What is going on with that great old building at 81 Walton Street Port Hope, Ontario? For many years it was known as the Queen’s Hotel and in 1978 it underwent a name change to the Walton Hotel. For the last few years it has undergone many alterations inside and out. To the locals, either name brings back many memories of the only two places (the other was the Ganaraska Hotel) in town for a drink with your friends.
According to the Commercial and Industrial Port Hope Businesses Edition of 1916: “People who travel soon learn to appreciate the careful attention and real hospitality that is to be found at a first class hotel. The tide of travellers who are attracted to the Queen’s Hotel declare this to be one of the most home-like family hotels, as well as commercial houses in central Ontario. Indeed experienced travelers assert that in this regard it is without a rival between Toronto and Belleville. The Queen’s Hotel is one of the pioneer hostelries of Port Hope. It has been conducted by Mr. W. L. Bennett, its present property manager since November 1914. It is a three storey structure, centrally located on Walton Street. The house contains 50 guest rooms, is steam-heated throughout and under its present management has been thoroughly modernized and refurbished. Spacious parlours, bright, well ventilated comfortable furnished rooms with hot & cold running water, telephone connections, etc. It also has five large rooms for commercial men are prominent features of this establishment.
The patronage this house has built up is sufficient evidence of its favourable representation as a popular hostelry. The dinning- room is large and pleasingly decorated and the service appreciated by every guest. The café is provided with the choicest brands of liquors and cigars. Everything about the Queen’s Hotel shows good management. Only experienced help is employed, consequently the service is of the highest class.”
Long before the Queen’s Hotel described in the storey above, at 81 Walton Street at John Street was constructed at this prime location, there were many other hospitality establishments that occupied this site. In the early 1800’s a local pioneer Jacob Choate ran the earliest inn here. The Caldwell House was built on this lot in 1802 and operated by Choate until 1815. Later a frame building known as Strong’s Coffee Exchange House operated here and later became Thompson’s Hotel, later becoming the William Rowlands Hotel which was the only building on the block to survive the 1849 fire in Port Hope and operated until 1852. Another frame building was erected on this spot, the Durham House which was ran by John Heatherington and was gutted by fire in 1859.
Some Hotel Rules and Regulations: (1) Visitors are required to enter their names, etc. in the Register. (2) In the case of any carelessness, inattention or improper demeanor on the part of a servant of the House, towards the guest, the Proprietor begs to be made acquainted therewith without delay. (3) Guests will please deliver their Luggage, etc. into the care of the Proprietor or his Ostler, Porter, Waiter or Barkeeper and notice is hereby given, that otherwise the Proprietor will not hold himself responsible for the safety of property of any description. The usual meal hours, are respectively as follows, viz.: Breakfast at 8 o’clock AM; Diner, 1 o’clock PM, Tea, 6 o’clock PM. John Heatherington, Port Hope, January 2, 1854. This structure was rebuilt by William Bletcher and leased to Thomas Hastings who operated the Prince of Wales Hotel for a short time likely in honor of the visiting Prince of Wales and soon renamed the Hasting’s House.
In 1871 the present day building was erected by James Cochrane, initially only two storeys in height and five years later a third storey was added. The property was occupied by George Mackies Hotel and later by Robert Brodie under the name of the Queen’s Hotel which by 1878 was operated by Col. Allen A. Adams under the same name. In 1870, James Cochrane took out a mortgage on the block. A default of a mortgage on the Queen’s block in 1880 caused the Canada Permanent Saving and Loan Company to take possession of the property. By 1889 the property was sold to Mary Adams, wife of Allen A. Adams who had been the Queen’s proprietor since 1878. In 1901, Mary Adams sold the block to Lewis Bennett and in 1907 a large edition was added to the south side of the building. The ‘block’ combined accommodation on the upper floors and retail space on the lower floors. During the 1880’s the block was occupied by retailers C. F. Randall Hardware and Furniture store; Kell’s and Hill Clothing; S. Williams Tailor; Hugh Ross, Staple & Fancy Goods and George Hanson, Central Boot & Shoe Store.
The Queen’s Hotel name was changed to the Walton Hotel soon after the Bill Matiyek murder, a Golden Hawk biker by rivals of the Satan’s Choice in 1978. It was operated as a tavern until 2005 and sat empty for many years with the roof about to collapse and most of its windows broken. The building was designated in 1980.
Since closing, The Walton Hotel now appears to be owned by Ron Christopher who purchased the building with the intent of converting it to a boutique hotel with a large food component. Massive renovations have been completed on all floors of the building. According to the Dailey Construction News, in the dilapidated basement, nine concrete piers were poured with a steel column rising through the three storeys of the building. A steel and concrete deck was constructed over the first floor with a cement overlay which united many miss-matched floor levels that were installed over a century ago. Over seventy double-glazed, wood frame windows replicating the originals were installed along with an elevator and the hotels twenty rooms were roughed in ready for finishing at a letter date. At one time a grand opening date for the summer of 2010 was planned, that has not occurred yet!