Sydney – Erin Landmeer didn’t build the Hotel Royal, but after 48 years of ownership it has become part of the history of a downtown Sydney landmark.
Landmeyer, known for years by her married name Andrews, is selling the hotel she bought as her widow of two children in 1974.
“My husband passed away in 1969 and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at the time, but I thought I should invest in something,” the now 87-year-old recalls.
‘My mother ran a room house in Montreal where I grew up so I knew a little about it and when I was first offered the Hotel Royal I thought it was something I could handle. Although I had a little trouble getting a mortgage, I ended up buying the hotel after about Five or six weeks after I saw him for the first time.”
The Royal Hotel is located in Esplanade. It is across the street from the civic center of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and back to Charlotte Street Works on the block between Prince and Wentworth Streets.
According to Landmeyer, the hotel was built in 1895 by Dr. Michael MacDonald. Thirty years later it was sold to Mrs. Hearn, who left the property to her son John Hearn upon her death. He, in turn, would sell it to Landmeyer.
“I remember it like it was yesterday – I bought the hotel on July 17, 1974,” she said.
“I find it interesting that the hotel only had three owners – the original owner, Hearns, and myself. I am selling it but it will stay in the family.”
While the three-storey hotel looks pretty much the same from the outside, its interior has been altered, updated and renovated since Landmeyer took over.
“But there are things that have been here before,” she said, citing the hardwood floors, handcrafted stair railings, and working fireplace in the hallway.
“The stag was over the fireplace here long in front of me. I think Mr. Moose was shot in Guysborough Country and Mr. Hearn installed him over the fireplace here in the hall. Mr. Moose is not going anywhere.”
But a lot of things are gone. For several days, the lobby was filled with items for sale that were no longer needed.
However, the memories are not going anywhere.
“Oh, I’ve met a lot of interesting people,” said Landmeyer.
“Alexander Graham Bell stayed here, of course that was long before my time, I even had a guest from Timbuktu. The real one is in Africa. He wasn’t joking. There have been so many guests over the years. I remember American artist John Leaf and her husband Robert Frank, director , who used to stay when they were in town.
“Blue Rodeo made a video here. Well yeah, they shot part of it at the hotel. They came to shoot the video at 7:30 in the morning and didn’t leave for 12 hours – they even set some tracks for the camera to keep it more stable while filming.”
The new owner of the Royal Hotel will be the granddaughter of Landmere Carmen Spino, her grandmother is Irene’s older sister Catherine. Spino is a ballerina and advocate for Alzheimer’s disease, a disease currently afflicting her grandmother.
Landmeyer has no doubts that Spino will do a fantastic job with the hotel, which currently has six guestrooms (it had 11 rooms prior to renovations that included new restrooms).
She noted that she “will continue and I am sure that it will improve it in some ways.”
“She is picky and has a lot of energy. Perhaps she will meet the love of her life here.”
Romance has blossomed at the hotel before when the daughter of Landmere, a resident of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, met her husband while he was a guest at the hotel.
As for the longtime owner, she doesn’t expect to be alien to the business she’s run for nearly half a century. But she wants to spend more time at her home on the Sydney River and has plans to travel to Montreal, where she lived until her parents returned to Cape Breton when she was 16.
“Seeing my older sister is a priority now,” she said, adding that she has a younger sister, Mary Wu, who resides in California. Older sister Isabel Campbell and two brothers Johnny and Donald Landmeyer died.
David Gala is a multimedia journalist at Cape Bretton Post