THE COLONIAL HOTEL
Years have gone by and we have one of the oldest landmarks in Grand Bend still standing. Situated on the main corner of Main Street and Highway 21 is the Colonial Hotel.
History tells us that at one time it was called the Brenner House, owned first by Joseph Brenner Sr., who opened it up 1868. He sold it to W. Fritz, who sold it to Ezra Brenner. Ezra Brenner sold it to Joe Brenner, then he sold it to Guy Jones. In 1943 Harold Klopp bought the Brenner House for was about $25,000.
At that time the hotel featured 50 rooms and a dining room catering to 80 people. In 1951 Harold Klopp built the Village's first swimming pool.
In 1951 the Village of Grand Bend became incorporated. Harman Gill was the first Reeve. Lambton County was "wet" and Huron County was "dry." The residents of Grand Bend voted to become part of Lambton County. It is told that a room with board was $25 a week. The menu changed daily.
In 1959 the name changed from Brenner House to Colonial Hotel. The rooms on the lower level were renovated to accommodate the lounge, which still exists.
That year brought the establishment's second liquor licence, the first being in 1911, before Prohibition.
To the east, across from the Colonial where the Bank of Montreal, the Legion, the Fire Hall and the Youth Centre now are, Mr. Kernahan owned three and a half acres where he wanted to develop a church camp. The project came to a halt so Mr. Klopp bought the property and completed the work. The establishment was converted into rooms and had the reputation of being "the place to stay."
In 1960 the structure was deolished and the land sold. Mr. Turnbull owned a home where the current ambulance is stationed. An auction was held and Mr. Klopp bought the adjoining property. Later, he sold it to the Village.
My dad (Mr.Klopp) always like to tell the story of the night he was called to the stables to retrieve a full grown horse that someone had coaxed upstairs. It would not come down.
The Colonial Hotel was a landmark before its time, with fashionable rooms and switchboard-operated phones in each room. The state-of-art cocktail lounge had a real "big city" feel about it.
Glen Brenner, a son of Ezra, owned and operated the Red Gables, situated west of the Colonial. He had cottages in the back which were later removed for parking. Brenner sold to Ron Landry who operated Red Gables for several years. Ron Landry sold to Harold Klopp in about 1977. Red Gables was then converted to a tavern, serving some food but mostly cocktails.
Both the Colonial and the Red Gables underwent many changes over the years. Both became very modernized. The seating at the Gables was increased for a liquor license capacity of 475.
Harold Klopp died in 1996 but his direct family still maintains ownership and operations.