In 1851, the typical hotel, was called a tavern or inn and was generally owner-operated. Even in urban centres such as Toronto, the major hotels were often owner-operated. In rural areas, even villages with 30 people or less often featured at least one hotel. The successful tavern keeper was jovial, of good spirit, courteous and keeper of a good house. The later part of the Nineteenth-Century brought substantive change to the Ontario economy. From a business perspective, according to Douglas McCalla, the late Nineteenth-Century represents a coming of age within Canadian business organization. in Mid-century, the province had been operating in an Eighteenth-Century model. Types and formations of business were dominated by small capital operations, managed largely by generalists, rather than specialists. The Ontario economy underwent a metamorphosis as structurally, business became more bureaucratic and corporate in nature. “Management became generally divorced from ownership” . This change was very prevalent in the hotel sector. By the First World War, the hotel had become a corporate entity. Very few establishments were owner-operated, and where they were, they marked the exception rather than the rule. Increasingly, complex financial arrangements marked the keepers’ trade. A specialized skill set had emerged, one that marked keeping as a career rather than a job and one that allowed them to recognize substantial financial return from the day-to-day operation of a hotel, rather than capital appreciation of the business itself. Hotels were leased as going concerns and more often property owners employed ‘professional’ keepers to manage the hotel for the owner’s financial reward. Hotel keeping evolved from a job to an occupation, marked by an accumulated base of experience and specialized knowledge that was crucial for success in the trade.
Last Updated : October 2, 2003 © Shawn Day