By Melissa Cole, Curator
The need to bring a first class hotel to Oshawa in the 1920s was part of the emerging identity of the town as a corporate centre. General Motors was in the midst of a modernizing and expansionist program, and the future prospects for the town were good. When it opened in 1929, the Genosha Hotel offered luxury accommodation. The unfortunate timing of its inaugural year, coinciding with a severe downturn in the national economy and the ensuing depression, undermined its financial viability for several years. In spite of this, the Genosha was a popular meeting location of our industry leaders, the travelling public and proved to be the hub of community activities. Whether it was for a Club meeting, family gathering, business luncheon, coffee, dinner, or dancing, the Genosha was the venue of choice. It was the bus terminal, radio station, and home to a variety of offices and shops.
The Genosha is fondly recalled for its place in the life events of many local residents. As Oshawa’s first luxury hotel receives its finishing touches to open as the new 70 King featuring one-bedroom and studio apartments in the heart of Oshawa’s downtown, I thought I would share a recent acquisition to the Oshawa Museum’s collection related to the Genosha Hotel.
This beautiful yellow ceramic trinket box was given to a member of the donor’s family at the opening of the Hotel Genosha in 1929. Written on the side of the lid in gold lettering is “Hotel Genosha, Oshawa.” The decoration on the lid is inspired by the works of Fragonard, one of France’s leading rococo painters who specialized in libertine genre and gallant scenes. The central motif is of a young woman listening to a young man who appears to be serenading her with bagpipes. The sides of this motif are framed with a vine of gold motifs. The interior of the lid and bottom features a colourful floral motif. As the Genosha begins a new life as 70 King, this small artefact reminds us that this building has been a part of Oshawa’s history for 90 years.
To read more about the Genosha Hotel, I recommend this article written by Joel Wittnebel who spoke with our archivist, Jennifer, at the Oshawa Museum: https://oshawaexpress.ca/the-genosha-saga/