The British Hotel in Aylmer - At the heart of two centuries of history and heritage - a book by Richard M. Bégin
It is therefore with a keen interest in the history of built heritage that Richard M. Bégin has announced the publication of his new book in December 2022, of which he is both the author and publisher. Covering the period from 1834 to the present day, and published in both French and English, the book, in 8½ x11 format, is printed in full colour and includes 750 illustrations across its 330 pages.
Richard M. Bégin's book was a long-standing project, as he explains to the Bulletin: "[...] In 1993, I had already produced a booklet for the Aylmer Heritage Association. The format was much smaller [...] and the book focused more specifically on the history of the British Hotel from 1834-1838 to 1992 [...]. Afterwards [...], I maintained contact with the owners of the British Hotel.” He continues: "In 2011, Bernice Tchorewski sold the building to Mike Clemann and he carried out a major restoration, not only of the British Hotel but also of the former bank which is now the Café British.
At the opening of the restored British Hotel in September 2016, Mike Clemann asked if it would be possible for me to update my earlier book and [...] Bernice Tchorewski made the same request." The project thus continued, as the author recounts: “I accepted their request, thinking that I would only have to add 2 or 3 chapters to cover the period after 1992 [...]. However, when I set out to 'update' my 1993 book, I soon realized that most of the chapters published in 1993 would have to be revised and even rewritten.”
As for the writing experience, Richard M. Bégin says: "I am very happy with the finished product and the feedback I have received so far [...]. The book that has just come out was extremely demanding, not only because of the breadth of the topics covered, but also because of the format adopted [...]. That said, I certainly don't regret the whole experience [...].
What a lot of things I discovered and learned along the way! As for the relevance of the book The British Hotel in Aylmer - Two Centuries of History and Heritage in an age of constant urbanization, the writer notes: "I'm not overly optimistic, having fought for over 30 years for heritage preservation [...], but I hope that this book will enable new generations first of all, of course, to learn more about the historical importance of the British Hotel itself, and then to appreciate the efforts of one of the few developers who took his responsibilities as owner of a major heritage building seriously and did not hesitate to invest time, money and effort in its restoration."I hope that readers will discover and learn more about the general history of Aylmer, which is far from being a mere "suburb" of Hull or Ottawa," he concludes.
The book (in French or English) is available for $50 from the British Hotel or at the Librairie Bouquinart, the Librairie Le Soleil and the Librairie Michabou.
Photo credit: Richard M. Bégin
Photo caption: Cover of the book The British Hotel in Aylmer - Two Centuries of History and Heritage.