Could the Queen's Head become part of the redesign of Civic Square ?

By Pepper Parr

November 15th, 2023



At the November 14th City Council meeting a decision to issue a Notice of Intent to designate a property got a lot of discussion.

The Queen’s Head, a popular watering hole, was getting a new tenant and there was concern that the property could change hands and that it would be wise to designate it as a Heritage property.

While very unlikely, John O’Reilly, the Staff member who worked on Heritage issues (he has moved on to site planning)  produced a report on the history of the building and its importance to the city and that designating it would be prudent..

What was a hotel in 1915 at the corner of Elgin and Brant street looking north.

In comments he made to a citizen O’Reilly said: “Staff consider it urgent because of a high level of public interest in seeing the building receive more permanent heritage protection following closure of the Queens Head Pub and a high degree of uncertainty about the future of the building. Ever since the Queen’s Head closed, the public has been calling and emailing to confirm the building has heritage protection. Separately, the heritage committee recommended that the Council designate the building at their September meeting. The building has long been recognized in city planning documents as an important landmark and a significant piece of history.

There is going to be a new tenant on the ground floor – the owner of the building, Sherwood Holdings, chose not to renew the lease that Ed Catly had on the property for more than 20 years.  Owners have the right to determine who their commercial tenants will be.

A radial electric street car used to run along Elgin. Behind one of the rail cars is the location of Kelly’s Bake Shop. It is expected to disappear when a 17 storey tower goes up on the site. That 17 storeys might grow into 28.

The space is currently undergoing a renovation and is said to reopen in April of next year.  That event just might be worth a flag raising.

There is a bigger opportunity here – given that the city is going to refurbish Civic Square and given that the north side of the Queen’s Head building faces the Square – why not take down the fence that separate the two properties – Civic Square and the Queen’s Head – and include what was once a hotel as part of the Square?

The building is on the Registry but not designated. O’Reilly was advising that a Notice of Intent to designate 400 Brant – you know it is as the Queen’s Head. The city doesn’t want anyone tearing it down, a very unlikely event.

At that the same time the city is looking for ways to make Civic Square a more inviting place – something that lets people use the space.

The North side of the Queen’s Head: Remove the fence, let the vehicles find a different place to park and a major piece of the city’s history could become part of Civic Square.

The north side of the Queen’s Head faces Civic Square – there is a fence that separates the two properties.

Is there a way to integrate the two – making a major piece of history part of a a Civic Square with a new look that wil include a new entrance to City Hall ?

Related news stories:

Queen’s Head to close

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4 comments to Could the Queen’s Head become part of the redesign of Civic Square ?

  • Eve St Clair

    Great !! another Bateman like fiasco with costly repairs and asbestos removal . Maybe the Mayor should sit this one out since she blatantly ruined Bateman

  • Joe Gaetan

    Why do we need a new entrace to City Hall?

    • Gary Scobie

      I’m not all in on this Joe. I’d like to see the building remain privately owned and kept as an historical building and not as an entrance to City Hall but a symbolic entrance only to Civic Square. And no Eve, no Bateman fiasco here (I hope).

      Editor’s note: The suggestion was never that the city own the Queen’s Head property – only that it be integrated into the square from a design perspective.

  • Gary Scobie

    The editor has mentioned this before and I believe that a lot of residents of Burlington would look at the idea with favour. The building would certainly frame Civic Square in a good way on the south side, while preserving a piece of downtown history without integrating it as a token in some new condo slab as is happening with other developments.