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50-year-old landmark levelled

Famed Royal Muskoka Hotel destroyed by weekend fire

Old hostelry first of type in Dominion

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Bala, May 18—The half-century old Royal Muskoka Hotel, mecca for thousands in this holiday hub of Ontario was burned to the ground, early today, just as it was being readied for the summer season.

The sprawling lodge, 15 miles north of here, was reduced to asjes. All that remained standing were chimneys and fireplaces. Cause of the fire is unkonw.

Maintenance crews preparing the building for the season's opening were the only presons in the vicinity when the blaze broken out at 2 a.m. Volunteer fire crews from Bala and Port Carling were called but were helpless to check the flames.

A spokesman for the Muskoka Lakes Navigation and Hotel Co., which owned the 175-room structure, said replacement value would be between $1,500,000 and $2,000,000.

The hoel was built on an island in Lake Rosseau in 1903. Its first manager was Lucius Boomer, the man who later built the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

The Royal Muskoka, built at a cost of about $150,000, was the first of Canada's luxury summer hotles, and original accommodated about 300 guests. Later, when it was rebuilt and private baths provided for each room, accommodation was reduced to 175.

The hotel was opened by the Playfair family of Midland and the late Hugh C. MacLean of Toronto was president of the original company, a post he held until his death several years ago.

Passing of the Royal Muskoka leaves Bigwin Inn as the only hotel of the type in the Muskoka area. The original bonds for the hotel were guaranteed by the old Grand Trunk Railway.

Mr. MacLean's son, Andrew D. MacLean, recalled that several of Canada's Governors-General were guests of Hugh MacLean at the Royal Muskoka along with other distinguished visitors.

Sir Robert Borden, then prime minister, and Lady Borden were guests of Hugh MacLean at the Roual Muskoka when the First World War broken out.

"I well remember," Andrew MacLean said last night, "driving Sir Robert and Lady Borden in a fast motor laucnh across Lake Muskoka to Muskoka Wharf to catch the train for Ottawa. The was Aug. 2, 1914."

Ref: Muskoka Wharf

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Nearly ready for new season, Royal Muskoka Hotel burns

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General view of Royal Muskoka Hotel, 175 rooms, which was built on island in Lake Rosseau, most northern of the Muskoka Lakes, in 1903.

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Only chimneys remain standing amid ashes of Royal Muskoka Hotel after early-morning blaze.

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Air view of hotel with its golf course.