The Cornwallis Inn has its origins in the Aberdeen Hotel. Owned by Daniel MacLeod, the Aberdeen became the town’s principal hotel. It was purchased by the Dominion Atlantic Railway in 1919, renovated, landscaped, and renamed the Cornwallis Inn. A larger and more modern hotel was soon needed. The first Cornwallis Inn was demolished in 1930, when the new Cornwallis Inn was built on Main Street. It opened on December 9, 1930, offering accommodations and services equal to the best hotels on the continent. The new Cornwallis Inn was built in two hundred and eight days, and was operated as a hotel from 1930 until 1973.
The Cornwallis Inn was considered one of the most architecturally beautiful hotels in Canada, a fire-proof building of Tudoresque design, of concrete and masonry construction. It contained ninety guest rooms (including four luxury suites) and ten sample rooms for commercial travellers. The hotel had a head porter, bell boys, maitre d’hote, accounting department, chef, maid service, full kitchen and dining-room staff, clerks, stationary engineers and drivers.
The Rotunda was a beautiful room extending across the front of the building. To the right was the main dining room and on the left the main lounge. Occupying the entire ground floor of the central wing was the Assembly Room (or Ballroom), and the Cornwallis Room where local groups including service clubs met.
According to local historian Mabel G. Nichols in The Devil’s Half Acre: “…In 1963 the attractive grounds, well kept flower beds, shade trees, shrubbery and walks disappeared. The ivy was torn from the walls. A half million dollar renovation job was started. Steps and verandas were demolished. In its place a shopping arcade was built. The Hotel contained fifty rooms and several apartments”.
In 1973 the Cornwallis Inn was closed. In 1976 extensive renovations to the main hotel and conversion of the existing rooms to an arrangement of high standard apartments took place.
Between 1930 and 1973 the Cornwallis Inn was a mecca for social events in the County. As a Canadian Pacific hotel it represented the glory days of railway travel in Canada. Today, it houses businesses and apartments, and still retains most of the structural dignity of when it was first built.
Davidson, Heather. The History of Kentville, Nova Scotia. Kentville: Kentville and Area Board of Trade, 1979.
Nichols, Mabel G. The Devil’s Half Acre – A Look at Kentville’s Past. Kentville: Kentville Centennial Committee, 1986.