Friday October 2 – by Andrew Horsfield , Sr Sales Manager, Lord Elgin Hotel
Due to my schedule I don’t get to ride my bike to work as much as I would like. Today was the first time in over a week and it was the first day I had to really bundle up for the ride. Fall seems to have truly arrived in Ottawa.
Our city is blessed with some incredibly beautiful bike paths. My commute takes me along the Ottawa River pathway from west Ottawa to downtown. It’s a parkway the entire route that is normally packed with cyclists, roller-bladers, and people running, walking or just sitting on a park bench enjoying the view. But not this morning.
Even though it was pitch black when I set out this morning, it wasn’t long before the first light of dawn was lighting up the path. I quickly noticed there seemed to be far less traffic on the path than August or even early September. Usually I can count on encountering joggers and bikers right away. Instead, this morning it was at least two kilometers before I came upon another biker. My other observation is that the price of the biking outfits seems to vary inversely with the temperature. As the temperature goes down, the price of the outfits goes up. Gone are the cargo shorts and t-shirts of August to be replaced by neon biking jackets and flashy, dry-weave long pants. I bet I was the only one this morning not wearing clip-in biking shoes to maximize speed.
Still it was a wonderful ride for me. The leaves were just starting to turn colour and the river was choppy from a moderate wind. I passed the place where someone has built numerous inukshuks on the river bank and marvelled at stones balanced upon one another. It won’t be long before the ice takes them all away.
I expect path to be busier tonight when I ride home as the temperature rises quickly on a sunny day this time of year. If the wind stays out of the east like it was this morning, then it will give me a gentle push to help me on my way. If it doesn’t, that okay too. At least I can count on passing all the cars lined up for the lights at Sir John A Macdonald Parkway and Island Park Drive. I know I shouldn’t feel this way but it is my favourite part of the ride home.
Well, I am certainly aging myself when I tell you what the hotel was like when I first worked here over the summers while going to University. It was quite a different time in the hotel biz!
My brother knew the General Manager at the time, Don Blakslee and of course, that is how I landed this summer job taking reservations. These would come in by phone or telex machine or snail mail and there had to be two of us in the summer, as that was the ‘busy’ time. My job was to take the reservation request down on a little card – 3 inches by 5 inches (I still have some of these) . It was simply the name of the guest(s), phone number, single or double and dates. No credit card was taken or email address etc. No confirmation number was given, just my name. I would send a confirmation form by snail mail, if requested. Then, to keep track of reservations, each day of the year had a sheet starting with the number 365 and down to 1. At the end of the day you would tick off a number for each night of their stay. There was no distinction between singles or doubles… that would come later. Then the card would be filed by date order in little file boxes. So simple!! With 10 more rooms than we have now, it was an incredibly simple process with only two of us in the reservations office. As you can imagine, it is so much more involved now.
Mr. B, our General Manager, as we called him, lived in the hotel with his wife Joan and their two sons, Pat and Jim and their dogs; first Casey, then Toby. The dogs would keep us company in the office during the day and our guests loved seeing them when they arrived. Joan and the boys would be in and out through the day and we all knew them well. It was very much their home and it has always felt like home to me too. Believe it or not, Mr. B is still in the wings, not as our GM, but certainly as an ambassador who loves to share the many stories of his time here. I returned to this wonderful place that I call home over 10 years ago now, but as the Director of Sales.
I am telling you this, as this coming year we celebrate 75 years of being the Lord Elgin Hotel. Our early story is a fascinating one. We are having it all put into a wonderful publication that we will be sharing in 2016. The more I learn, the more excited I am to share this story. So stay tuned. And..if you have a few tales to tell about your time at the LE, we would love to hear them and share them too. Email me at email@example.com