Auberge Chesley’s Inn wins national award

September 25, 2019

Auberge Chesley's Inn

Auberge Chesley’s Inn

An historic property in Downtown Cornwall is being nationally recognized for its positive contribution to the community’s social and economic fabric.

Auberge Chesley’s Inn has been selected as a recipient of the National Trust’s 2019 Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Awards as a Transformative Project.

The awards serve to “celebrate exemplary projects, places and people that contribute to the quality of life and sense of place, and illustrate the viability of heritage buildings and sites for traditional or new uses.”

Chesley’s Innkeeper Robert Prowse will accept the award at the 2019 National Heritage Awards in Winnipeg on October 18th.

The National Trust award is just the latest in a series of accolades that Chesley’s Inn has garnered since it reopened as a bed and breakfast several years ago.

“Of course it’s great to get personal recognition on a national stage, but it’s also good for Cornwall and the SDG Counties,” Prowse said. “I will be receiving the award at a conference of heritage and preservation professionals. Hopefully some of them will be curious and will come to visit and explore the rich heritage we have to offer.”

The First Street West building holds the distinction of being Ontario’s oldest inn, having been built in 1814 and serving for many years as a key stop for travelers to Upper Canada.

The inn was built by Alsaints Chesley, one of three brothers from New York State who all fought on the Revolutionary side during the American War of Independence. He brought his family to Cornwall in 1800 where he seems to have had a change of heart as he and his sons fought on the Canadian side during the War of 1812.

Popular local legend has it that Charles Dickens spent a night when he passed through Cornwall during his 1840’s tour of the Americas.

Fast forward to the more recent past where, with the heritage building haven fallen on hard times, it was purchased by Prowse, a television and radio producer and Heritage Toronto board member. He spent the next 11 months restoring it to once more serve its original purpose – a small inn.

The careful attention to detail has paid off – the inn was recently listed as one of the top 30 five-star hotels in Ontario, and it now welcomes guests from around the world.

This labour of love has saved and revitalized an important part of Cornwall’s history, and it has also created economic spill-offs for other businesses in the community. The inn’s Downtown location and proximity to restaurants and shops isn’t lost on Prowse or his guests.

“The fact there is a whole restaurant scene (Downtown) is big. It’s essentially an urban inn,” he said. “People (who stay) go for an evening stroll and then go up Pitt Street for dinner. There’s some great choices there.”

Auberge Chesley’s Inn has four beautifully-appointed rooms along with common rooms and a beautiful private garden. Customers can enjoy breakfasts featuring fresh ground coffee and in-season local foods.

For more information on the inn, please visit the Chesley’s Inn website or check them out on Facebook.

About the National Trust for Canada

The National Trust for Canada is Canada’s national charitable not-for-profit organization that leads and inspires action for places that matter. The organization offers proven tools to save and renew historic places, and a treasure trove of destinations to visit and discover.

For more information on the National Trust, please click here.

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Article by Kevin Lajoie