The property that we commonly refer to as the Central Hotel has a particularly long history filled with numerous proprietors and name changes.
In 1830, John Roney purchased the land and built the Farmer’s Inn on the site. Poor health prompted him to transfer the hotel to William McDonnell who left in 1837 to open his own hotel, the Elgin House, across the street. Joseph Moyer operated the inn from 1837 to 1840. Then, from 1840 to 1855, John Roney’s sons, Sam and Francis managed the operation.
There were several name changes. It was known as the Black Bull Inn in 1853, and the Aberdeen House from around 1855 to 1858. It became the Buck’s Head Inn in 1858. True to its name, the Buck’s Head Inn prided itself on its large deer head hanging above the front door. The place acted as a town meeting place, held political meetings, and even hosted banquets. Until about 1874, the inn went through several name changes as well as proprietors. It was called the Commercial Inn or Commercial Hotel, and the Mansion House.
In 1874 it was sold to A.R. Wardell and in 1890 was torn down and a brick building was constructed in its place. It was then referred to as the Central Hotel.
J.T. Hourigan bought the hotel in 1894 and around this period, the Central Hotel was also referred to as Hourigan’s Hotel. Ownership was passed down to his son, J.F. Hourigan, who only kept the Hotel for a couple of years. From 1908 to 1947-48, Edgar Haley was the proprietor. He then sold it to Mrs. Benita Doughty of Toronto. Since then it has had a number of owners and names. By 1968 it was known as the Golden Valley Inn.
At present, the building structure of the Central Hotel is used for commercial shops but one can still see the original ‘Central Hotel’ sign mounted on the front, outer façade.
Stay tuned for more details about the Central Hotel.
Thanks to the students of McMaster University Department of History for their assistance with this project.