression years. Nostalgic memories include the smell of freshly oiled floors, buying a slab of cheese cut from the bulk cheese cutter, seeing bananas hanging from the ceiling and the fact that Mr. Holmes would deliver groceries with his Chevrolet car in the Lockhart area where he could be greeted with an invitation to stay for a home cooked meal.
The building has stood for many years and most recently, until today as the Monkey Top a staple for residents, tourists, and visitors regardless of if they were the leather worn, done it all biker or the time worn seen it all senior or families having a meal with their kids after checking out the amazing businesses or farmers market in Bentley. It was a place of celebration for our hockey and ball teams and for the parents who drive their kids to and from games and practices. The Monkey Top was not just a place to gather, but a place where it did not matter what your background or style is. It was a place of spirited declaration of independence and togetherness.
Mayor and Council, along with administration would like to thank the first responders for their efforts to keep the community safe and ensure that the fire was isolated to the Monkey Top Building. Our empathy also goes out to the property owner for their loss and the challenges ahead in working with insurance.
Sincerely, Marc Fortais, Chief Administrative Officer