Where are Oshawa’s notorious properties? Here are a few that have had residents talking:
Hells Angels Club House: Now home to a low-rise apartment building, 487 Ortono Avenue was once the clubhouse of the Hells Angel’s biker gang. When police raided and seized the premises in 2006, they found it heavily fortified, protected with a steel door, security cameras, secret listening devices, and full of the gang’s membership and accounting documents.
The clubhouse was demolished in 2010, but not before a Toronto Star reporter was allowed a supervised tour. The reporter dryly noted that while the club’s surveillance was high tech for the time, they found a baseball bat hidden behind the bar – for dispensing old-fashioned justice to those who got out of hand.
Rundle House: When James Edward Rundle moved into his brand new home at 364 Simcoe Street North in 1916, it’s unlikely he would have predicted the battle that would eventually ensue between the Oshawa Hospital Foundation, Oshawa City Council, heritage advocates, and neighbourhood residents about the fate of his spacious, classic Edwardian.
Rundle House, as it became known, was home for many years to the Rundle family, but was eventually turned into rental flats before landing in the hands of the Oshawa Hospital Foundation in the early 1990s, where it sat vacant.
In 2005, the Hospital Foundation applied to have the house demolished due to the poor condition of the premises, planning to build a brand new lodge for cancer patients in its place. But local heritage advocates disagreed with bulldozing the property, saying the house should be preserved. Enter Oshawa City Council, who sympathized with the heritage advocates, and delayed demolition by voting to study the idea of designating parts of Simcoe Street North a heritage district.
The study went ahead, with stage one concluding that there were historically significant homes in the area. But the community was so strongly against a historic designation, the study didn’t make it past stage two. So in 2008, Rundle House was finally torn down.
But nearly a decade after demolition, the site, which is just north of Hospital Court on the west side of Simcoe Street, still sits empty. Where’s the cancer lodge?
It won’t be built anytime soon. In 2012, the Hospital Foundation put plans for the cancer lodge on hold indefinitely, with the funds reallocated to higher priority needs. Until then, it’s just another of Oshawa’s empty lots.
The Genosha Hotel: After years of being tarred as Oshawa’s biggest eyesore, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the much maligned Genosha Hotel, located at 70 King Street East.
Built between 1928 and 1929, the grand Genosha Hotel once offered luxury accommodation – even hosting the late Queen Mother for a night in 1939. But when the ’70s arrived, the fate of the Genosha turned sour. The one-time community hub and pride of Oshawa became a rooming house and tavern, with a notorious strip club in the basement called the Million Dollar Saloon.
In 2005, as plans to clean up Oshawa’s downtown were put in place, city council got tough on the Genosha, and closed the Million Dollar Saloon by becoming the first municipality in Canada to outlaw adult entertainment (the Dynasty hotel/strip club was another casualty of the bylaw, but that’s another story).
And a few years after the Million Dollar Saloon pulled it’s last, erm…pint, things started looking up for the beleaguered landmark. In 2009, Richard Summers and partners purchased the property, captivating local media with their ambitious plans to renovate the hotel back to its former glory, all while respecting the restrictions of the recently imposed historic property designation.
As time marched on and the Genosha remained unchanged, it became obvious that the Richard Summers and partners project had run into trouble. And indeed, the hotel was quietly sold to a development company called Bowood Properties in 2015.
To the relief of many, Bowood’s renovation is actually progressing. The exterior bricks have been power washed, and windows replaced, with the final goal of providing a residential and commercial space within 12 to 14 months at the cost of $8.5 million.
And we’re confident the landmark that once hosted British royalty will be given a royal welcome back when it reopens in 2016.