Were you aware of the fact that at one time Lindsay could boast having the greatest number of hotels, per capita, of any other town in Ontario?
I made mention of this to a couple of elderly friends, and in each case they informed me that I was incorrect; "you could say in Canada, and be more accurate", I was told.
Consider that in the era I am writing about, Lindsay had a population of around forty-five hundred to five thousand people!
The Grand Union Hotel, now known as the "Grand Hotel was opened and managed by a Mr. John Wardrobe and his sister Miss Mabel Wardrobe. These people ran a nice operation and were known as the proprietors who never turned a person away from having a bed or meal even though the individual may have had no money! Find hospitality like that in the industry to-day.
The Hotel Benson was an extremely well known spot by travelers from near and far. This hotel, now the York Tavern, was built by the Benson family and eventually came under the management of Bill Nugent. Nugent was to become a member of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (as it was then known) and sold the business to Messrs. Dawe & Egan. Nugent had to sell the business because of conflict of interest guidelines.
On the south-east corner of Kent & York Sts, where Claxton's Department Store was located was W. H. Simpson's hotel known as "The Simpson House."
Mr. Thos. McConnell opened the Royal Hotel at Kent & Lindsay streets where the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce is now located. Later his son Joseph took charge but eventually sold the business because of the difficulty in obtaining help in running the dining room.
William Pym was owner and operator of the "Pym House" located where the F.W. Woolworth store was.
The property just west of Century Theater is the site where W.E.Veitch built the "Ashmore Hotel" and John Maunder was known to run the strictest hotel in town in his "Central Hotel" on William St. S., now "Paddy's Irish House."
Among all these hotels the "Butler House" bore the reputation of having the "longest bar in town." Jim Butler was the proud owner of this establishment that was later to be closed, renovated and became "Fee Motors" located on the south-east side of Kent & Cambridge streets.
It is also interesting to note that Mr. F. W. Sutcliffe, who owned a department store in Lindsay, decided to build a hotel where the "Bargain Store" is now located. Unable to decide on a name for his newest venture he chose to offer a prize to the person or persons who could think up the most suitable name for the hotel. Someone thought the names of his two daughters, Elsie & Muriel, should be combined and thus the new hotel became known as "The Elsmuir" and the laneway between Don Scott's and the Bargain Store was called "Elsmuir Lane."
Much to my surprise, I was to learn that there was also a hotel in the East Ward located at 56 King Street.
One of the most interesting facts is that all of these hotels had yards and sheds for farmers' horses and rigs where they could be attended to while the hotel's customers could quaff a few drafts and/ or enjoy a sumptuous meal at reasonable prices.
Just imagine, a big mug of beer for a nickel back then!