Another of the big hotels at the southern end of the Downtown stretch of Granville Street, the Hotel Martinique (seen here in 1920) was, like almost all the other buildings in the area, designed by prolific architects Parr and Fee. Although the building permit was issued in 1911, the building doesn’t look like it was actually constructed until 1912. It was built by J J Dissette at a cost of $100,000, and the architects knew their client pretty well – Charles Fee was the brother of architect Thomas Fee. Charles was born in Quebec and moved to Ottawa where he was in business with his brother-in-law trading in hemlock bark (used in the tanning industry).
In 1911 Charles was living in the Gilford Street home of his brother, Thomas, along with Thomas’s wife and three children, Thomas’s mother-in-law and his wife’s sister as well as the household’s two domestics. Over the years the hotel saw several name changes, although it was called the Martinique through to the 1940s. As with many other hotels there were long-term residents. Harry Hemlow, one of the members of the first City Council in 1886, lived at the hotel for several years before his death in 1932.
As with many of the city’s hotels, the Martinique had a beer parlour. In 1931 Mrs Rose Low was the licensee, (although George Low was the owner) moving there from the Empire on East Hastings before moving on to the Clarence three years later. During the 1970s the hotel was named the Blackstone, before becoming the Hotel California for Expo 86, complete with a fifty foot high mural. For a time it was on the list of single room occupancy residential hotels and then in the late 1990s, after a major makeover, the hotel became a Howard Johnson’s.