April 10, 2016


Five of the Imperial Residents are moving into their suites this month.

The Bakery, SweeTs, is opening by the end of the month.

Imagine Travel is moving into their suite at the end of the month.

This is not an April Fool’s joke.  It is happening for real. It will be two years on April 30th that I became the owner of the Imperial [then Eddly’s]. How fitting that my people are moving in around the 30th.  [John Zehr, you were correct when you laughingly said it would be two years before I was done.  I think it was 2 1/2 years before you finished and it will be the same length of time before I am completely finished as well]. This is what happens when you undertake the restoration of a very old building.

Guess who dropped by last weekend – Michael Weber and his former staff member, Cindy.  It was wonderful to see them both and realize it was two years ago already since Mike closed Eddly’s.

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Rick Long, one of our local dry wallers, has adopted this hoody with the Imperial crown on it. His work clothes are in vogue.

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Poor Rick cut his finger last week and sat in Stratford Emergency Department for 6 hours.  It was very painful but he toughed it out and was back at work the next day. He didn’t shed much blood.

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Speaking of blood though, Chuck from NVC, cut his hand a month ago when he was changing the blade on his knife. We left his blood on the floor as his mark on the project.  I have encouraged the men to write their names and leave messages behind wall:  I didn’t expect Chuck to leave his DNA.

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It is time to photograph the groups of workers again.

The Nith Valley family:

[L-R: Rick, Chuck, Dennis, Lynn, Eric, Brian and Shannon]

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The Conestoga Mechanical family:

[L-R: Kevin, Blake, Joel and Adam]

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I asked Blake to check when he began working at The Imperial.  He opened his notebook and said it was April 29, 2015.  I remember that day clearly.  He came in wearing a blue hardhat, set up a small table, placed a large tool box on the table. I only realized later that the box was his lunch cooler.  Little did he know he would be here for a year.

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The Electricomm family:

[L-R: Todd and Joel]

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I have given Todd some difficult problems to solve. He is fantastic at his job and hasn’t let me down.  I have asked him to move fixtures and hang chandeliers and he has never complained.  He has the Imperial spirit in him – but I think he has had his fill of crystal chandeliers.

The Howie Madil DryWall family:

Front L-R: Steve, Al, Josh, Andrew

Rear L-R: Chaos, Emil, Alex, Steve[ and Jody who stood in for Rick who had disappeared for a few minutes]

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I had forgotten to take Jody’s photo.  He has been working on the Fire Suppression System for a few months.  Jody comes in handy at The Imperial. His 6’10” towers above Todd Eby:

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Jody is a great guy who comes to the site usually on Wednesdays – that just happens to be the day I bring lunch.  Jody, Shannon and Andrew have been very helpful setting up and cleaning up after lunch.

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The door we use on Mill Street has been attracting stickers.  I had placed the guard dog sticker on the door initially; since then, more have been added.  I love the random stickers.

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The shaft dilemma was finally resolved a few months ago.  It seemed impossible to design a shaft that would accommodate the exhaust ducts for the restaurant and brewery on the main floor up onto the roof.  The opening for the shaft allowed rain to accumulate on the main floor and in the sunroom every time there was a shower.  Special scaffolding was ordered and set up in the opening and the work was completed within a month.  The entire process required many people to be involved.

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The shaft rises from the third-floor patio up ten feet above the roof:

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The two staircases have been drywalled:

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The corridor ceilings were prepared for drywalling.

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There are a lot of pipes and wires above the elevator lobbies on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

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These areas have now been drywalled.

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The wood handrails were installed by Mike Bender.

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Did I mention that the wood floors were laid over a month ago? Here is Greg testing them out:

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The suites have been painted by Rick and Lyndon from Brody Enterprises.

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Wally and Wes from Brody were on site last week helping out.

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Dennis from Nith Valley is a carpenter by trade.  He LOVES working with wood. He designed and built the interior curved wood trim for the two suites on the 3rd floor addition.

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This photo does not do justice to the magnificent work that he did.

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The original 3rd storey of The Imperial had ‘soldier corners’ or wood plinths.  I have seen this method of joining baseboards in other homes in New Hamburg. Nith Valley copied the original corners and installed new ones in the suites.

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Nith Valley carpenters even put them in the closets!

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Chervin Kitchen & Bath  from Hawkesville designed and built the kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. We have known Kevin Baumann, the owner, for 20 years as his company did all our cabinets and wood work in our house. They are furniture builders and the quality of their workmanship is never disappointing.  They built the cabinets off site and then Mike Bender from New Hamburg installed them.  Every detail was exactly as we had planned, thanks to Daniel Byer who oversaw the project.

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Mike Bender [a quiet and methodical worker]  installed the cabinets:

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There were six different kitchen plans for the building and two of each were built.  The following are some of the kitchens as they were being installed:

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This kitchen has the granite counter top installed and the faucet.

