The Royal Connaught Hotel
The Royal Connaught is now home to a few pigeons
Today it’s hard to imagine The Royal Connaught in its former glory. Sadly, the Connaught now stands vacant and somewhat neglected. The front is boarded up, the canopy over what used to be the front entrance is dilapidated beyond repair and the building itself has more than a few broken windows. It’s been like this for the past decade.
Sir John A. McDonald oversees The Connaught There was a time when the Connaught would have been the place to be seen. It was right at the heart of then thriving city – this place called Hamilton. Bright lights would have lit the front entrance, ushers would have welcomed guests at they arrived in their limousines, and pages would have taken account of guests’ luggage. The hotel would have been a hive of activity. The grand balls rooms would have been none stop entertainment during the period known as the Roaring Twenties. Perhaps I dream too much, but what is real, is this grand old building is homeless – ignored and begging for a second chance. Perhaps someone is listening. In recent months there has been talk and rumours about reviving this wonderful piece of history – not into a hotel, but into condominiums. This would be brilliant. Condominiums would attract the people with a sense of permanency. After all, if they are investing in a condominium, they will have a vested interest in the area in which they live. Demographically, they would most likely be the next upcoming generation – career oriented, social climbers – ones with vision. Whether they commute to Toronto or base themselves in Hamilton, they will expect a certain lifestyle. This lifestyle would encourage local commerce. Commerce encourages growth. Growth promotes prosperity. Prosperity generates wealth. Wealth attracts investors. Jobs would be created and before long, the poverty is replaced by optimism and a sense of well-being, and like a Phoenix, a city slowly but surely rises from the ashes. Yes – perhaps I do dream too much, but all good things start with a dream.
The Royal Connaught was once a tall majestic building When seen everyday, it’s easy to become oblivious to things, even if they are tall majestic buildings such as The Royal Connaught Hotel. Some may consider it an eye-sore and mentally tune it out as though it wasn’t there, which would be a shame because the closer I looked at this neglected structure, the more I saw the hidden beauty and the potential. It just needs the right care and attention – new owners who know the value of something rather than just its cost. It needs architects and designers with vision and a grasp of the history. It needs talented marketing people with a flair for a one-of-a-kind project, and promoters that share the passion and envisage the potential. It needs the type of occupants that will love and embrace the area we call Lower Hamilton.
A walk around the back reveals a different story It is obvious from the second and third floor doorways that part of this building was demolished at some time leaving the casual observer to wonder where these doors once lead to? Was there a southern wing to the hotel? Perhaps someone knows. If not, it is surely documented somewhere, but today it’s just an alley and a parking lot.
Once a Howard Johnson Hotel Over the past there have been several attempts to revive The Royal Connaught. There are evens signs still in place to remind us that at one time it been a Howard Johnson Hotel. With the prospects of becoming a condominium, it is unlikely The Royal Connaught will ever be a hotel again. Regardless, there is lots of work to bring the Royal Connaught back to its former glory. Let’s hope it is done right this time.