shall we go? Away from the madding crowd!
serve his business interests, Hiram Walker built a railway, The
Lake Erie, Essex, and Detroit River Railway. For his recreation,
he built a grand resort on the main line of the railway and on the
shores of Lake Erie The Mettawas Hotel, which opened in 1889.
The elegant hotel was torn down in 1902, but memories live on, particularly
for Kingsville residents, and through The Walkerville Mercury,
published by Hiram Walker himself.
Mercury, June 28, 1890
is a wise old proverb that says, all work and no play makes
Jack a dull boy. Perhaps at this time of the year, when the
days are longest, and the sun is at its zenith of power, this adage
is brought more forcibly to the mind of the wearied statesman or
the toiling banker, merchant, and over-brain-worked professional
man that at any other season of the year.
the custom is pretty general in most parts, another writer has just
said, In no other part of the world is the custom of seeking
an annual change of air and scene so general or the provision for
the habit so universal as on this continent.
the coasts, in the mountains bordering our lakes, great and small,
in fact wherever invigorating breezes prevail or climatic conditions
are favorable to the constitutions or ailments of our people, are
to be found hotels, which in numbers, dimensions and luxuriousness
excel those of any other country.
the fact that there are so many places to choose from, the greatest
difficulty arises in finding the right place to suit the habits
and temperament of each member of the family or social circle, as
the case may be. This place is too gay, that too grave; this too
quiet, that too boisterous; and in trying to please all in the party
or family in arranging the summer holiday, the cry is given out,
Where shall we go?
the place that suits the tastes and habits of each individual
member of the party best will be Kingsville, on the Essex shore
of Lake Erie, and that the Summer Resort Hotel, where the guest
will find all the comforts and luxuries of a refined home, coupled
with those out-door amusements which refined tastes and good manners
demand, is The Mettawas, situated as it is, on the north shore of
Lake Erie, the very waters of which lave the beach and feet of the
hotels lawns. To arrive at this delightful spot let all intending
visitors by rail meet at Walkerville station, the chief station
and starting point on the Lake Erie and Detroit River Railway Companys
system, situated in the rising Town of Walkerville, and easy of
access by ferry boat or street car from Windsor and Detroit, a good
converging point from all parts of this continent.
at Walkerville, board the 5:28 p.m. saloon car of the Mettawas special,
and for some 30 miles the visitor will pass through, alternately
such sylvan and pastoral scenery that has justly earned this Essex
peninsula the name of The Garden of Canada.
one of the earliest settled parts of the Dominion, until opened
up by the L.E. and D.R. Railway, it has hitherto remained but little
known to the outside world, except to citizens of Detroit and some
American sportsmen who have been allured to its solitudes in search
of game, and to the adjacent Island of Pelee after the finny tribe,
for which the waters surrounding it are famous.
quickly through the pretty hamlets and villages of Pelton, Oldcastle,
Paquette, Macgregor, New Canaan, Marshfield, Harrow, and Arner,
and only 50 minutes after leaving the Walkerville station the visitor
will alight at Kingsville station, and within five minutes
drive from the Mettawas, whose well-appointed omnibus and luggage
car are always in waiting for guests and their baggage.
is one of the most delightful haunts of health and pleasure seekers,
and enjoys the distinction of being the most southerly incorporated
town in British America a fact which has led to its receiving
the sobriquet of The Sentinel Town.
derives its name from Colonel King, who early in the present century
erected the first house within its limits. For some years the natural
beauty of the locality and its reputation for healthfulness have
attracted to it a steadily increasing number of summer visitors,
and it was to meet this demand for accommodation that The Mettawas
was built. The streets of the town are well shaded by maple trees,
thus forming cool promenades.
the saloon cars at Kingsville station the visitor enters the omnibus
and is driven along the well-made entrance road of the hotel and
grounds, which is lined on both sides with young trees, and in a
few minutes finds himself under the carriage-way portico at the
main entrance hall of The Mettawas, a magnificent pile of buildings,
constructed after what is known as the American style of architecture.
Millennium Milestones 1900-2000
expensive structure was built of piled fieldstone, had shingled
gables, was three stories high and contained 120 bedrooms. The exterior
gave an impressive appearance with seven balconies on the third
floor, four on the second, and a white columned veranda stretching
across the south side of the building, running the full width to
the north side.
casino was part of the original Mettawas hotel, which opened
in 1890. It was a separate building west of the main hotel and
contained a bowling alley, dancing hall, billiard room, card
room, lounging room, etc., but apparently no gambling area.
Although the main hotel was torn down in 1903-1904, the Casino
building remained until well after World War II.
Dime a Dance Romance
The Bandshell Dancing under the stars was a quite popular event
in the 1930s and 40s and certainly the outdoor dance floor
at the lake in Kingsville was one of the most popular spots.
Many area residents will remember the fun nights that were enjoyed
at the outdoor dances in Kingsville at this bandshell, which
stood overlooking the lake.
Mettawas, designed by Mason & Rice Architects of Detroit, was
reported to have cost $250,000. Well-to-do Detroiters would arrive
at the fieldstone Kingsville railroad station. They then rode the
three short blocks to The Mettawas in the hotels carriage.
supply the resort with the water, Hiram Walker had a complete water
pumping system built at the bottom of the hill below the hotel.
The pumphouse equipment also supplied the entire town with water
and was eventually purchased by the town and from this nucleus was
developed the modern plant that supplies pure water to the town
of his sons, Franklin Walker, maintained a summer home in Kingsville
for many years after Hiram Walker died in 1899 (it was called Birchlea
Villa and was located on Park Street, near where Southgate Residence
1901, W.P. Beyer purchased The Mettawas. In 1902 bitterness developed
between Beyer and the town authorities over property assessments.
Unable to have the assessment reduced, Beyer made a final decision
and the elegant Mettawas was torn down. Gone was the splendor such
as Kingsville would never see again it was the end of an
era. Only the casino and the servants annex were left standing.
the Windsor, Essex and Lakeshore Electrical Railway was opened in
the early 1900s, the financial interests controlling the railway
bought the Mettawas property.
owners built a little neat hotel called The Mettawas Inn on part
of the foundation of the grand structure. The new summer hotel opened
in 1914. This hotel was operated by the owners and several subsequent
owners for many years with varying and rather different results
and was eventually renamed The Lakeshore Terrace Hotel.
World War II, the notable casino was torn down. Leaving a faint
memory of the original Hiram Walker familys presence in the
town were the annex of the present building which now stands uninhabited;
the remains of a water pumping station which has since been demolished,
and a unique fieldstone railway depot which once welcomed the well-to-do
to Kingsville. It is currently undergoing plans for full restoration.
Kingsville Train Station
Walker commissioned the eminent architect Albert Kahn to design
and build the Kingsville train Station to be ready when construction
of the railway line reached Kingsville from Windsor in the spring
of 1889. The interior layout included gentlemens and ladies
waiting room, ticket office, freight and baggage area, covered porch,
porte-cochere, and a second floor bed chamber. Built of stone, complete
with a slate roof, the station was equipped with gas heating and
lighting brought in from natural gas fields nearby. Fares round
trip to Windsor were 80¢ for adults 40¢ for children.
Plans for restoration are in process.