Pubs & Hotels of Old Port Hope, Ontario

In the eighteen eighties there were about fifteen licensed hotels in the town of Port Hope, Ontario.  Some of them were established for catering to the travelling public, others to local and out of town farmers and many were only drinking establishments.  Their only connection was that all were required to have more than two bedrooms and a small dinning room in order to qualify for a license.  Most of the early hotels only existed for the bar trade.  A local newspaper ad in 1864 proclaimed “Lambert’s Hotel on Ontario Street, Port Hope having been purchased by the undersigned, he is confident he will be able to retain the high reputation it has always enjoyed.  The rooms are well furnished- the bar is supplied with the best liquors and cigars, the table is excellent- while the stabling is the best in the United Counties.”   James Bradley.

The above mentioned Lambert’s Hotel (today the Ganaraska Hotel) started its life in 1837 and in 1856 as the Railroad Hotel and was later called the (William) Mathews Hotel.  From 1864-1859 was known as the (Charles) Lambert Hotel; Hugh Alexander Walker  in 1859 owned and operated the hotel from1860-1864.   From 1864 to 1880 Charles Lambert operated the hotel as Lambert’s.  In 1880 James Bradley owned the business which was sold in 1883 to his wife Charlotte Bradley upon his death in 1891.  There were many lessees between 1901 and 1904.

In 1901, Louis G. Bennett received a license renewal for the Bennett House Hotel.  From 1901-02 the business was run under a partnership of Lena Crawford and Hilliard C. Robson, which was dissolved, the hotel being leased the next year to Blake Crawford and William Brooks with a name change to the Ontario House.  In 1904 the business was purchased by Margaret Howard who continued to operate it under the same name for the next eighteen years.  Itheel Walter leased the hotel until 1915.  From 1918-1947 there were many owners listed for the hotel: Grace and Pearl Howard; Samuel Palmer; William Griffin; Lazar Bosheff; Mary Lowe; William Benson; James McElroy; John Lavin and Baden Hawtrey Powell.

The name of the hotel by 1947 was changed to the present day Ganaraska Hotel.  From 1947-1957 the Ganaraska Hotel was owned by Stanley Crossett; 1957-1968 , James Ingram; 1968-1974, Joseph and James McLennan; 1974-1977, Richard Emil Rogalski and Mike Sevcik under I.P.T. Investments and as of 1977 by Richard Emil Rogalski  (I.P.T.). The Ganaraka Hotel at 39, Ontario Street is the oldest pub still in operation after almost 185 years of continues business.

St. Lawrence Hall

The St. Lawrence Hall was constructed in 1853 at 80 Walton Street by Hiram Gillet at the time of Port Hope’s most significant period of economic growth.  The Grand Trunk Railway and the Port Hope Lindsay & Beaverton (Midland Railroad) reached the town and the harbour was being developed as well.  The Italianate style structure with limestone foundations , was built in an L shape consisting of a main four storey complex and a two storey complex  at the rear of the building.  The St. Lawrence Hall was run by William Mackie on the south side of Walton Street was the leading hostelery  until a fire about 1890 in the adjoining Opera House resulted in the hotel being closed for many years.  The St Lawrence today has retail business on the ground floor and apartments on the upper three floors.

The Queen’s Hotel was operated by Allan Adams then handled most of the commercial business alone for many years.  Built in 1878 at 81 Walton Street, the Commercial and Industrial Business Edition of 1916 advertised  “Travellers who are attracted to the Queen’s Hotel to declare this to be one of the most home-like family hotels as well as commercial houses in central Ontario without rival between Toronto and Belleville.  It has been conducted by Mr. W.L. Bennett its property manager since 1914.  The three storey structure contains fifty guest rooms and is steam heated throughout.”  Another historical advertisement proclaimed  “The Queen’s Hotel offers first class accommodation’s for Commercial Travellers.  Large, light sample rooms on the ground floor.  The travelling public will find the Queen’s well equipped and comfortable in every particular.  Superior tables and attendance, Best liquor and cigars, Charges moderate.    A.A Adams, Proprietor.”  The Queen’s Hotel name was changed to the Walton Hotel in 1978 after the Bill Matiyek murder, a Golden Hawk biker by rivals of the Satan’s Choice.  The hotel operated as a tavern until 2005 and sat empty for a number of years.  Today the former Walton Hotel sits vacant awaiting commercial development.

Blackham Hotel

Advertisement for the Blackham’s Hotel:  “Adjoining the Port Hope, Lindsay Railroad Depot Port Hope.  The subscriber having now got his new premises fitted up in the best style, for the express accommodation of the Travelling Public, they may find it second to none in point of comfort and convenience, having close to all Railway Stations, the Town Hall, Harbour and Post Office.  Imported Brandies and Wines, Ale and Porter of the Best Brands, And a Table of the BEST the meals served at Ten Minutes Notice.  Good stabling, Ec, Ec.   R.G. Blackham, Port Hope, May 28, 1860.”    This hotel was built in 1864 on Dorset Street West and was sold to W. Martin.  In 1875  it was renamed Martin’s Hotel.  After a major fire in the 1800’s this former hotel was rebuilt as a semi, private dwelling.

An early advertisement for the North American Hotel:  “He’s moved from his old stand to his new extensive and commodious brick building, lately built by himself on the north side of the bridge in the town of Port Hope. known by the name of the North American.  Where he is prepared to accommodate the public in style not inferior in any other taverns in the District, and on terms fully as moderate as any other house.  His bar is supplied with the best liquor that can be procured and his table is supplied with the best meats the country affords… His stable and sheds are good and comfortable and punctually attended with hostlers… The North American is situated in the most delightful portion of the town; there being no object to obstruct the view between it and the beautiful waters of the Great Lake Ontario, standing in its palisades, a person can observe every vessel that passes the Lake or in or out of the harbour.”    John Lynn,  27 December 1844,

A latter Ad for the North American Hotel,  “Hotel To Let.  The proprietor being desirous of retiring from the business he will dispose of his in the Lease of the North American Hotel, situated in the Town of Port Hope, with Furniture and Fixtures, Etc.  It is scarcely necessary to say for location on Business, a more desirable House cannot be found.  For further particulars apply to John Head, Proprietor North American Hotel.  October 23, 1857.”    This hotel no longer exists in Port Hope.

The Turner House (John James Turner) owner came to Port Hope from England in 1875.  Originally J. J. operated a tent, awning, hammock and sail making business at the East Pier and rented out boats and boathouses.  The three storey building is located at 73 Mill Street South at the intersection of Peter Street between the two raised railway tracks (CNR & CPR).  This commercial building conforms to the oblong shape of the adjacent intersection of streets.  By 1881, J. J. went into the tavern bussiness.  An original barn on the property burned down shortly after his land purchase, the insurance proceeds were used to build his tavern.  Later, tiring of the tavern business he moved to Peterborough where he established a large canvas business on George Street.

The ‘newest/old pub, the Beamish Restaurant & Pub on John Street is not mentioned in this post, it was for most of its life a  famous private home and moved to its present site in 1985.  See post and pictures, The Francis Beamish Story.





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