Because of the railway, the proximity to the Rideau, and the number of roads passing through it, Westport was once a hub of activity for reasons other than our current bustling tourism trade. Farmers stopping in the village to trade their livestock, cheese merchants coming to town to ship out their goods on the train, and tradesmen staying over for business purposes could be picked up at the station or the waterfront and catch an express stagecoach to one of the many hotels in town. The Wardrobe, The American Hotel, and the Cameron Hotel were just three of the hotels functioning in the late 1800’s in Westport. Of these three hotels, only one is no longer standing.
Fire came close to the doors of The American House Hotel when a nearby hotel burned in 1923 (the 1923 fire will be covered at a later date when we discuss the fires of Westport). Built in the 1850’s, this is one of the oldest structures in Westport. The building is now home to a real estate office, and still stands securely at 40 Main Street.
A still-recognizable building in Westport, The Cameron Hotel became The Merchant’s Bank in the late 1800’s and has remained a bank ever since. Behind the hotel, along the water’s edge, were stables for the guests to house their animals for the duration of their visit.
Lost in the fire of January, 1923 (which is a different fire than the one that came close to the American House Hotel mentioned above), The Wardrobe House sat at the southwest corner of Bedford and Church Streets. The fire, which originated in Win Blair’s grocery store, would take out almost an entire block of the village.