Today, June 29th, would typically mark the beginning of an extremely busy week in our hotel. With Canada Day just two days away, we would be in super busy prep mode getting everything ready for the big day. The check-list is reviewed over, staffing is beefed up, supplies are counted and recounted to be sure we have enough. Staff are outfitted in red t-shirts and caps. We are all revved up and ready!
Starting days prior to Canada Day, tourists coming from near and far are checking in with all the necessities for the big celebration. The entrance to the hotel is buzzing with excitement. The anticipation in palpable. Everyone loves the energy. The valets are running back and forth to the garage. Luggage carts go up to the floors and we follow to try to keep up with the demand for them in the lobby. All hands are on deck to help.
We are blessed with one of the very best locations in Ottawa for this special day. Being on the ceremonial route, the day starts with the changing of the guard marching up to the hill, right in front of the hotel, as it does every day from the end of June to the end of August; a tradition we never tire of watching. The street is closed to traffic and the parade of people continues all day and into the evening. We love it!
Confederation Park, is a buzz as the Jazz Festival has free performances all day!
Our patios are buzzing with people. Starbucks cannot open their doors early enough for the early birds coming to get their morning Joe on the way to the festivities. Our Grill 41 patio is serving breakfast and is busy as soon as the doors open at 6:30am.
Given our location, many locals, as well as our guests, come in to cool off and rest for a bit in our air conditioned lobby. Given the heat we often experience on Canada Day, our location is perfect for that. Our guests venture out for a while, come back in to rest and cool off and then head back out for the big finale – the fireworks that caps off this day!
This year, we will have none of these festivities. The entertainment and excitement has moved online where you can take in virtual performances and celebrations. Not your typical Canada Day!! Our hotel sadly remains closed. The tourists are just not coming this year due to COVID-19. It will be year like no other is our long history – almost 80 years.
So next year, when we do in fact celebrate 80 years and hopefully we have climbed our way out of this pandemic, we will celebrate like we have not done in some time. It will be likely as big or bigger in the hearts of Canadians, as our 150th was.
We at the Lord Elgin are a resilient lot. We have been through a lot and are a hard working, dedicated and committed team. We will survive and thrive and while we are not together, we all join in the desire to welcome you back!!! We sure miss the excitement you bring to us on this day and every day.
Happy Canada Day all!!!!
I have worked in the hotel and tourism industry for most of my adult life and never have we witnessed such a terrible blow to our industry as we have since the onset of COVID-19.
The Lord Elgin Hotel was built in 1941 during the WWI to address the needs of those coming and going during the war effort. Prime Minister Mackenzie King recognized a need for a hotel at that time and it became his project. So much of who we are today from our location, design and construction were directly influenced by our Prime Minister King. A book written in 2016 to mark our 75th lays all this out in great details.
We have been through a lot of ups and downs over these 79 years, but I do not think we have every seen anything impact us like this. We are trying to see the silver lining, but it is tough. Resilience, patience, persiverence, compassion, surrender…these are all words that come to mind. As a hotel that has been through so much, we will have to accept those things we cannot control – as the serenity prayer puts it so perfectly.
The silver cloud is that with spring’s arrival, we can now go outdoors and walk, cycle, run or just sit and take in our beautiful surroundings. We live in this beautiful city of Ottawa, in this beautiful province of Ontario, in this amazing country of Canada. We breath fresh air, we drink clean water…we are so very lucky!! I am so very lucky!
I miss my team and all those people that work so hard each day at our hotel. They are waiting patiently to return, as am I. We are keeping the engine going in the background!! We will survive!!