Port Hope – Historic Hotels

Friday, October 4, 2019

The 1840’s and 1850’s were a prosperous time for the town of Port Hope.  With steamers coming into the harbour and then the arrival of the Grand Trunk Railway and the Port Hope Lindsay and Beaverton Railway in the 1850’s there was a great need for accommodation in town.  The business directory of 1857 lists 13 hotels or inns for the thirsty traveler to choose from.  Several of these historic hotels are still in town and are listed on the roster of Heritage Buildings.  While visiting town I set out to look for a few of them.  Most of the downtown is composed of original architecture and it is a great place to explore.  You can do so on foot after parking for free near the town hall on Queen Street.

1825 – The Marsh Inn served as a stagecoach inn between 1834 and 1854.  It is one of very few original stagecoach inns that have been preserved.  The veranda is not part of the original inn and draws attention away from the door which was the original focal point for the building.   The door appears to have molded columns but these are actually ten inlaid panels that are placed in a detailed surround.  The door has a full-width fanlight that is partially hidden by the veranda.  This inn is on the former Danforth Road, now known as County Road 2, just west of Welcome.  I checked it out on the way into town by going north at the Wesleyville exit from the 401.  A brief side trip south on the same road brings you to the ghost town of Wesleyville.

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1837 – The Ganaraska Hotel was originally opened and was named the Railway Hotel from 1856-1857 when the Midland Railway ran down Ontario Street and past the front door.  Starting in 1864 it went through a series of owners who each applied their name to the hotel.  In 1947 it once again became the Ganraska Hotel and it continues to operate after 182 years.

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1844 – The North American Hotel was built in a prominent position on Walton Street, intended to be the focal point at the end of Queen Street.  It served as a hotel until 1911 also providing stagecoach and livery services.  The stables were kept behind the hotel and could be accessed via the alley between the hotel and the building next door.  The hotel was converted into a pair of street level stores with apartments on the upper two floors in 1919.

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1845 – The piece of land that the Waddell Hotel was built on was formerly an island in the middle of the Ganaraska River.  After the river was diverted into the single channel the area of Mill Street was infilled from marsh land to form another access route to the harbour.   The building originally had retail on the ground floor and a two story hotel above that was reached through a central door off Walton Street.  A Bank of Montreal and a Toronto Bank were located on the Mill Street side of the block.  It remained with the Waldell Family until 1899 and was later converted to residences above ground floor retail.  It has a unique feature in the lantern on the roof top that served as a lighthouse for the harbour.

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1845 – The British Hotel is extremely narrow at just twenty-four feet wide encompassing the three bays.  The front has been altered several times over the years including the fact that the original openings were two stories tall.

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1845 – Midland Hotel was erected in 1845 but as only the first three bays on the right hand side of the building.  When the Midland, Lindsay and Beaverton Railway passed behind the hotel in the 1850’s a second wing with three more bays was added to the north.  A carriage way with another unit above it was used to connect the two sections.  The railway never made it to Georgian Bay so it failed to produce the ridership expected and with the advent of personal automobiles the hotel industry faded from prominence.  In 1917 the hotel was converted into three apartment units.  The carriageway was covered up and forgotten until renovations in 1984 revealed its presence.

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1853 – St. Lawrence Hotel Block is perhaps the largest hotel structure to survive as it is four stories tall and seventeen bays long.  One interesting architectural feature is the detail in the cast iron window heads which changes with each floor level.  The entire block was damaged in a fire in 1965 and was nearly demolished.  In the end it was restored and is now in use as apartments.

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1870 – The Walton was originally named The Queens Hotel when it was built and was a single story tall.  A second story was added in 1876 and a third one in 1907.  Today the hotel is closed awaiting renovations into residences.

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Port Hope prospered because of the railways that passed through town and a companion post will soon be published on the history and relics of the Midland, Lindsay and Beaverton Railway.  A post on the local Ghost Town of Wesleyville can be found at the link.

Google Maps Link: Port Hope

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Google Maps Link: Port Hope

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

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