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History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part IV: Toronto: The City Hotels


With the thousand and one hostelries which are scattered over the length and breadth of the city we have nothing to do in this place. Since the change in the liquor license laws, which requires that every applicant for a license must provide accommodation for a certain number of guests, every tavern has become an "hotel." But in dealing with the city hotels it will be unnecessary to go beyond the half-dozen or so which are known all over the country, and whose names are more or less familiar to travellers in the United States. Of such establishments there are four in the city especially deserving of notice, viz.: the Queen's Hotel, the Rossin House, the American Hotel, and the Walker House. None of these have any pretensions to architectural beauty, but what they lack in this direction, they make up by the elegance of their Internal fittings, and by the superior class of accommodation with which they furnish their guests.

The Queen's Hotel stands on the north side of Front Street West, at the head of Lorne Street, and overlooking the waters of the bay and lake. Its situation from a purely business and matter-of-fact point of view, is an admirable one, being in close proximity, on the one hand, to the Union Station and the Parliament Buildings and Government offices, and, on the other, to the wholesale houses which cluster around the lower end of Yonge Street. Its reputation may be said to be continental, its American guests hailing from every part of the Union, from Portland to San Francisco, and from the Sault to New Orleans. It has also on several occasions been patronized by royalty, and has numbered among its guests Lord and Lady Dufferin, the Marquis of Lorne and the Princess Louise, H. R. H. Prince Leopold, the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia, General Sherman and Jefferson Davis. Throughout Canada its name is familiar as a household word. The internal fittings of the hotel are of the most perfect and luxurious kind, and accommodation is provided for over three hundred guests, though on several occasions four hundred have been comfortably quartered beneath its roof. Previous to May the 1st, 1874, the Queen's had been under the management of the late Captain Dick, but on the date mentioned it passed into the hands of Messrs. McGaw & Winnett. These gentlemen are also proprietors of the Queen s Royal Hotel at Niagara—famous for its Saturday night "hops" during the summer; and they possess a controlling interest in the Tecumseh House, the leading hotel in London, Ontario.

The Rossin House has the most central position of all the hotels in the city. It is situated on the south-east corner of King and York Streets. It is a solid-looking building forming two sides of a quadrangle, and surmounted at each corner by a mansard-roof turret. The greater portion of the frontage of the ground-floor is occupied as stores, the hotel having two spacious vestibules leading from the office to King and York Streets respectively. The building contains two hundred sleeping-rooms, and can furnish accommodation for three hundred guests. It is so constructed as to be practically fire-proof, and the safety of the guests in the event of fire is further secured In the fact that every room in the house is provided with a fire-escape. The Rossin House, under the management of the present proprietor, Mr. Mark H. Irish, has become a great rendezvous for Americans, who there find all the comforts and conveniences to which they are accustomed in the great hotels of New York and Chicago.

The American Hotel, on the north-east corner of Yonge and Front Streets, is admirably situated for the convenience of business men, in the very centre of the wholesale trade quarter, opposite the Custom House, and almost within a stone's throw of the wharf at which the Montreal, Niagara and Rochester steamers arrive. This proximity to the centre of lake travel has secured for it a large share of tourist patronage, and it is also a favourite resort for commercial travellers. The proprietor of the American is Mr. James H. Mackie, a well-known hotel man, formerly of New York and New Orleans, who succeeded his father a little over a year ago, the latter gentleman devoting his entire time to the management of his hotel at Port Hope, the St. Lawrence Hall. Mr. Mackie, jr., also manages the large hotel on the Island, erected, and until recently controlled, by Edward Hanlan, the famous oarsman.

The Walker House, on the corner of Front and York Streets, and of which Mr. David Walker, is proprietor, is another favourite hotel with the travelling public, its close proximity to the Union Station making it especially convenient for those who arrive by late, or depart by early trains. Other of the principal hotels are the St. James, opposite the Union Station; the Continental, on the corner of Wellington and Simcoe Streets, opposite the Parliament Buildings, and on this account much frequented by country members; the Revere, the rendezvous for members of the dramatic profession, on the south-west corner of King and York Streets; the Shakespeare, diagonally opposite the Revere; and the Albion Hotel, on the east side of the Market Square.


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