A 200-year-old public house in Ontario is set to be demolished this year, despite calls from the local community to preserve the building as a historical site.
The Norfolk Tavern, located at 200 Main St. in Port Dover, was originally a hotel named The Royal Exchange, with its back section dating back to 1812, according to its inscription.
“During the William Lyon Mackenzie Rebellion on 1837, the hotel served as the headquarters for volunteers and for the crew of the 200-ton gunboat, Britomart, which was berthed in Port Dover,” a description of the tavern reads.
“In the basement of the hotel were cells used to imprison American renegades taking part in the Fenian raids of 1866.”
One of the oldest public houses in Canada
is about to close its doors for good. pic.twitter.com/jE1antGQLC
— Stephen Wickens (KC) 🇺🇦 🇨🇦 (@StephenWickens1) November 7, 2023
The tavern currently serves as the home for a locally-owned pub, Gator at the Norfolk, which is set to officially close its doors to make way for the building’s demolition.
“We’re honestly at a loss for words when it comes to the Norfolk Tavern closing up for good. We have A LOT in the works to mark this historic closure,” the pub announced on its Facebook page.
“It’s been a great pub. The customers have been good day and night. The place has got a lot of history. The people are very concerned about it right now, because it’s been around for so long,” owner Matt Smith told blogTO.
Despite the news of its impending closure, local residents took to social media to call on the municipality to protect the tavern as a historical site.
“Such a sad day that will be for Port Dover. History going down the tubes all in the name of the almighty dollar. Norfolk County should be totally ashamed for dropping the ball and letting this happen. It should have been made a historical site years ago,” one person wrote.
“Wow… how can this not be saved with the history. The Gator is such a quaint place. Always a good time,” another customer said.
According to Smith, the tavern will likely be torn down “sometime in December” after being purchased by developers, who have plans to build a mixed-use residential property with commercial space.
Despite the loss of the 200-year-old tavern, the pub is set to be preserved in the new development, although renderings for its future look are not yet available.
Gator at the Norfolk will officially close on Thursday, Nov. 30, with 15 days of live music events in the lead-up to its historic farewell.