Prescott Hotel on Preston St. Ottawa
Founded in 1934, The Prescott was one of Ottawa's two original licensed drinking establishments. (The Lafayette House in the Byward Market is the other.)
Its founder, Antonio Disipio, loved to cook and learned his trade at the world famous Chateau Laurier Hotel on the banks of the Rideau Canal, just steps from Parliament Hill.
The business started as a corner store with Disipio making his own sausages and preparing meat. In front, there was room for six tables and seating for about 25. And right from the start, the Prescott was a hit. Three 12-ounce glasses of beer went for 25 cents.
Six years later, the founder decided expansion was the way to go and he doubled the size of the lounge. In 1941 he changed the name to Prescott Hotel and it has been that way ever since. The name came about because the hotel was the last building on the highway to Prescott, a town 65 miles away along the St. Lawrence River.
Dominic Disipio took over the reigns from his father and later passed them on to the third generation - his son, Tony - in the early '80s. Dominic Disipio can remember its opening in '34. He was 14 at a time when laws specified you had to be 21 to work or serve booze in a licensed establishment. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in '43 and went overseas to serve. Back home in '45, his parents needed some help at the Prescott, and he offered to pitch in. He's been there just about every day since.
The diversity of the crowd is what makes the "P" tick. Its three telephone booths are labeled French, English and Italian. It is a place where off-duty police officers can sit at a table with small-time hoods and establish a rapport. And the common bond is sports.
While they stopped renting rooms in '78, the Prescott thrives on office workers, sports buffs and people from every walk of life. Women were only first allowed to be served in the tavern section in '76. While the cry was loud at first, things do have a way of working out.
Boxing great Rocky Marciano was roasted here in the early '60s. Montreal Canadiens hockey legends Aurel Joliat and Doug Harvey were regulars at the "P" every day until they died.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Expos make the Prescott their regular stop on promotional caravans, and new Phoenix Coyotes president Bobby Smith did a lot of growing up at the Prescott when he starred with the junior hockey 67's.
Valuable, irreplaceable photographs surround the visitors to the "P". But this place is not set up as a shrine. It's a place to mingle, enjoy yourself and share the games with friends.