It started, as it often does, with a Facebook post. While scrolling through my feed one day, skimming the selfies, memes, and cat videos, a picture from an old Algonquin College friend of mine caught my eye:
Wait, what? Mark’s at a Jack Astor’s in Ottawa smiling under the Avon Motel sign?
Anyone who lives or cottages around the MacTier area will recognize that iconic sign. It used to be just down the old highway 69, a signal to excited cottagers coming from the city that, “We’re almost there!”
A few years ago when I lived here the first time, I took pictures of the area and was lucky to capture the sign in all its glory before the motel closed.
The sign has been gone for a few years now, so I was glad to preserve its kitchy art deco glory in this digital photograph.
I just had to reach out to Mark. I sent him my photo of the Avon sign in situ and asked, “What the hell??!!!” He told me that he was friends with James Jesty, one of the muckety-mucks of the Jack Astor’s in Ottawa. He even took a selfie with him for my benefit:
So James sent me an email, explaining how the sign in all its glory ended up at his bar:
The Avon motel was a post war roadside beauty in its day. Situated on Hwy 69 near MacTier, Ontario for travelers heading to Parry Sound and beyond. The sign graced the front parking lot and its size and simplicity is reminiscent of signs found along Route 66. My friend Peter tried to buy the sign from a real estate broker in Toronto, then the trail went cold. The property was all shut down and derelict. Very creepy to say the least. I left a business card with a request to buy the sign taped to the front window. A year later the owner contacted me very much to my surprise and the rest is Jacks history.
So that’s the story. Many of us have wondered what happened to that sign. (And many of us are afraid to think of what is going on behind those doors of the now decrepit motel!) Mystery solved! I’m happy it’s found a place where it is loved, where it is on display, and where everyone takes selfies with it!
So if you’re feeling nostalgic, and find yourself in our fabulous nation’s capital, make sure you visit Jack Astor’s Lansdowne, say hello to James and Mark, and send me a picture of you and that beautiful sign!