THYME..... SETTLES INTO THE HISTORIC BEAUTIFUL OTTAWA HOUSE!
It is not often in the relatively young area of Thunder Bay that a hundred-year old building should be referred to as “new,” but such is the case of the former Ottawa Hotel, which stands at the corner of Cumberland and Lincoln Streets. The original Ottawa house was constructed in the same location and built entirely of wood in 1884. This proved to be the site’s downfall, as a fire razed the building to the ground, along with the Hotel Brunswick, in 1886. Only the Ottawa House was rebuilt (in 1888), and it seems the contractor was unwilling to risk another disaster, as the ‘new’ Ottawa House was made of brick. The owners of the property at this time were the Guerard brothers. One of the brothers operated the hotel for many years, until his death in 1901. The building was then purchased by his sister, Georgina and her husband Harry Servais, who had addition added to the southern end in 1901. The hotel was advertised as having “50 rooms, baths, a steam furnace, electric light, a large, well arranged bar and immense
Heritage Registry; Designated Property No. 11 patronage.” Apparently the manager of the hotel, a Mr. McLean, was “without fault;” he was always “courteous and a gentleman to all.” The hotel was updated periodically, notably so in 1910 when the proprietress invested over $80,000 into the building. The Ottawa House underwent several name changes over the next few years. In 1915 it was called the Devon Block by its’ new owners, the Drury’s of Kenora. The name was changed again in 1949 by Mr. George Frederick Taylor who dubbed the building Melbourne Block after his hometown of Melbourne, England. The building has since the mid-century variously housed numerous commercial tenants, including McFarlane’s and Taylor’s Men’s Wear, the Devon Café and the Army and Navy Store. Peter Stevens acquired the property in the early 1980’s and expressed interest in the building’s history. He applied for government grants to financially aid him restore the site to its early 20th century appearance and was successful in having the building formally designated as a Heritage Site in 1987.