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Lasalle Park Pavillion – An iconic fixture in Aldershot

December 2019

The LaSalle Park Pavilion has been a fixture in the park in the Aldershot area of Burlington, Ontario, for 102 years.

The park, originally called Wabasso Park, was re-named in 1923 in honour of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the 17th century French explorer who is said to have come ashore in the area in 1669.

The LaSalle Park Pavilion was built in the spring of 1917, in what was then the East Flamborough Township, on land owned by the City of Hamilton.

Hamilton continues to own the land to this day, leasing it to the City of Burlington for $1 a year.

The pavilion was the centre piece for the park that included an amusement park, one that featured a merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel, games area and a large figure 8 roller coaster. Other features of the park included picnic grounds, athletic fields, pony rides, a swimming beach, complete with a bathhouse built in 1922, and a ferry dock bringing passengers from as far away as Toronto.

Dances and other formal occasions were held in both the pavilion’s open-air lower floor terrace and enclosed upper floor ballrooms. Washrooms and storage areas were located in the basement.

By 1991, the LaSalle Park Pavilion was a shadow of its former self. The upper floor had been closed for years and all the windows had been boarded up. The lower floor terrace was closed to the public that same year.

The City of Burlington began the restoration of the deteriorating pavilion in 1994, but shortly after completing the main floor terrace and re-opening it in the spring of 1995, a massive fire destroyed the building on 19 May, leaving only the concrete basement intact.

Happily, though, just two short years later, an exact replica of the original pavilion was built, including the red tile roof. The long-vacant second floor was re-opened as a meeting and banquet facility.

Today, the LaSalle Banquet Centre operates out of the pavilion, offering catered weddings, business and family events and receptions for over 400 people in the Main Ballroom, Garden Terrace and the Bayshore Room.

LaSalle Park itself has also seen some change. While it’s still a favourite park for family picnics, swimming, sports and leisure activities, the amusement park disappeared almost a century ago, as did the bathhouse not long after; swimming at the park is restricted to a children’s wading pool and passenger ferries no longer arrive and depart from the waterfront. The City owned LaSalle Park Marina now surrounds the former Wabasso Park Dock.

Sources: https://www.tourismburlington.com/partner/lasalle-park-pavilion, https://www.burlington.ca/en/modules/facilities/Detail.aspx?CategoryIds=&FacilityTypeIds=&Keywords=lasalle&ScrollMap=true&id=e592e334-83d8-40e8-881a-b7929ddae9d2, https://www.lasallepark.ca, https://www.edgehospitality.ca/la-salle, http://cec.chebucto.org/ClosPark/LSP-Burl.html, https://www.burlington.ca/en/live-and-play/banquet-centres.asp, “The Prints of Aldershot – A photographic view of another era” by Gary Evans, “From Pathway to Skyway Revisited: The story of Burlington” by Claire Emery Machan & the personal recollections of the author (2019).

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/lasalle-park-pavillion-an-iconic-fixture-in-aldershot/

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