Figure 1: The VHLC Head Office (Right) and the Royal Victoria Hotel (Left)
In 1885, Toronto entrepreneur John Waldie arrived in Victoria Harbour to buy the Kean, Fowlie, and the Power Lumber mills along with hundreds of square miles of timber rights, bush camps, schooners, tug boats, warehouses, and yard engines. All holdings were incorporated under the banner of the Victoria Harbor Lumber Company in 1886.
When Waldie died in 1907, the company was producing 200,000 board-feet per day and was the 2nd largest of its type in Canada. Fred Waldie, one of John Waldie’s sons, managed the company after his father passed.
Figure 2: The Company Offices
The Company office was located behind the Company store, on the present day site of the LCBO Store.
Figures 3 and 4: The Royal Victoria Hotel
The Royal Victoria Hotel was built in 1902 by the Lumber Company to replace the Company boarding house that had burned two months prior. The sprawling three story building was a first class establishment of Victorian style that was a combination of boarding house and hotel.
The hotel was on Albert Street, on the present day site of the Tay Library. Fine prints hung on the wall, and horsehair armchairs graced beautiful axminster rugs. The dining room tables were covered with white linen and a second dining room was available for men of the boarding house.
The hotel was run by the Scott family. As an establishment that was owned by the Lumber Company alcohol was strictly forbidden and was not served until the forties.
By 1920 most of the commercial pine had been harvested and in 1927 the company ceased operations. Several hundred workers were laid off and the town lost its economic base. Following the depression, the hotel fell into disrepair. In 1961 the virtually derelict building succumbed to fire.
From the left: The Royal Victoria Hotel, the Company offices and the Company store (rear). All the buildings were painted in the “canary yellow” provided by the Company.
For more detail on Tay heritage sites visit https://taytownshipheritage.wordpress.com
Boyer, Barbaranne and Boyer, Michael: Victoria Harbour, a Mill–Town Legacy, 1989
Facebook: Huronia’s Past and Present: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HuroniaPastandPresent
Facebook: Victoria Harbour – A Mill Town: https://www.facebook.com/groups/178838795592368/
Tay Township Heritage Blog: https://taytownshipheritage.wordpress.com/
Tay Township Heritage Committee http://www.tay.ca/en/your-municipality/tay-heritage-committee.asp
Tay Township Heritage Register and Inventory