Monday, August 22, 2011
Abandonment Issues: Welcome Inn & Restaurant
Welcome to the Welcome Inn and Restaurant, just south of the tiny community of Welcome, Ontario.
On the road again. The car is packed full of camping gear and a distant destination is in sight. We take the back roads, mapping our journey with new routes every time we criss and cross the province. Very early in the morning, we stop for yet another circumference walk of the long welded shut Milbrook Correctional Centre, and then head south. We explore the Carmel Line House, and then just north of highway 401, we drive up on these raggedy looking buildings. We pull right into the driveway, where two men are standing, looking at us, beside a house that is clearly occupied.
Stealth is not an option, and so we use the highly effective method of talking our way in. A genuine interest in someone's property, paired with manners and respect, is often as good as getting a key cut.
The property owner is not only a great host to us, he is also a wealth of information. After extensive warnings, including that of coyote and fishers, he allows us to explore the Inn ourselves, before joining us for a venture into the restaurant.
It was built in the 50's, and closed eight years ago, he tells us. He bought the property a few years back from "a millionaire Asian Port Hope couple" for $500,000, and hopes to flip it for $2.5 million, as is. He has already turned down an offer for over a million dollars, he says. His son and his dogs live on site to protect the buildings from vandals, and to keep insurance rates down. The on site resident avoids being forced to fence the entire property up, which would be way too costly, he adds.
The owners name is David, and he brought this bike with him from Newfoundland in the 1960's, when he was 15 years old. He was proud to say that only the seat has been replaced.
Free to explore at will, a certain weight is lifted. We take our time poking around inside each room and we wander the overgrown parking lots and field. Check out these photos, I'll meet you back at the restaurant when you're done.
no room key
the carpet DOES NOT match the drapes
PAPER TOWELS Fragile
over the edge
parking at the rear
We walk back around to the front of the Inn and David steps outside to greet us, with a limp. He walks us to the front door of the restaurant, and tells us that not only does the overgrown pay phone still work, people still use it, and Bell still collects from it. He doesn't allow anyone in the restaurant without him present, he says, due to the holes in the floor. He tells us that a man he hired to protect the place was a bigger crook than the thieves that had previously salvaged and looted. This is where my wife ninja takes over. She keeps him near the front door conversing about everything from the building itself to his life story. As I traverse piles of mattresses and large holes in the floor with the camera and snap shots, I can hear him telling her about his life as an addictions counselor with the Salvation Army on Queen Street in Toronto for over 20 years, and about the six kids he raised. He tells her about his disabled wife and the health challenges that he has faced, including almost losing his leg. He wears a cross around his neck, but to him it symbolizes love and has nothing to do with organized religion, he says. Cheers to that, I think to myself in the depths of the kitchen, which is packed with furniture from the Inn. When ninja brings the conversation back around to the restaurant, he tells her that he stayed at the Inn and ate at the restaurant long before buying the property. "The fire would be crackling, people would be eating, it was a beautiful atmosphere." he said.
Welcome Inn Restaurant
please wait to be seated
please have a seat at the bar
tell lie vision
pour me another poor me
After exiting, we continue the conversation out front for a few minutes before thanking him for his time and graciousness, and then we are off to another campsite near yet another potential exploration site, and whatever else we might find.
Prince Edward County, here we come!
We hope you enjoyed your stay at The Welcome Inn & Restaurant. Thanks for stopping by, we hope to see you again.
February 2, 2013
I returned to explore the Welcome Inn with dallas1983, L'Ali and msgsudz, approximately 18 months after my first visit. Again, as we pulled up, David was out front. This time though, not with his son, but his dog. He didn't spot us, and as we exited the car, we couldn't locate him.
Assuming he went inside the house, we took it upon ourselves to look around. Unlike our first visit, almost all of the rooms of the Inn were sealed up tight. In the restaurant, I was rather astounded at the condition of the dining room floor: There were several holes last time, but it is like swiss cheese at this point.
Surprisingly, the pay phone, while covered in a layer of film and dust, is still operational.
Play time is over
Potty training in progress
No child left behind
Angel with a candle in the wind
Please wait forever to be seated
Sitting here now, I find myself smiling, reminiscing on the time we spent with David way back when. Specifically, the way he himself reminisced...
"The fire would be crackling, people would be eating, it was a beautiful atmosphere."
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES