Auberge Chesley’s Inn wins transformative project award

Image of Shawna O'Neill
By Shawna O'Neill
Auberge Chesley’s Inn wins transformative project award
Owner of the Inn Robert Prowse (Shawna O'Neill/Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – Ranking among the top 30, five star hotels in Ontario, Auberge Chesley’s Inn recently won an Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award, celebrating its transformation and heritage.

Built in 1814, the Inn was the first ever building to exist in Cornwall. Robert Prowse, former television and radio producer, saved the heritage building from falling into a state of disrepair in 2013 and spent 11 months restoring it back to serving its original purpose: entertaining and lodging individuals as an Inn.

“It had frozen up so there was no heating or plumbing. It had to be completely redone…there was nothing here and it was completely empty,” said Prowse. Prowse also furnished the Inn, drawing on French design influences mixed with a bit of modern art and historical pieces.

The Inn is recognized among nine other spaces across Canada under the Transformative Project category. Prowse said the award is significant for the area as he was asked to give a speech at the ceremony in Winnipeg later this month.

“It’s great to be recognized and also it’s very good for Cornwall…(my speech) will reach a larger audience and help promote Cornwall,” said Prowse.

Prowse said most of his guests visit from out of town, but on occasion he sees locals book a room for an anniversary or celebration. Although accommodation is the main priority of the building, Prowse has rented out floors and available spaces for parties or conferences as well.

One couple from Ottawa that stayed at the Inn googled ‘romantic getaway’ options in Eastern Ontario, which brought them to our city for the first time ever. Prowse said he also sees a number of European travelers, many starting their Canadian vacation in our city at his Inn.

“I think sometimes local people are too familiar with the history to realize what an asset it is. That’s why people come here…they don’t want another cookie cutter hotel, they want something different…” said Prowse.

Prowse is happy to see an increase of awareness in ‘landmarks not landfill’ revitalization initiatives involving historic buildings, supporting the preservation of history and aiding the environment.

“I am happy to see the City is essentially doing this with the new Arts Centre, the BMO building. Again, instead of building some flashy new building, they’ve got architects looking at what is a really fine heritage building from 1911…” said Prowse.

Although it has not been documented, it has been rumoured that Charles Dickens and Thomas Edison stayed at the Inn, among many famous North Americans.

“Here you feel like you’re somewhere, not just anywhere,” said Prowse.

To learn more about the local gem, visit its website here.

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