of landmark hinges on liquor licence
Pointe Claire's Maples Inn has been part of the West
Island's history since the 19th century.
Special to the Gazette
October 20, 1983
|3D reconstruction © rhodesinternational
Island residents who remember the area as it was 50 years
ago are awaiting the fate of The Maples Inn with great
interest and not a little trepidation.
owner Brian Newman says - and few would disagree - that
if its liquor permit is not renewed, there is little
chance of the Maples surviving. In fact, its likeliest
fate in the event is demolition, possibly to make way
for another highrise building.
Maples is a landmark, one of the oldest buildings on
the Lakeshore - as locals have always referred to that
part of the West Island that faces Lake St. Louis.
it was built in the late 19th century, The Maples Inn
was a popular destination in Montreal's countryside,
located on the quiet shores of the lake where the Bord
du Lac (Lakeshore Drive) meandered through a haven of
trees, alive with colour at this time of the year.
for many years, the hotel was almost inaccessible to
Montrealers during the winter months.
Maples became popular at a time of lazy summer Sundays,
when summer boarding houses were popular along the Lakeshore.
In Pointe Claire, not far from the Maples, were the
summer houses of the many Montreal residents.
would leave the city in May and return in September
after boarding up windows and doors until the next spring.
The Maples, most of these houses still stand, and became
permanent residences only a few decades ago after the
long years of weekend retreating and Sunday drives.
of those weekends retreats were at The Maples, Originally
only a three-storey frame summer boarding house built
in the late 19th century by a Mr. Alland, The Maples
restricted entry to "distinguished gentlemen"
gentlemen's club had a lounge/bar downstairs and card
rooms upstairs where "500", the popular game
of the era, was played.
1910 and 1920, the population of Montreal doubled and
so did the popularity of The Maples, as ballroom dancing
became the club's main attraction and women were finally
Verity, a professional hotel operator, bought The Maples
and made it a hotel in 1914. By the summer of 1925,
he was advertising it as "The Most Popular
Summer Resort on Lake St. Louis".
F. Scott Fitzgerald's fashionable East Egg, and one
can picture the type of crowd which gathered at The
Maples Hotel on those sultry summer afternoons in the
preparation for the colours of autumn, Verity announced
the new fall rates and declared The Maples the Lakeshore's
"Premier Hotel - comfort and cleanliness guaranteed,
English home cooking, good food, and plenty of it. Steam
heat, hot and cold running water in all rooms".
these reasons, the ads crowed, there was no longer a
need to move back to the city.
more than a couple of months later, advertisements in
The Lakeshore Press-Record (later the Lakeshore News
and now the New & Chronicle) revealed a plan for
a new winter resort to be located at the Lakeside Hotel,
as the Maples was also called locally.
Winter Sports & Social Club opened in early January,
1926, and membership entitled one to "dancing,
cards (with prizes), toboggan slide, ski course, skating
rink and badminton courts." The toboggan slide
eventually had four chutes, with natural dropouts on
to Lake St. Louis.
rate for family membership cost only $15 for two adults
and all children under 16 years of age. For children
over 16, the price was $8 per season.
Main Hall - c. 1946 and 1976
celebrate the opening of the Winter Sports & Social
Club, the management of The Maples Hotel, as it was
now called, gave a "Grand Free Dance,"
in its "Rustic Log Dance Pavilion"
featuring a well-known band of the time, the Bluebird
Dance Orchestra. The dance pavilion had birchbark walls
and lantern light and was build in early December of
following a successful open, an orchestra played every
Saturday night. Admission was "Gents, 75 cents,
Ladies 50 cents, or $1 per couple." The hall
was also used for weddings and other receptions.
came the movie shows. The Maples announced moving pictures
in late January, 1926, when competition with other area
clubs, The Condover Club, The Valois Country Club, The
Strathmore Country Club and the Club Nautique Royal
Maples only charged 35 cents for adults and 20 cents
(click picture for aerial view)
driving along the Lakeshore Rd., for many summers to
follow, motorists would see people playing tennis on
The Maples' courts as well as miniature golf on its
course, men and women in exotic bathing wear swam in
the lake from the sandy beach across the road.
management of The Maples had sand barged across the
river from Chateauguay for several summers but eventually
golf originated in Tennessee but in the fall of 1930
management of The Maples brought the game to Canada
and the hotel had the first course in the country.
The Great Depression, The Maples began to experience
its dimmest days. However in 1948 Willie Comstant, who
had bought the hotel and was its proprietor until just
a few years ago, helped The Maples get back on its feet.
Patrons were still able to wine, dine and dance, often
to Charlie Legault's Big Band from Lachine.
The Maples Inn c. 1980
days are long ago over with the era of rock and roll,
and The Maples Inn now caters to a younger crowd. But
new owner Brian Newman is trying to restore the old
along the Lakeshore Rd. on any beautiful summer day
brings back to older Lakeshore residents memories of
the "good old days" at The Maples Hotel. Today,
few except windsurfers care for a dunk in polluted Lake
St. Louis, although its shores, including the sandy
beach in front of The Maples, are still popular picnic
pub at the right side of The Maples building has changed
little but the opposite side is now equipped with a
new bar and carpeted floors.
the new owner, admittance to this hall is restricted
to patrons over the age of 21, with the occasional exceptions.
Newman hopes in the future it will be used, for retirement
parties, dinner theatre and wedding receptions.
fact, the Maples Inn burnt down under suspicious circumstances
on February 8, 1985. The neighbours had champaign ready.
Condos now stand on the spot...if
the residents listen carefully late at night, they can
still faintly hear "Smoke on the Water"...