The Royal Connaught

Sunday 22 June 2014

If only the walls of Hamilton's Royal Connaught could talk. Grandiose and elegant, the former hotel opened in 1916, and over the years, it hosted politicians and celebrities. For decades, it oozed with glitz and glamour, housing elaborate parties and love affairs, including those of Hamilton's most notorious murderess, Evelyn Dick. However, a decade ago it fell to disrepair, becoming a boarded up eyesore we're all too familiar with in Hamilton.

The doors of the Royal Connaught have once again opened, this time as a condo project that will eventually boast 122 units that range in size from 555 square feet to 1084 square feet. I was lucky enough to be invited to the building's gala grand opening, and I can only imagine it was as glamorous as the Connaught parties of the past. The event, which took place in the Connaught's bright lobby, came complete with bubbly, oysters from Two Black Sheep, a sampling of beer from Nickelbrook breweries, and the music of pianist Scott Whittington. A mix of modernity and classic elegance, the Residences of Royal Connaught are an urbanite's dream. The suites, aptly named for Hamilton streets — the Charlton, the MacNab, the Dundurn, the James, to name only a few — are now on sale. 

Stories hung in the air as we all shared our own memories of the Royal Connaught. For me, the Connaught was a place we stole sips from flasks at high-school semi formals, but for others, it had deeper meaning. Stories began with "My grandmother worked here," and "I remember the time my father first brought me to the Royal Connaught," and they ended with genuine happiness that the building will live to see another day. In a year when we've already lost a number of Hamilton's prominent buildings, it's wonderful to see a landmark with so much history return to its former glory, one suite at a time.   

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