“Once it’s gone you can’t Replace it”- Co-Op Building 1985– Judith Hughes

“Once it’s gone you can’t Replace it”- Co-Op Building 1985– Judith Hughes

Someone has made an offer to purchase the former Co-op building in Almonte before it is due to be demolished this week. “I am very busy with the Levine .building in Carleton Place,” Judith Hughes said last week, “ or personally, I wouldn’t have taken an interest. But when it comes to the last line,” she stated, she had to stop the building from being destroyed. (read-The Day The Moose in Carleton Place Burned Down)

“ Once it’s gone you can’t ‘replace it,” she said. “I like to put things back exactly as they were. That’s my business,” Mrs Hughes proposes to restore the outside of the structure to its original configuration, with a full-length front porch and balcony on the second floor. All of the bricked-in windows would be re-opened, and paint across the front of the building would be removed with a chemical wash.

The lookout tower would be rebuilt and opened to the public. The interior would see a new building constructed inside the existing shell. Her own engineers would determine the structural strengths and weaknesses, but sellers BAMP investments of Ottawa have stated that the building is “ structurally sound.”

Her plans call for the main floor to be a dining lounge. The upper two floors, with their impressive view, is being designed for a number of one bedroom apartments, “ suitable for couples or seniors,” she stated. “ I think there’s a need for a good dining lounge in Almonte.” The plans as outlined, “ would not conflict with planned zoning changes” slated for March 25 at the council chambers, which would change the back part of the property to “ residential,” for townhouse construction by Brylin Construction.

Clerk Des Houston said the lot line in the proposal is at the rear of the former Co-op building, and does not preclude the demolition of the building. Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee, (LA C A C ) members are ecstatic with the last minute development in status for the edifice, a life-long landmark in Almonte, built around 1860 as Riley’s Hotel. On July 1, 1865 it was advertised in the North Lanark Advance as “ The British Hotel, Queen Street, Almonte, Patrick Riley, Proprietor, The best boarding and lodging at reasonable rates. The best liquors always on hand. Good stabling attached to the house.” Jean Macpherson, chairperson of the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Board said, “ LACAC supports any move to restore the building to its original condition.

Local historian John Dunn grew up across the road from The China Mission Society, which occupied the establishment briefly, as a site to train the first all-Canadian contingent of missionaries for the Orient. He felt it would be a difficult job, but was “ all for” seeing the original facade restored. Joan Rivington, a prominent businesswoman in Almonte said, “ I would do anything to see it saved.

There is a long battle ahead for Mrs Hughes, because her offer is contingent on many factors. Realtor Garth Teskey, acting for the present owners to sell the building, was not optimistic, but wished Mrs. Hughes luck in her efforts. “The building is not sold yet,” he stated Monday, “There are lots of hurdles and many conditions to be met. The demolition order has to be squashed and town council would have to change their direction.”

In the past, the council turned down a request from LACAC to have the building designated as a heritage site on the grounds that it would be more difficult to dispose of. Deputy reeve Herb Pragnell was active, in the movement at that time and is still interested in saving it from the demolishers, who are scheduled to start disassembling the building within days. Mr Teskey continued, “it would have to be inspected to see if it was structurally sound.”

Despite all the obstacles and last minute nature of the reprieve Mrs Hughes-was resolved, “I ’m a pretty determined person once I set my mind to something,”


This was actually Reilly’s Hotel, also known as the Windsor House at one point I believe. It was built by Pat Reilly, who had previously operated the British Hotel. The Almonte House hotel was in the building currently occupied by Subway on Mill Street, and was originally Daniel Shipman’s home. The Almonte Hotel (also Hotel Almonte at one time) was at the corner of High and Bridge Streets. The building survives though no longer a hotel of course.– Brent Eades

In 1985 they began to tear down a 120 year old building in Almonte. To most of us it was known as the Co-Op on Queen Street.  Once upon a time in history it used to be a glamourous hotel in the height of the 1860’s called Reilly’s hotel. Photo- almonte.com
As the years progressed it became a deteriorating eyesore. Carleton Place resident Judith Hughes approached the Almonte council asking for the deadline of to be postponed until April 1 of that year allowing her time to buy the building for renovation. She wanted to construct an apartment building with an added dining lounge. The owner of the building declined Hughes purchase and decided to proceed with the demolition. Photo- almonte.com
The proposed conclusion was to build a smaller building on the property to use as a convenience store or for professional offices. The above photo shows exactly what stands in that very spot today. So does one value the building as a rundown place, or praise it for architectural and historic value?  LACAC recommended the building be designated as a heritage property, but the Almonte town council said it was beyond repair.

Nora Headley

It was also, at one time the “China Missions”, that upon moving from Almonte became known as “Scarborough Foreign Missions.”

Don Raycroft

Linda Eastman they didn’t have rules or guidance back then regarding heritage buildings and their preservation. We lost the train station building for that same reason. Definitely a shame but something that happens very seldom any more.

Kurt Hahn

Linda Eastman And even some buildings are too expensive for owners to maintain at some point, they weren’t necessarily built to last forever. The land itself becomes too valuable to keep an old relic alive, and don’t forget the difference in taxes on unoccupied lots. Sometimes, old means time’s up. Unless the government steps in, then we all pay for it, whether we want to or not.

Stuart McIntosh

I worked in the coop building cleaning and treating seed grain for local farmers at this time of year. Gerald Valentyne hired me to work the night shift and Russell Turner worked the day shift. We used to take a load of grist into there on occasions.

Margaret Porter Greene

Lived across from the Co-Op on Union St. they day the Co-Op came down we stood and watched all day. My kids were amazed.

Don Andrews
April 21, 2021  · 

Spittoon from the old hotel that was the coop

Joe Ryan

I worked there during summer holidays in 1965 and 1966. Heavy hard work!!!! Bill Andrews was there….Gerry Valentine ….Sandy Wright…..and one other guy. It had an elevator that you used a rope to raise and lower it from inside after you put some feed bags into it. Fire drills were scary. You had a harness to get into and a bar slid out and you had to lower yourself to the ground with a rope contraption. Lifting 100lb bags all day and no air back then!!!! Lots of fun. Big money @ 2.00/ hr.

Mary Hurdis

Stuart Hurdis and his sister helped serve food to people when his Grandmother owned the hotel… No alcohol was served.

Jeff Mills

At the time it was taken down the story was that major beams had been cut by the coop to install grain chutes and that it was unsafe. Seemed to be fine the whole time the co-op owned it. I lived across the street on Queen when it came down. I have a brick wall in my house from the brick. Wood shed from floor boards and a few keystones including the one from the front door.

A majestic building in its day.

Cool Burgess — Minstrel Shows at Reilly’s Hotel

The Hugh Williams House– Judith Hughes

Dim All The Lights — The Troubled Times of the Abner Nichols Home on Bridge Street

The Day The Moose in Carleton Place Burned Down

What is Heritage? — The Old Hotel in Almonte

Heritage Homes Disputes- Abner Nichols House

More History on the Murphy Morphy McEwen House — Karen Prytula

Larry Clark — Upper Bridge Street in Carleton Place

Documenting Franktown Road Before it Changes

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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