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Oil-rubbed bronze hardware was used throughout the building:

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The oil-rubbed bronze kitchen faucet and Bianca Silgranit sink in ‘Cafe’ colour:

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Lights above the vanity:

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Bathroom sink and faucet:

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Bathroom vanity completed:

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Walk-in shower with custom-made glass doors:

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Oil-rubbed bronze shower door handle:

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White marble seat in the shower:

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Todd, Justin and Joel hung the crystal chandeliers on the 2nd floor:

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A kitchen light:

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Even the door stops are oil-rubbed bronze:

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But the door closers only came in black:

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Small radiators were installed in front of the windows:

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Each apartment has its own mechanical room:

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The sunroom is still being used by Dennis as his carpentry shop.  He loves this room and told me we will have to drag him out by his heels.  This is going to occur any day as we are ready to finish either it/him off.

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A large Imperial sign will hang near the corner of the building where one once hung in the 1880s.  I doubt this sign is any heavier than the original one but safety laws have changed. We couldn’t just fasten it to the building; we had to through-bolt it right through the bricks into the interior of the apartment.  Sadly that meant we had to tear the drywall and insulation off the wall and remove some of the restored bricks; we then installed a massive steel bracket and rear support plate on the inside of the wall.  We did this and then bricked it back up and sprayed new insulation:

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The dry wallers redid this wall again.  This sign will never move during a tornado. We hope to have it hung by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the lobby for the Imperial Suites is showing signs of completion.

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The front vestibule is framed in:

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A massive number of pipes and wires run across the lobby ceiling.  Their numbers and height precluded the 10′ ceiling from being built.

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A fight almost broke out.  I had purchased six antique chandeliers that came out of a Buffalo theatre built in 1900.  These lights are my favourites because they belong in the lobby.

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When I was told that they wouldn’t fit because the ceiling was too low, I balked.  I told the guys to make them fit:  raise the ceiling above where each light was to hang.  I wasn’t giving in.  It worked.  Todd, Lynn and Andrew solved the problem and all the lights will hang in the lobby and central corridor.  Whew!

The elevator is almost completed.  We are waiting for the flooring to come in from Dallas. Until the flooring is installed, we cannot use the elevator. Meanwhile though, the antique floor indicator has been installed:

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As a historical note, Nith Valley built a large time capsule between two interior walls.

During 2015 demolition work at the Imperial Hotel, in New Hamburg, Ontario, shoes were discovered. This was said to be a way to deter evil. In 2016, shoes of those connected with its ownership and construction will have their shoes added to the collection for someone to discover, generations from now.

The first things we placed in it were the old shoes that we found in the building during demolition.  It was a British tradition to hide a shoe in a wall or ceiling of a newly-built building to ward off evil.  We found three children’s shoes in the ceiling of the 1872 building and two workmen’s shoes in the rear 1907 addition.  They were left shoes.  The other important part to this tradition is the shoes have to be hidden again in order for the good luck to continue. We aren’t superstitious, but we felt if the shoes had remained in tact all these years, hidden in their tomb, they deserved to be put back when several generations from now, someone unearths the time capsule.  Ben Eby, our architectural engineer, took all of the shoe photos.

Three children’s shoes from 1872:

child shoe 1

child shoe 2

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Two workers’ shoes from the 1907 rear addition:

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Previous owners’ shoes:

Ken Schmidt’s was the last shoe placed in the capsule.  The dry wallers closed off the capsule before Ken’s shoe was photographed.

Wayne Brown:

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Edward Becker. I saw Ed drive by in his red truck and he saw me and stopped in the middle of the road.  He knew I wanted one of his shoes, so he opened the window to give me a left running shoe.  Only in NH would this hand-off occur.

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Michael Weber’s well-worn shoe:

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Patricia Weber:

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Brian Weber:

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Aime Weber:

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I mentioned to friends to give me a left shoe if they wanted it encapsulated in the wall.  These are their shoes.  Kristen Hahn’s:

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Inside of her shoe, Kristen wrote a lovely letter to The Imperial. Three years ago, Kristen was helping me collect information on the historical houses in the original Village of New Hamburg.  She was with me when I first toured Eddly’s. The following is the letter that she wrote:

Dearest Imperial,

I bequeath to you this beloved ratty tennis shoe in whose affordable embrace I have walked many miles – enough to wear a hole through the sole.

This shoe has crunched lichen in the purple wasteland at Labrador and been made soggy in the dew at an Antigonish morning.  I filled this shoe with white gypsum sand in Alamogordo, and stepped on chewing gum [and God know what else] in Las Vegas.  But for all the places I’ve walked, I feel most privileged to have worn this shoe when I explored the abandoned corners of you back in 2013 when I was honoured to be helping Marie Voisin with her work on heritage buildings  [n.b. the very Marie who only wears sandals despite their being very unsafe in places such as you.]

I walked you when your second storey was an odd assortment of saw dust and shag carpet; when the labyrinth of you tossed me from narrow halls to vast empty rooms of no clear purpose.  And on your third floor, I walked through the bird nests and guano and the dust-filled golden light that cut through broken plywood in boarded-up windows.  I saw the deep red wallpaper hanging in strips from your walls…the tortured angles of your your door frames, and the grey/green mildew that hid in every corner.  

