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Friday, January 18, 2013

At the Quinte Hotel Quinte

Quinte Hotel, Belleville, December 21, 2012
The geographical area encompassing Belleville, Trenton and Prince Edward County is often called the Quinte area...due in no small part to the presence of the Bay of Quinte. A glance through the local phone book yields 150 Quinte businesses and services from Quinte Air Supply to Quinte Winery.

 So I suppose it's no surprise that the area has, or rather, had, two Quinte Hotels. Had, because in the last two months of 2012, we lost both of them to fire.

I told the story of the December 21 loss of the Belleville Quinte Hotel in this post , and again here in my architecture history blog 'ancestralroofs'.

Time will tell what will become of the one undistinguished wing which remains, the five bays to the left in the photo above. All the other walls shown here- which included everything of any architectural distinction - have been pulled down in the course of the fire marshal's investigation.
In one of his most famous poems, Al Purdy writes:
"I am drinking
I am drinking beer with yellow flowers
in underground sunlight
and you can see that I am a sensitive man"...

We all recognize those lines.
But later in the poem he goes on:

"So he says to me 'Come on'
So I Come On...
& knock the shit outa him & sit on him
(he is just a little guy)
and say reprovingly
'Violence will get you nowhere this time chum
Now you take me
I am a sensitive man
and would you believe I write poems?'"

(from At The Quinte Hotel, in Poems for All the Annettes, 1968)

So finally, I have it on good authority. After serious scholarship by the erudite Eric Lorenzen of Trenton High and several associates of the indomitable Ms. Jean Baird, it has been established that this Al Purdy poem immortalized the Quinte Hotel in spite of other reports, including that of Al's own Eurithe, who recalls the inspiration being the Belleville establishment, officially and historically called Hotel Quinte (sounds more splendid, like the hotel itself was, in the beginning. Before its own basement beer parlour days.) 

So the discussion continues, like those rambling debates over tables filled with glasses of beer. There is  incontrovertible evidence supporting the opinion that the poem was written about the Trenton hotel. Al is said to have told people that. And Al, by all accounts, knew his bars... and his beer.

Sherwood Forest Inn (formerly Quinte Hotel), Trenton
To the right is/was Trenton's Quinte Hotel  (aka The Sherwood Forest Inn). Not a lovely spot, by all accounts, in Al's day, or more recently. Suggest we're all better off just reading the poem.

 Quinte Hotel/Hotel Quinte? Quinte Hotel Quinte. Perhaps the name stands in for all beer parlours, everywhere?

 Everybar. Al was a poet after all.

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