The Maple Leaf Forever —- Maple Leaf Tavern

The Maple Leaf Forever  —- Maple Leaf Tavern

I think community should be documented for future generations. This hotel was part of the Ottawa community until it closed

Soul is a name. Every time you repeat the name, it steals a bit of soul, so that by the 1,000th time you say Burger King or Esso, it disappears. Soul resides in the one-of-a- kind, in Eddy’s Quick Lunch, The Vanier Grill, Maple Leaf Tavern. These are names that line Montreal Road in Vanier, names unrepeated in other places, names that outlive buildings, so that the gritty soul of the street resonates like the memory of sin’s embrace. Maple Leaf tavern which lasted 70 years until 1994 proudly served quarts, the once popular meeting place for Ottawa’s elite, the hotel’s bar became a magnet for crime – in the 1980s . The Maple Leaf Tavern, which opened on Montreal Road in 1923, closed in 1994.

Vanier ends a short distance west of St. Laurent Boulevard, where for years the Maple Leaf Tavern was home to a generation of National Research Council scientists, Mounties, tradespeople and those whose employment was more difficult to pin down. It closed in February 1994, to such universal sadness and outcry the Citizen dispatched one of its best writers to write an obituary “The Maple Leaf not forever, but not forgotten,” he concluded. A brand-new Blockbuster Video with plenty of parking replaced it.

Last call for landmark beer hall Phil Gebert shut the Maple Leaf Tavern a week ago, closing the doors on a three-tiered beer hall that could easily seat most of Vanier round its well-worn tables. This was not a happy ending to a hotel and watering hole first opened in 1923. Friday, as he tried to sell anything not nailed down, Gebert was not a happy man. “What’s the story?” the middle-aged businessman asked mockingly.

“There’s no story. The place is a dump. It should have been torn down a long time ago.”

He lights a smoke, drinks coffee, lights another smoke, all the while leading a handful of buyers between stacked cases of glassware and used kitchen equipment. At one table in the clutter 150 salt shakers are neatly lined up, their chrome tops gleaming in the weak light. In a few minutes, he will pull a black 8-ball from his blazer pocket, a remnant found in the basement games room.

“Take a picture of this. I’m always behind it.”

Gebert tried to keep things quiet when he closed the tavern, but you don’t easily remove a landmark. “If God had a bar, It would be called the Leaf,” a sentimental patron memorialized on the wall with magic marker. Others joined him: “It’s been great Tawny” “God Bless the Leafs”, and, “Lest we forget the times, Thanks for the memories Nancy Kerrigan”.

The grouchy Gebert may not want to talk about the tavern’s past but Claude Larose, 59, does. Larose has been working in taverns for 35 years back when beer was 42 cents a quart the last 17 at the Maple Leaf. Friday, the short, dark-eyed man came in to help out with the sale and pick up his last paycheque.

The tavern, at Montreal Road and St. Laurent Boulevard, used to rent 17 rooms in the upper floor. Larose says government workers in the area staked out their own sections of the tavern: RCMP in one area, CMHC in another, plumbers and electricians in yet another.

There have been so many stories connected with the Leaf over the years, Larose is hard pressed to single out a few. He remembers the man who was having chest pains at home and told his son, “Just get me to the Leaf and I’ll be alright.” He went to the hospital instead and died. Gebert and Larose say the Maple Leaf has been victimized by changing times and taste: People don’t drink as much anymore and, if they do, it’s only one quart instead of five.

While a 1988 fire hurt business the tavern shut for nine months they say there’s been a steady slide in business since 1992. When word leaked out last week about the closure, Larose estimates two or three dozen wooden chairs disappeared, whisked away to dens and basements. “It’s like they say. All good things must come to an end,” says Larose. So they do. The Maple Leaf not forever, but not forgotten.

