Episode 14: The Pavilion Hotel

November 11th, 2010Posted by admin

The story of the Pavilion starts with William Forsyth. In 1822 the entrepreneur tore down the older Niagara Hotel and in its place built a structure that became renowned for not only its superior view of the Horseshoe Falls but for being one of the most prestigious accommodations in North America. At three stories the white clapboard building was one of the largest hotels not he continent. Its balconies provided a view of the river which was unparalleled.

Forsyth serviced the Pavilion with his stage coach company which serviced Newark (now Niagara-On-The-Lake), Queenston and Fort Erie. The other coach operators in the area he bribed to ensure that their charges paid the Pavilion a visit.

Started in 1832 the Pavilion was rented for five years to the City Of The Falls Company, an organization of would-be founding fathers of Niagara Falls who intended to build a residential community in the area. They paid 2000 dollars a year. While their vision eventually met with financial ruin, the names of the Company’s officials still adorn the streets of Niagara. The surnames of James Buchanan, John Henry Dunn, Thomas Dixon, John Murray, James Robinson and Thomas Clark should ring familiar to locals.

The Pavilion also served as a military barracks during the Upper Canada Rebellion. At the end of this conflict William Lyon Mackenzie and his band of rebels took to Navy Island in the upper Niagara River, declaring it the new Republic Of Canada. The Republic was short lived, as was the Pavilion’s military service.

Unrelated to the rebellion the hotel burned to the ground in 1939, a year after its conclusion. While the structure was rebuilt in 1843 it never regained its prestigious reputation. Under different ownership the smaller, second generation Pavilion burned to the ground itself in 1865. It was not rebuilt a third time.

The current Oakes Hotel Overlooking The Falls sits where the Pavilion once did.

The cairn commemorating the Pavilion and the City Of The Falls Company sits on Portage Road across the old railroad tracks from Our Lady Of Peace church and Loretto Academy. It originally stood at the corner of Portage and Buchanan (Fallsview) but was moved in 2000 at the behest of one of the Niagara hotel owner families to make way for further development in the area.

You can find a painting of the Pavilion and a more detailed history at the fantastic Thunder Alley website.


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