From the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre:
The Airport Hotel. So much has been said about this beloved Haunt that locals adore, it’s a place a lot of folks have been missing during this global pandemic.
What could be more “Northern Ontario” than riding up from frozen Porcupine lake right to the door of your favourite watering hole? In this edition of Remember This? The Timmins Museum National Exhibition Centre takes yet another look at The Airport Hotel and its place in the community.
One has to remember that this site was at one time the only airport in the community, all comings and goings (by air anyway) happened here and the accommodations were tip-top.
Wartime superstar Gracie fields (a beloved British chanteuse on par with Vera Lynn) loved staying here while on tour here in the 40s.
A few years prior to the hotel's construction the site was home to the Porcupine Flying School in 1936. It was geared to plane owners and bush pilots at the vanguard of early air travel in the North. These fellas enjoyed the swanky upstairs facilities, dining room, showers, sleeping quarters and lounge all in the company of their fellow aeronauts.
The hotel’s ground-level bar and lounge, known to locals today as the “Shady Lady Lounge”, was open for anyone to come and wet their whistles, enjoy the ambiance and a game of pool.
The Airport Hotel has changed hands several times over its long 80-year run, the most recent proprietress was, of course, the iconic and beloved Elva Evans, who purchased the property from Bill and Dominica Moskal in 1989. Elva was one of those special people who had a vision but also reverence for the location and the spirit of the building.
Undaunted by the challenge in taking on such a project, she, her husband and business partner Al Fitzgerald not only rejuvenated the place but through their ownership, but transformed this Canadian Pagoda granddaddy of Bruce Ave into a thriving business and community hub.
Fun fact, TVO’s two-part documentary Northern Gold released in 2019 used The Shady Lady lounge and the second level lounge as filming locations for interviews with MP Charlie Angus and Director of The T.M.N.E.C. Karen Bachmann.
Over the last 30 years, Elva, Al and her dedicated team have been hosting private and corporate events, providing top-notch service, generating goodwill in the community and keeping a local landmark steady and running for a whole new generation to enjoy.
Each week, the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre provides TimminsToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.