Despite Mr. Smith’s entrepreneurial success, Mr. and Mrs. Smith established their family life in Dundas, Ontario. To maintain his prosperity, Mr. Smith travelled to Toronto a few times a month to confer with his partners. Mr. Smith’s business excursions were improved when the Ford Motor Company released their Model T, giving Mr. Smith more autonomy in his transportation.

Mr. Smith was due to be in Toronto on September 17th for a typical business meeting. With the luxury of the automobile, Mr. Smith was able to extend an otherwise crammed day of business discussions and train riding into a scenic road trip with an overnight stop.

After steering through many kilometres of Lakeshore Road, Mr. Smith decided he had enough driving and pulled into the Hotel Gibson in Oakville. Here, Mr. Smith was able to get a strong glass of scotch and a good night’s sleep to continue his journey the next morning.

Several years after Mr. Smith’s trips to and from Toronto, Hotel Gibson was burned to the ground and replaced with the Halton Inn, opening in the 1930s. In the 1950s, the Oakville Inn Hotel sign was built in an effort to continue attracting vehicular traffic as its main customer base. The Oakville Inn Hotel sign remains in its place today.

After a sweaty and sunny summer day of exploring Oakville on foot, my friend and I drove down Lakeshore Road on what seemed like one of its busiest days of the year. The sidewalks were packed with bustling crowds, stores had lineups wrapped around their buildings, patios were crammed with hungry mouths, and the roads were congested with every type of car and motorcycle. Our growling stomachs became the second priority to finding a parking spot.

We settled on ordering food to go from a burger joint, waiting in the hot sun, and watching everyone else consume. While this situation would typically result in becoming hangry, we enjoyed our time walking down Lakeshore Road, making conversation as close friends do.

Knowing that I usually have my camera on me, my friend pointed out a vintage sign, suggesting a perfect picture in the making. With my love for retro architecture, this was a prime opportunity to stop and appreciate the little things in life.

When I got home that day, I did some digging into the history of the Oakville Inn Hotel and discovered its history dates back to the early 1900s. While the hotel’s ownership and name changed several times, this 1950s sign serves as a reminder of the history and significance of Lakeshore Road. Lakeshore Road was built in the 19th century and has served as a major roadway for travel between Hamilton and Toronto for over 100 years.

While the Oakville Inn Hotel sign creates a vintage aesthetic in downtown Oakville, it also conveys a story about southern Ontario’s history. Next time you find yourself in a city, take a closer look at your surroundings and question their significance; you may find a hidden gem in plain sight.  

Photo of the Week is a weekly series that showcases and elaborates on my photography, photography from my fellow creatives, and famous photographs.

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