Brant Inn Plaque
The Brant Inn Commemorated
A commemorative plaque designating the spot where the Brant Inn flourished has been unveiled by Mayor Rick Goldring. It is located at the western end of Spencer Smith Park close to Maple Avenue. For many this will answer the question of where this famous night-spot once stood. The placing of this plaque was a project of The Burlington Historical Society partnering with the City of Burlington.
Although the building itself disappeared forty-two years ago in 1969 the memory of this extraordinary place fondly remains with those who were drawn here by the music, the entertainment and the place itself.
The Brant Inn is a unique and fascinating chapter in Burlington's history. Its prominence as an entertainment venue was largely due to a fascinating entrepreneur – John Murray Anderson, who proved he had what it took to compete with the giants of the entertainment business. All the more remarkable, as he put the Brant Inn and Burlington on the map back in the era of the Great Depression and World War 11, when this community was just a small Ontario town of four thousand souls.
In spite of these negatives the Brant Inn with his guidance became one of NorthAmerica's most noted and successful night spots. John Murray Anderson grew up enamored by show business. His father was a barber who owned a smoke shop and restaurant in Hamilton.
Prior to his involvement with the Brant Inn he hired bands for a number of local dance halls. He was hired to produce shows at the Brant Inn in 1927. He later acquired two partners, Cliff Kendall and Cec Roberts and they began leasing and operating the Brant Inn in 1934.In 1940 they bought the Brant Inn from the Coleman Estate. Cliff Kendal played an important part in the partnership taking care of the purse strings.
Brant Inn's décor resembled a ship's interior. The Lido Deck was the indoor dance hall. An outdoor dance floor was added and named the Sky Club. Its capacity was 1700. The Brant Inn also had a restaurant, beauty salon and barber shop. Due to its appearance and the way it was run patrons often said it was like Hollywood. For many years no hard drinks were served. Only set-ups of soft drinks and ice were sold.
On a typical night, thousands would come to enjoy some of the biggest names in show business. It was the era of the Big Bands and among the famous names that appeared were Benny Goodman ,Lois Armstrong, Lawrence Welk, Jimmy Dorsey and Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Glen Miller, Guy Lombardo, Xavior Cougat, Count Basie, Les Brown and Woody Herman.
Many Canadian and local bands played at the Brant Inn most notable were Ellis McKlintock, Glen Gray, Mart Kenny and Bobby Gimby and locally Darkie Wicken, Gav Morton and Harry Waller. As bands became more expensive and music tastes changed the Brant Inn began to feature more big name entertainers such as Andy Williams. Victor Borge, Ella Fizgerald, Johnny Rae, Martha Ray, Frankie Lane, Liberace, Jane Mansfield, Lena Horne and Sofie Tucker.
John Murray Anderson retired and sold the Brant Inn in 1964. He died of cancer at the age of 67 in 1967.The building was purchased by a developer who planned to build a high-rise condo on the site. The proposed plans were not approved and the Brant Inn was sadly torn down and demolished in 1969.
To many who still have memories of the Brant Inn it is the music of that era that brings back lovely thoughts of the enjoyable evenings when they danced or just listened to some of those great big bands that often played there. Some say that there is a tapestry made up of that lovely music that still hangs out over Lake Ontario.
This article is one of a series provided by
The Burlington Historical Society