Many older buildings around North Grenville have disappeared over the years; some by fire, others demolished. But there are some which are still around, but no longer recognisable as the original building. These are hiding in plain sight. We’ll look at some of these over the coming weeks.
The Clothier Hotel, 9 Water Street, Oxford Mills
Here is a building that no-one but older residents of Oxford Mills will recognise. It was constructed c 1835 of timber frame and served as a hotel until 1914. It had a 2nd storey balcony and 1st storey veranda both of which ran the length of the front facade. It was built by Asa Clothier and was owned by numerous individuals, many of whom also used the property for other businesses, such as shoemaking, over the years. The last hotel keeper was Thomas Warren, who left here and moved to Kemptville, where he ran the White House on the corner of Clothier and Prescott Streets for many years. The hotel in Oxford Mills was sold to the Loyal Orange Lodge No. 72 in 1915. The Lodge and Regalia rooms were on the 2nd floor and there was a large hall on the ground floor that saw many community dances, masquerades and dinners. The Hall had its own Band, which played there regularly. From its days as a hotel, there were horse sheds and stables between the Hall and the river. But the old building, with its wood frame construction, was not necessarily the most comfortable place. It took five wood stoves to keep the interior warm.
The Lodge had as many as seventy members at one time. The Lodge ‘went into darkness’ in the 1970s and the village library operated from the first floor. The building was owned by Harold and Bernie Patterson for many years, from which they operated their electrical and plumbing business, before it was bought by Gerry and Debbie VanGurp. They transformed the building into Olde Porch Primitives, and it is completely unrecognisable from the old hotel. It is now preserved for another century through their work.
In the original plan for the Village of Oxford Mills, a road allowance ran to the north of this property, from Water Street to the river bank. By Street, as it was to be called, remains an unopened road allowance today, and is marked by the Canada Post post boxes standing on that side of the road.
The Clothier Hotel was a major social hub for the village for decades, and it remains, although disguised, and serving new purposes today.