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October 29, 2012

Guest Blog: Andrew King discovers the hidden secrets of the Talisman Hotel

Japanese style garden at the center of the mystically-named Talisman Hotel on Carling Avenue. Source: CardCow.com

Do you follow Andrew King on Twitter?  In my humble opinion, he is a must-follow for anyone in Ottawa who's interested in art, design, history, architecture, James Bond, humour, cars, Carlingwood Mall, alleys, Hawkins Cheezies, gimlets, or boating.  Those are all among his frequent topics.  The other night Andrew tweeted about his exploration of the Talisman Motor Inn, better known these days as the Travelodge Ottawa Hotel and Conference Centre on Carling Avenue.  I asked him to write a bit more about the mystically-named Talisman and what he's found out about it...

The Talisman Motor Inn was built in 1963 as Ottawa's premier business convention centre and hotel. It was designed and built by William Teron (who also was responsible for the conception and design of Kanata’s first suburb).

Source: Ottawa Citizen / Google Archives
Teron designed the Talisman with a Japanese theme, including a very faithful replica of a tranquil Japanese garden at the center of the motel. The Talisman was built at a cost of $2-million and boasted convention facilities, a relaxing pool area and nightly entertainment in “The Beachcomber Room”, which soon became the number one hot spot for nightly entertainment in Ottawa.  The Beachcomber Room was "flamboyantly decorated in a Tahitian motif" and also featured a 90-foot mural painted by Count Alex Van Svodoba, who also completed a mural at Carleton University.

The Talisman Motor Inn was also the premier spot in Ottawa during the 1960s, '70s and '80s for wedding receptions, trade shows and seminars. As the hospitality industry began to change in the 1990s, it lost its classic appeal to newer, more modern facilities in Ottawa and was converted into a Travelodge motel.

The Talisman name was dropped and it was extensively renovated with its unique Polynesian theme lost, although remnants of the Japanese gardens are still visible today, as are some architectural details from its illustrious past.

Exterior landscaping and swimming pool at the Talisman Inn, circa 1940-60.  Source: delcampe.com


If you enjoyed this blog post, you should check out Andrew King's Talisman Motor Inn t-shirt...

See also: Ottawa History Guide
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