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada05 Mar 1994, Sat  •  Page 19 Kelly Egan

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada10 Dec 1964, Thu  •  Page 57

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada14 Sep 1971, Tue  •  Page 34


Americo “Maigo” Rego, the young manager at the Maple Leaf Restaurant and Tavern on Montreal Road, saw the graffiti on the wall two years ago and has been slowly renovating the tavern since.” Rego has been forced to open the Popular Draft Room downstairs to everyone because of declining sales. “At first the men didn’t like it but it has gradually been accepted. I always answer the phone with ‘hello, Maple Leaf Hotel’, though. It will always be that to me,” Maigo says.

“Our male-only side will never die-out, though. It may not be as busy as it used to be but the women will never feel comfortable there.” Rego has been forced to open the Popular Draft Room downstairs to everyone because of declining sales. “At first the men didn’t like it but it has gradually been accepted.”

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada27 Nov 1981, Fri  •  Page 89


CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada14 Nov 1988, Mon  •  Page 15

By John Kessel and Mike Blanchfield Citizen staff writers

A fire Sunday that gutted the upper floor of the Maple Leaf Tavern and Restaurant was likely the job of an arsonist, an investigator with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office says. Les MacPhee said he and police believe the same suspect set a $20,000 fire at the tavern in mid-September. “We just haven’t been able to find the man to question him,” MacPhee said. “We believe it’s someone who has a grudge against the hotel.”

When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting out upper windows of the tavern on Montreal Road just east of St. Laurent Blvd. They battled the blaze for nearly four hours before bringing it under control. Two firefighters received injuries. They were taken to hospital and later released, said Guilbault. Despite extensive damage to the upper floor of the two-storey building, the pub’s manager vowed it will reopen within two weeks. Phil Gebert said the ground floor and the basement which house the pub received only water damage. The upper floor was unoccupied. “It’ll just need a week to air out,” Gebert said Sunday morning, noting that most of the tavern furniture was not destroyed.

However, Dave Guilbault, an investigator with the Ottawa fire department, said there was “severe damage” to the roof, with minor smoke damage to the rest of the building. The basement, where the restaurant’s popular lunch specials were served, was not damaged, he said. “It doesn’t look too good right now,” said Platoon Chief George Way. “There isn’t much of a roof left.” He estimated damage to the building at $350,000 and water damage to its contents at $100,000. The building was empty when Sunday’s blaze broke out.

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada09 Nov 1946, Sat  •  Page 13

Cheryl LacasseOld Ottawa’s past – forgotten and fond memories


Maple Leaf Hotel, Ottawa 1948


Flickr – Ross Dunn

Old Ottawa’s past – forgotten and fond memories

Malcolm Williamson


I don’t have a ton of history about this Ottawa hotel which like several businesses in the neighborhood mysteriously burned down around the same time.

The Maple Leaf Hotel was a favorite hangout for a lot of people, some even legal drinking age. It was on the corner of St Laurent and Montreal Road.

In high school (grade 13) it was where I would skip math classes with a few friends and head over for the afternoon and then high tail it back to school to get our books and catch our school buses home.

This was quite funny as our high school was several miles away and I would actually have to pass where I lived to get back to school only to then head home.

We would each order 5 small glasses of beer for $0.90 and leave the waiter a $0.10 tip so 4 guys ordering 5 beers and that table got filled up with glasses pretty darn fast. I mean we were on a mission and only had so much time.

I also recall the waiter wouldn’t take the glasses away so we would stack the glasses on top of each other making a 3′ high pyramid of breakables on the table (maybe they were plastic?)

Drinking age was 21 and I was 16 (going on 17) but looked older, yet I doubt I looked 21. We never got asked for our ID.

On one adventurous day, we stole a wooden Maple Leaf sign from inside which was proudly displayed in our grade 13 lounge.

Marilyn Cottrell

Thanks Linda, my ancestor was Michael Spears who in 1830 owned the 100 acres where the Maple Leaf Hotel was. Mary Ann Spears, from Navan, mentioned in the obit for James Alberty was Michael Spears’ granddaughter. I had not seen his James Alberty’s obit before — thanks

Carey Craig

My Mother Father and myself lived for a month at the Maple Leaf Hotel in early 1956 when we first came to Ottawa.My father finally found an apt not far away from the ML in Alvin Heights. We stayed in the corner room which had two windows one facing the Montreal Rd and the other St.Laurent Blvd. I last stayed at the ML in Oct. 1970 room rent was $6.50 per night. It’s one of the places that if you have been there you will never forget.

