Royal Hotel

In May of 1874, William Margach contracted with A. McBurney to build a three-storey, 40-room, frame hotel, which was to include a store on the ground floor. Located on Lindsay Street, “south of the bridge,” it was a “very short distance” from the proposed site of the Victoria County Railway station. Constructed over the summer of that year it was open for business by late October under the name of the Royal Hotel. The new hotel was rented and operated by William Porter with the assistance of an R.G. Bell, both of whom were from Lindsay [CP 15 May 1874; 4: 10 July; 2: 23 Oct; 2: 13 Nov 1874; 3]. By December the hotel was in full running order and the Royal was opened with a formal banquet. Mr. Porter “has spared neither means nor taste… all the furniture is new and elegant, all the rooms in the house are full and comfortably furnished…” [CP 18 Dec 1874: 3]. Porter was granted a tavern license by the Fenelon Council on February 1st 1875. Disaster struck, however, on March 20th, 1876 when the hotel was burned to the ground [CP 24 March 1876: 3]. The fire originated in the chimney and quickly spread along the upper floor; only the stables and sheds were saved.

Margach immediately began plans to construct a new brick hotel about the same dimensions as the old hotel, two stories high, but without the store [CP 18 Aug 1876: 3]. The brick started to arrive by steamer in September and “considerable work” was done in excavating the foundation [CP 29 Sept 1876; 3]. The following spring (April 1877) the Post reported on the building operations, which may not have been as far advanced as the earlier articles implied. “Active operations have begun towards the rebuilding of the hotel lately destroyed by fire. The foundation and cellar is [sic] being excavated the whole size of the front lot, and a good brick building is to be put up containing a store and a hotel… This with the new Methodist Church and Mr. Margach’s hotel is a much better opening of the summer’s operations than we have had for some time past”[CP 6 April 1877; 3].

Then all mention of the project stops. There is no indication that the hotel was ever completed, or ever reopened. Some have proposed that this site became the Victoria Hotel, but that hotel was already in operation by the end of 1874. The lot appears to have remained unused until it came into the possession of Daniel Scully. The Gazette reported that he sold to Samuel Maybee “the corner lot… on which Porter’s Hotel formerly stood…” [FFG 25 July 1885: 2]. If this is correct then the hotel stood on the SW corner of, what is now, Lindsay and Helen Streets.

664 Listed as William Margack, age 36, a Scottish born “land agent” from Lindsay in the 1871 Census.

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