And in truth, I thought you were the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

I’ve come to regard old buildings as things that are alive.  Not in a way that has anything to do with the number of shoes that have walked through them, but alive in their own deliberate ways like there is a certain wisdom that wakes from lumber and stone and mortar only after a century has passed.

And how you still stand, 143 years but with your old bones still strong.  Wise but beautiful, and now vividly awake. Purposeful once more.  You will bring shelter, warmth, and comfort for another century of wayfarers to call your walls ‘home’.

Marie, thank you for saving this life.

With deep affection,

Kristen Hahn

Meredith Hagen’s sandal with printing on the back:

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bottom of meredith's sandal

Craig Ziegler:

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Anita Hanson’s dancing shoe:

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Did you ever think that John Hanson wore crocheted slippers:

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The Imperial Project Team’s shoes:

Laird Robertson, our architect:

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Laird always wore spectacular shirts to our meetings. A shirt competition ensued amongst the men.  Laird kindly donated a shirt to the capsule:

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Ben Eby, architectural engineer and photographer:

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Bob Zehr:

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Lynn Zehr’s boot: he wore a hole in the boot in one year:

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Greg Voisin.  His shoe is in great shape compared to his back pocket:

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Marie Voisin’s sandal:  I went through two pairs of these sandals over two summers.  I just purchased a third pair for the summer of 2016.

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Also included were recent copies of The Indpendent;  a printed copy of this blog; photos of the building and of our family; a $2.00 bill; a toonie, compliments of Andrew Trevisan; the detailed minutes of the Project Team’s meetings; an empty bottle of Oban Scotch.

 The Oban was revered by the project team and was consumed in great quantities.  It became the drink of The Imperial. At our last meeting, Laird was blind-folded and tried to tell the difference between 15 and 20 year old scotch. He didn’t pass the test.

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Eric has been working outside installing trim.  If you see the lift in operation, Eric will be on it:

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The roof on the canopy over the entrance to the Suites has been installed.  There are several more decorative pieces that we are still waiting for:

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We are preparing for the sign band behind Imagine Travel’s sign:

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There are many things happening in Bitte Schon‘s and SweeTs‘ suites.  I will let them reveal them as they progress.

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The door to Imagine Travel on Mill Street has been installed.  Karen will be operational by May 2nd.

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A few people came for a walk-through the building at the end of March.  Two of them were Ernie Ritz and Ed Becker.  Angie Hallman overheard the following conversation between Ernie and Ed:

Ernie: “Well Ed. Things look a little different up here than when you had it”.

Ed: “It’s amazing what a coat of paint will do”.

Both shared a chuckle
Ed: “It’s truly amazing what this place has become”
Both shared a long moment and Angie took their picture to capture the moment.

The Imperial workers have requested some Recipes:

Spanish Chicken  for 4 [Rachel Ray]

spanish chicken

  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (2 lbs.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound cured chorizo, chopped [or hot sausage]
  • 1 red mild frying or bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 – 3 small  ribs celery with leafy tops, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves  garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
  • 1 (15 oz.) diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup sliced pimiento- stuffed olives
  1. In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; add to the skillet and cook, turning once, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Add the chorizo to the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Add the frying pepper, celery, onion, garlic and chile. Cover partially and cook until the vegetables are just softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sherry and cook, stirring up any browned bits.
  3. Add the tomatoes, stock and chicken to the pan. Partially cover and simmer until cooked through, 15 minutes. Stir in the parsley and olives.
  4. Serve on a bed of Basmati Rice with some fresh crusty bread.

Beef Enchiladas  makes 6 servings [All Recipes.com]

The guys were swooning over this lunch.  According to them, it was the best lunch EVER.  Thanks Greg for helping me make the enchiladas.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large casserole dish.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, saute onions until almost translucent. Stir in beef, garlic, and chile peppers and continue cooking until the meat is no longer pink. Pour in the enchiladas sauce,  mix thoroughly and heat through. Remove from heat.
  3. Spoon a little of the meat mixture into a corn tortilla and add small amounts of salsa, Cheddar cheese and olives. Fold the tortilla up and place in the prepared casserole dish. Repeat for the remaining tortillas using up all of the meat mixture. Reserve 1/2 cup of Cheddar cheese for topping.
  4. Pour some enchiladas sauce and sour cream over all of the tortillas. Top with green onions and 1/2 cup of reserved Cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until hot and bubbly.

Enchiladas Sauce [makes 4 cups] Damn Delicious.com

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk in flour until well combined, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in tomatoes, chili powder, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar and 1 cup water; season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Barbecue SpareRibs [sauce recipe from Brody McMahon’s Mom, Janine] [for 6]


  • lots of meaty ribs
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 t. mustard
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1 t. Worcester Sauce
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. pepper
  • 2 t. red pepper flakes if you like some warmth
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 t. liquid smoke
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar

Roast the ribs in a covered pan or cover with foil for 1 1/2 hours at 350

Remove from the pan & cut into portions

Dip in sauce and broil on the barbecue for 5 – 10 minutes until crispy. Don’t overcook them or they will dry out.