From Ken Clavette’s Album of Bygone Sandy Hill
There was the Chateau and then there was the Grand Hotel. Situated in Sandy Hill, it was one of Ottawa’s oldest hotels when it was demolished in the 1980s to make way for the Westin Hotel and the Rideau Centre. It was on the corner of Sussex and Besserer (that block was renamed Colonel By after the train tracks made way for the drive). It was just around the corner from Union Station so was a popular traveller’s hotel. As the years went by, it changed into a well-known watering hole. The lunch time crowd would include NCC staff, with their office at 48 Rideau, and the staff from Ogilvy’s department store and other stores on Rideau Street. Canada Post and railway employees filled the chairs in the Men’s Only Tavern until the 1970s. The Red Den-Ladies and Escorts Lounge was for ladies; men were allowed only when accompanying a woman. The separate Men Only and Ladies and Escorts beverage rooms in bars were mandated by LCBO regulation in 1937 and continued into, at least, the 70s.
Many a St Pat’s College student, and yes, some from the high school, could be found at the tavern. Now, I only heard their stories; I never did get in before it met its demise. In the 50s and 60s, before liberation, it had a reputation as an unofficial hangout for gay men.