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Christopher Ryan: The Colonel has Left the 'Burg (History of the Hintonburger building on Wellington Street West)

A weekly feature by Christopher Ryan, a local photographer, blogger and researcher.

Standing proud at the corner of Wellington West and Sherbrooke in Hintonburg. Image: May 2014.

The Hintonburger has been slinging Hintonburg’s favourite burgers for some time now. In 2012 a growing business necessitated a move from the original location (home to SuzyQ today), to the recently-departed KFC down the street. Though they initially tried to save the instantly recognizable bucket for nostalgia’s sake, it was not possible without the Colonel’s permission. Which they were denied. So then, when was the bucket perched upon the post?

Google Street View, c. 2009

Though they have rapidly disappeared in the city, there used to be a large number of Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises owned and operated by Scott’s Restaurants (“Chicken Villa”). Looking back at the proliferation across the city, it becomes clear that they have largely disappeared as quickly as they appeared.

Scott’s Restaurants was the venture of Toronto-area entrepreneur George R. Gardiner. At some point, he seems to have secured the franchise rights for the Bowles Lunch outlets in Ottawa and Toronto and began to grow the business.

By 1957, the Bowles name and image was becoming to be seen as more than a little tired – the men’s only restaurants hardly captured a family image, to say nothing of the (slowly) growing feelings of equality. Gardiner secured the franchise rights to Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1961 and began to sell the Colonel’s secret recipe in the existing Bowles restaurants which he soon re-christened as Scott’s Chicken Villa to match the number of other opened Scott’s Chicken Villas.

In 1965, Harland Sanders and his wife relocated to Mississauga in order to oversee the operations and make sure that Scott’s was not only doing chicken right, but also rapid franchise expansion.

Scott’s makes its big play and doubles down on the chicken. Note that the ad-icle explains how franchising works. In Greater Ottawa, there were already seven outlets when the Colonel’s mug was applied. Also note that the ad-icle seems to finesse some of the history and so do I. Just a little. The main idea is Gardner is Scott’s is KFC by 1969. Source: Ottawa Journal, October 25, 1969.

The Colonel was mighty proud of his boys in Ottawa. We like to think that he was proud of Lucille Champagne as well, who managed the original location (former Bowles Lunch) at 134 Sparks. Note the chicken-bone “V” in “Villa”. Source: Ottawa Journal, March 24, 1972.

Scott’s Chicken Villa arrived in Hintonburg in the fall of 1969, at the same time as the major announcement. Prior to the arrival of Scott’s, the lot at 1096 Wellington West had most recently been occupied by Gordie Panatlone’s British-American service station.

The corner of Wellington West and Sherbrooke was the home to Gordie’s BA Service Station. Image: 1965 Aerial (geoOttawa)

Gordie’s BA also wasn’t the only Hintonburg service station to replace by fast food. Cliff Harris’ Esso Station at Wellington and McCormick was replaced by an A&W Drive-In, around 1970, before becoming the Royal Bank that it is today.

Although it may not seem like it today, Hintonburg was a rough neighbourhood when Scott’s arrived.

It wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last time that the Hintonburg K-Fry was robbed. Source: Ottawa Journal, October 29, 1975.

Bet you didn’t know that Harland Sanders loved the safari. Bet you also didn’t know that Colonel Sanders lived in Mississauga either. That’s where he met the lion. Sanders and his wife moved there in 1965 in order to oversee Scott’s in the opening of the outlets in Canada. Source: Ottawa Journal, July 14, 1966.

Though the Scott’s name may have disappeared from the landscape it doesn’t mean that they’re gone. While the franchising wing (Priszm) filed for bankruptcy after a lengthy dispute with Yum (KFC’s parent), Scott’s Real Estate Investment Trust rolled on. In 2013, it was purchased by Plaza Retail REIT . The ghosts of rotating buckets both past and present may be found in their restaurant space portfolio.