David Hurst

Used to go there for 20 cent draft after a days work for the moving company on St.Laurent.

Judy O’Neil Telford

An old story. Years ago 4 cooks from the base (Rockliffe) would go for a beer. It was an exceptionally hot day and one of the four saw one guy put 2 pounds of butter on his head and put his hat on. So they decided it was a good day to have a beer. 4 took their hats off, 4th didn’t. Days before air conditioning. Butter started rolling down his face. He was embarrassed as hell.

Rick Cooke


I have this beer bottle opener in my collection from the Maple Leaf.

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada21 Mar 2002, Thu  •  Page 23

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada13 Jul 1966, Wed  •  Page 2

Bank Street hotels called ‘dead’ Ottawa hotels appear to consider Bank Street dead for tourist travel. Not a single one accepted the Tourist and Convention Bureau’s invitation to put direct-line telephones’ into the Bank Street reception centre. At the Prescott Highway centre, five major hotels have taken up all available spaces, forcing the bureau to turn down an application from Bruce MacDonald Motor Hotel. The hotel wants to locate only in the Prescott centre, bureau director Gerald Geldert told the tourist and convention committee Tuesday night. But the Beacon Arms, Lord Elgin, Savoy, Chateau Lauri-er and Butler Motor hotels have filled all the spaces. The committee agreed a row of tourist folder racks there can be taken out to provide more spaces if the direct-line venture works out.

A request from Eastview’s Lafontaine Hotel for permission to install a phone in the Montreal Road ‘centre was turned down because the hotel does not advertise in the city’s tourist publications. Charles St. Germain complained that Eastview keeps aloof from tourist, promotion and benefits from Ottawa advertising. Now in the Montreal Road centre are phones to the Beacon Arms, Lord Elgin, Savoy and Riverside Motor hotels. The Beacon Arms, Savoy and Lord Elgin are in the Britannia centre. Motorcycle guides Not even Donald Sigouin, 55, of 356A Cumberland St., who is promoting tourist guides on motorcycles, wanted to locate at the Bank Street centre. He told the committee his choice is the Prescott centre where he counted 26 tourist groups Sunday at one time. The committee recommended letting him move his Ottawa Tourist Motorcycle Escort Service to the centre on a trial basis.

Aldermen Lionel O’Connor and Charles Parker opposed the move. Foolish move? “This town’s in the midst of a local revolution because of all the motorcycles,” said Aid. O’Connor. “It’s so bad that we have women out on the streets, screaming at them.” He indicated city council would be foolish to appear to promote the proliferation of the two-wheeled noise-anakers. “The whole city is up in arms against motorcycles,” he said. John Powers said Mr. Sigouin’s motorcycle escorts, who will charge $1 to guide tourists to their destination in Ottawa, will have to stick to a rigid contract with the city as well as obey laws governing motorcycles. St. Germain objected to Mr. Sigouin’s intentions of taking 50 cents out of each dollar his cyclists make. But the committee agreed Mr. Sigouin would need the money to pay for signs and the receptionists he hopes eventually to place outside all four centres.

Clippings of the Old Albion Hotel

The Brunswick Hotel — The “dollar-a-day” Huckell Hotel — (Murphy-Gamble Limited)

From Carleton Place to “the Laff” — The Life and Times of Peter Prosser Salter

Childhood Movie Nights at Reliance Motor Court in Eastview — Noreen Tyers

Mini Memories of Retail Stores, Au Bon Marche, Liberty Stores, Orientique, and Flash Cadilac 1976

Norman Levine– Selected Photos– Lower Town- Simpson Book Collection

Battle of the Hatpins — Women of Local History

At Church on Sunday Morning From the Pen of Noreen Tyer

Hitching a Ride Cross Town — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers

The Flying Teeth in Church — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

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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