• James Parry

Hudson's Auberge Willow Inn sold

It's official. Hudson's historic Auberge Willow Inn with roots going back to circa 1820 that closed on November 1 last year has been bought by a Montreal business couple – David Ades and Patricia Wenzel – following the official signing of documents last Thursday afternoon, January 12. And it is understood that the historic property overlooking the Lake of Two Mountains on Main Road will reopen this spring.

Under what format, however, remains unclear. For when Your Local Journal asked this question of Ades on the steps of The Willow on Tuesday afternoon, he said politely but succinctly, “No comment at this time.”

Asked whether his plans called for the property to continue as a bar and restaurant, Ades reiterated, “No comment at this time.” As for speculation on the part of some that it might give way to condo residential development, he again answered, “No comment at this time.” A British pub? “No comment at this time.”

For his part, and when contacted in Florida last Thursday, former owner Michel Poirier, told YLJ, “I know that in recent weeks there have been many rumours circulating in town about the future of The Willow and it having being sold. In this instance, I'm pleased to report that as of 3:40 p.m. today the rumours are true. The papers were signed this afternoon.”

Added Poirier, who recently sold his IGA stores in both Hudson and St. Lazare and who bought the Willow with two partners - Pierre Lanctôt and Carole Ménard - in 2013 and who became the sole owner in 2015, “Obviously I cannot speak for the new owners, but I would like to thank Mayor Ed Prévost who was so open-minded on the part of the town and for helping make this sale possible, as well as some of the former personnel and staff who have waited for this day.”

Poirier closed the landmark last fall citing the fact that, despite having good summer seasons, the operation was losing money on a year-round basis.

The Auberge Willow Inn was originally built as the private home of George Mallette and his family around 1820. Four years later, the house was purchased by François Xavier Desjardins, then the only French-speaking member of the community who operated it as a store. F.X. Desjardins was a great Patriot and his store became the local headquarters of Le Mouvement des Patriotes secretly and illegally gathering arms and ammunition for the cause.

Since then over the decades, the establishment has been operated as a boarding house by the Brasseur family, a residential hotel by the Léger Family, as a pub, dining room and inn by first the Garbutts, then Jim Ross and John Corker, and eventually by Mike Dobbie and Ron Rozon for 30 years.

According to the Auberge Willow website, in June 1989, the inn was completely destroyed by a kitchen fire but was rebuilt within a year and every effort was made to recreate the style of the original inn being completed in December 1989.

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