The Lafayette Celebrates 163 years of History, Myth, and Intrigue

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By Adam Slight

The Lafayette, a local favourite tavern in the Byward Market, is celebrating its 163rd year in business next week.

Wait a second.

Try to wrap your mind around that for a second.

The Laff is about as old as The Byward Market itself. Seldom do you find an operating business in North America that has been running that long! While most bars are trying to stay open for 5 years, The Laff is humming along nicely at over a century-and-a-half!

A postcard discovered in a bricked in old fireplace in The Lafayette, dated 1908.

Having been around for 163 years, The Laff’s history is rich with cool history, outlandish legends, and intriguing mystery.

The history is a bit foggy– I’m told that The Laff began as Grant’s Hotel in 1849, possibly changing names and ownership several times until 1936 when it finally became Chateau Lafayette House. The Lafayette was then purchased by James Scott and Bill Bouris in 1966, and has remained in the Scott family ever since.

Rumour has it that many significant historical figures rested their weary heads under The Laff’s welcoming roof over the years. Queen Victoria apparently dropped into The Laff for a drink on her one trip to Bytown (although some historians believe that Queen Victoria never actually visited Canada) while Sir John A. Macdonald, a know drinker, also supposedly stopped at The Laff for a pint or two on a trip from Charlottetown.

The Laff is also rumoured to have been visited by spirits from beyond.

A boat ticket, also discovered in bricked in old fireplace at The Laff, dated 1910 (and found upside-down!)

Patrons claim to have seen the ghost of a young girl on the second floor of their rooming house while one staff member even claims to have experienced the haunting of a bewitched jukebox that, unprompted, played three Elvis songs in a row while she was alone in the bar.

Next week The Laff is commemorating its long history by celebrating the people who make The Laff the local favourite that it is. There will be a week of celebration honouring the many people who The Laff feels indebted to: the musicians, bartenders, servers, and patrons of the bar.

We would like to congratulate The Laff on 163 years in business, and wish it another 163 years of success and crazy stories!

Their celebration event calendar is as follows:

Wednesday Night: A night to honour musicians, servers, and bartenders

Thursday Night: Closed for a private event of more celebrating

Friday Night: A night to honour the history of The Laff, with The Haunted Walk present for story-telling

Saturday Night: A night to honour “the regular patron, the irregular patron, the once-in-a-while patron, the late-night patron, the as-the-door-opens patron, and the ‘it’s-time-to-go-home’ patron.”

Sunday Night: A night to honour the community, with an arm-wrestling tournament raising money for Movember.

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