The Albion Hotel

In 1848, Alfred Bennett came to the Town of Dundas from England. Soon after his arrival, Bennett opened his “Crystal Palace Saloon” in the basement of Town Hall.

In 1862, fire destroyed St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church, which stood at the rear of the corner lot at King Street and Market Square. Bennett saw his opportunity and by 1865 he had purchased this prime business site.

Bennett made his home in a small brick cottage that had been spared by the tragic 1862 fire and began a saloon in a one storey structure where 84-88 King Street West is now.

By 1866, Bennett had expanded his saloon business to include two of the finest Phelan billiard tables.

In 1874, Bennett bought the material from a frame building that once stood where the Masonic Hall is now and built a two storey rough cast building that occupied the corner lot at King Street and Market Square. In building his new saloon, Bennett may have used bricks or parts of the brick cottage that he had been living in. This building later became known as the Albion Hotel.

Bennett’s new saloon was a modest establishment, not nearly as grand as its neighbour, the Elgin House, but nevertheless, Bennett claimed to offer his patrons the finest in wines, liquors, cold lager, cigars, and billiards.

Bennett was his own saloon and hotel keeper except during the year 1890, his final year of ownership. At this time Thomas A. Hanes was the proprietor.

During its first year of operation, Bennett leased the ground floor corner store in his two storey hotel to grocers William and Robert Watt. They remained there the following year as well, when Bennett rented the adjacent ground floor shop to merchant Alex Munro, for about one year. Therefore, the the first few years, Bennett restricted his hotel operations to the rear and upper storeys of his new building.

At various times during the next twelve years, Bennett leased the corner store of his saloon to private individuals. By 1889 it appears that Bennett’s two storey building was entirely taken up by the hotel business.

David Daniels, of Hamilton, became the owner of Bennett’s establishment in 1891, and remained so until 1902. Bennett continued to operate a billiard hall in a one storey frame structure beside the hotel.

From 1891 to 1902, the Albion Hotel was operated by several proprietors which included Alexander Crooks (1891-1892), William G. Mallett (1893-1895), George Case (1896-1899), Lorne Patton (1900), Charles Miller (1900-1901), R.J. Burke (1901-1902), and Charles McCardle (1902).

In 1902, the Albion Hotel was sold to John Devan. For a short time between 1906 and 1907, Cheu Chong rented the hotel, using it as a boarding house and restaurant.

Annie Cowper, a widow, purchased the Albion Hotel in 1907, on behalf of the Cowper Brothers, who set up a coal, ice and express business there. This put a final end to the building’s history as a hotel and saloon.

Later, in 1921, the former Albion Hotel came under the ownership of Clarence W. Cowper, who represented the firm of William Cowper and Company. Bennett’s building remained in the Cowper family for seventy years. Their coal and express business developed into one of the major hardware businesses in 20th century Dundas.

After the Cowper family set up business on the ground floor, the second floor was divided into two apartments.

The Canada Trust Company purchased the building in 1977.

From the report of Barbara Thom, Summer Research Assistant, Dundas LACAC, 1978.

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