They’re tearing down The Royal Hotel.
That wouldn’t mean much to the good people of Princeton, as The Royal Hotel is located approximately 5,000 km east, in Paris, Ontario.
Still, they are tearing it down this week. If you will suffer a few nostalgic ramblings, there’s a point coming worthy of reflection.
As has been noted in this space before, my hometown of Paris has many commonalities with Princeton.
Both communities were founded in the 19th century at the confluence of two rivers.
We live here at a fork called Vermilion. Paris is known as the Forks of the Grand.
Like the Similkameen, the Grand is respected worldwide for its sport fishing and recreational opportunities.
Paris had a mill for many years, although it produced textiles instead of lumber.
The mill no longer operates, but you might recognize its name. Check out the Penman’s label the next time you visit Walmart.
Paris too has a walking and biking trail along an old rail bed, built following the deconstruction of the Canadian Pacific.
Both Paris and Princeton are small towns and, at times, have had kick-tail little newspapers.
And Paris has The Royal Hotel. Well, it did up until this week.
Iconic is the only appropriate way to describe The Royal, in the same way Princeton old-timers refer to the Brown Bridge.
Generations of Parisians remember it as the place everybody went to drink under age.
Well, most people.
For two unfortunately-timed years my brother was The Royal’s full-time bartender.
It would be nice to think he refused me entry (and threatened to tell Dad) because he was concerned for his baby sister and wanted to protect her from delinquency. But really, he was just being a jerk.
The Royal was the place the town ended up on a Friday night. The bands were always bad and the dance floor was always packed.
This was no pub.
Dining options were limited to pickled eggs, pepperoni sticks and Lays potato chips.
They didn’t wash the glasses, only ran them under hot water.
My favorite memory of The Royal was the Thursday afternoon a very large member of a motorcycle gang- who did not think the newspaper was as kick-tail as some of us did – poured a full pitcher of draft beer over my head.
The Royal Hotel was a downtown landmark, overlooking the river and sandwiched between the cenotaph and Canadian Tire.
At one time it was three stories of solid yellow brick, but a fire in the 1970’s destroyed the third floor and killed two people. The proprietor rented rooms on the upper levels.
For decades after, the second floor of the Royal still had rooms – let by the night, the week or the month.
And it’s being torn down this week, in order to make way for a four story luxury condominium building.
Units start at $989,000.
A decaying piece of history and sentiment is being demolished, in order to build something new and exciting.
Just imagine that.
A few years ago a person could flop on a mattress there for maybe 10 or 15 dollars a day. The windows had a view that is going to sell for a million bucks a pop in 2019.
And that is the promised point of reflection, for Princeton.
No word as yet about a name for the project.
But I sure hope they call it The Royal.