Skip to content

Dorchester Hotel lives again on Collingwood's main street

From the first elevator in Collingwood to an 'elevated boutique hotel,' the Dorchester Hotel will welcome guests again starting this December

The restoration of a historic hotel hopes to blend heritage with hospitality to bring a roaring 20s feel back to Collingwood’s historic downtown, with a modern twist. 

The downtown building will be accepting guests by the end of the year after a full interior remodel and exterior façade restoration.

Located at 172 Hurontario Street, the Dorchester Hotel has a rich history dating back over 125 years. It was built in the 1890s as The Dominion Hotel and was briefly converted into an apartment building before being reopened as the Dorchester Hotel — which boasted Collingwood’s first elevator.

At one time, the Dorchester was known as a respectable inn with a “bumpin'” restaurant on its main floor. 

Over the years, it changed hands and eventually was converted back into apartments.

In April 2021, the building was purchased by Chris Millsap and his wife, Tammy, with a dream of reconstructing the apartment building into a boutique hotel once again. When the Millsaps bought it, there were retail stores on the ground floor and apartments on all the other floors. They enlisted Amy Harris, an interior designer with AG Designs, to help bring their vision to life. 

"That's the part that excites me," said Millsap, "the rich history of the building." 

The restoration process began that April with the removal of the stucco to uncover the building’s original brick exterior.

"The brick is beautiful, I love that brick," said Millsap. 

The interior was brought down to the studs, and with Harris' help, the rooms have been reconstructed to feel reminiscent of the 1920s, but with all the comforts of modern hospitality. 

"It's the new 1920s," Millsap said. 

After working for the past 18 months, the team officially launched the Dorchester's online reservation system on Oct. 6 and is now accepting bookings starting opening day, Dec. 15, 2022. The newly-renovated boutique hotel will feature 30 rooms, ranging from studios to one-bedroom suites, as well as a lobby that will pay homage to the hotel's rich history.  

“They really wanted to bring that five-star experience to Collingwood’s main street, with a focus of bringing the history of the original Dorchester alive again,” said Liz Burt, the marketing and communications manager of the Dorchester Hotel. "You can feel that old character and elegance as you walk through the halls."

And as the opening date nears, it brings with it a reminder of the hotel’s heritage — and stories of its glory days.

“I knew it had a rich history and a lot of good stories that came with it,” said Millsap. 

Recently, an old tenant of the building reached out to Millsap with a handful of old stories to share. She lived in the building in the 1940s when it was known as the Morrison Apartments, so Millsap and his team have arranged to take her on a walk-through before the hotel opens to the public. 

In its hotel days, guests were known to relish in the delights of the Dorchester’s ambiance while enjoying the excitement along Hurontario St. from their balconies. It is also rumoured that Stompin’ Tom Connors got his start in Collingwood after a year-long residency at the Dorchester. In the 70s, Collingwood apparently had quite the nightlife, with four hotels, including the Dorchester, showcasing live music six nights a week — all of them packed.

Millsap wants to bring that sense of vibrancy back to Hurontario Street.

Although it won't be completed in time for the official opening, Millsap plans to open a lobby bar on the hotel's main floor to bring the Dorchester back in all its glory. In the meantime, Millsap and his team are looking forward to getting people into the hotel and sharing their take on a Collingwood treasure.

"I knew there was something special there to work with, but it came together way better than I ever dreamed it could," he said. 

For more information or to book a reservation, visit The Dorchester Hotel.