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History Of The Ojibway Club

The Ojibway Club was built as a hotel in 1906 by American entrepreneur Hamilton C. Davis who first visited his sister Helen in Pointe au Baril in 1902. The hotel hosted guests for 60 years until the late 1960s when it stopped taking overnight guests, but today it continues to be the social and recreational centre for Pointe au Baril’s summer community.

Tucked in the tall pines, The Ojibway Club stands sentinel to a century of summer memories. An excerpt from At the Ojibway – 100 Summers on Georgian Bay by David MacFarlane reads:

The Ojibway Hotel opened on June 23, 1906, and it was an immediate success. The hotel’s guests were middle- and upper-middle-class folk who arrived with their trunks, their long dresses, their linen suits and their summer hats. They came for two-, three- or four-week stays by train from Rochester, from Cleveland, from Cincinnati, from Pittsburgh, from Buffalo, from Hamilton and from Toronto. They were travellers who disembarked from the steamers that brought them from Collingwood or Penetang or Parry Sound. They came to relax on the hotel’s pleasant veranda, to stroll the hotel’s dock at sunset, to play bridge, to read, to row, to paddle, to swim and, of course, to fish.

As well, the Ojibway became, almost immediately, central to the growing population of cottagers of Pointe au Baril. The first islanders’ regatta was held at the Ojibway dock in 1907, and is still held there, on the first weekend of every August. The Pointe au Baril Islanders’ Association was formed at a meeting at the Ojibway Hotel in 1908, and for many years Hamilton Davis was listed as either the secretary or the treasurer of its executive. It was almost a daily ritual for many cottagers to make the trip to the Ojibway to meet the steamer that brought the mail and to buy provisions at the store. Later, visits to the gift shop, pickups from the laundry and Saturday-night dances all became part of a week’s routine for many cottagers. Its dock quickly became the natural place for boys to look for girls and, by happy coincidence, for girls to pretend that they were not looking for boys.

Indeed, so successful was Hamilton Davis in making the Ojibway a place that most cottagers thought of as theirs that when he decided to sell the business, after running it for 36 years, it was a group of islanders who stepped forward to buy it. It was unlikely that they would ever turn a profit. There were wiser investments in 1942 than a big old hotel on Georgian Bay. Their intention was to ensure that the Ojibway continue as a suitable and essential part of the summer community of Pointe au Baril. They’d be pleased with the dividends.

Click HERE to read more from David’s book and to find out more about the Ojibway Historical Preservation Society (OHPS), whose mission is to “restore, preserve and protect those structures in the Pointe au Baril, Ontario area designated as historically and architecturally significant pursuant to the Ontario Heritage Act.”