History: Pre-1990

The site was first purchased by Henry Walder in 1877. He passed away in 1888 and the site was inherited by his son Robert Walder.

After visiting the famous Del Monte Hotel in California, Robert Walder decided to bring both the name and architectural style to Preston. He combined the inspiration of the hotel with the mineral springs and built a lavish tourist resort.

It featured a grand staircase leading to three upper floors and was located on five acres of terraced gardens and orchards. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the hotel doubled in size with the building extending south along Fountain Street. The primary attraction was the mineral baths in the basement. The high sulphur content was believed to cleanse the body and treat arthritis and rheumatism.

A competing facility next door, the Sulphur Springs Hotel, opened in the mid- 1890s, and a nearby hotel, the North American (renamed the Kress Hotel in 1900), opened in 1840.

In the early 1920’s the hotel was purchased by Drs. J. Edwin and Gordon Hagmeier, two brothers who had graduated in medicine from the University of Toronto. They operated the building both as a hotel and as a private sanitarium and clinic. With the arrival of the Hagmeiers, the hotel came to be known as the Preston Springs Hotel and operated until the early 1940s.

In 1943, the property was taken over by A. R. Kaufman who almost immediately turned the building over to the federal government to be used to house some to the naval trainees at the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Training Establishment (HMCS Conestoga) in Galt.

It eventually it become a retirement and care facility, until closing in 1990, when the building was boarded up and left vacant.

The property at 102 Fountain Street South was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act for its architectural, historical and contextual significance.

Reference: A Part of Our Past by Jim Quantrell

Categories: History
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