The Airport Hotel is a legendary South Porcupine establishment, steeped in local heritage and memories of good times. Its new owners are working to bring back the glory days, renewing the company’s legacy.
Judy and Paul Dubeau bought The ‘Port – a longtime nickname for The Airport Hotel – in February after moving from British Columbia
“It was a hangout when I was a young adult,” said Judy, who was born and raised in Porcupine. “My sons and my granddaughters are here. At this point in life, my husband and I decided to open a business and get them started.
“We are only the fourth owners. He was born in 1936.
“It’s something that can be left in our legacy.
The family takes care of improvements and is committed to preserving the heritage of the hotel. The downstairs bar keeps its name, The Shady Lady.
“That’s the original name,” she said. “We kept this because it’s history. We have the bar open. We have open pub dishes. We have a strategic plan to get it all back up and running.
The bar’s cuisine is a great success with customers.
“We’re famous for our pickles,” Dubeau said. “It’s stuffed dill pickles (with bacon and cream cheese) and they’re wrapped in an egg roll wrapper. Then we serve that with homemade ranch dressing. We cannot keep them. As soon as they are made, they are sold. I make a hundred a day.
She’s busy in the sparkling clean kitchen for several hours before the doors open to the public.
“All of our food is homemade,” she said. “So these are fresh cut fries. We make poutine à la Québécoise. And have very generous portions.
“We have an eight-ounce beef patty. It’s a monster – half a pound of beef. It’s a different burger. We call it the legendary. It contains a homemade sauce, a spread, which is basically a French onion dip with a few extras. The bottom contains red onions and pickled beets. So it’s a unique burger. It’s very special.
“We have a menu for pub food. Every day of the week we have a special. Just to see how the items will take off or if they won’t sell.
There is a rush almost every day for lunch.
“We receive a lot (at lunch). We get the hydro crews, the nurses and the teachers,” Dubeau said. “It really takes off. Lots of locals. People driving from Timmins.
But nightlife is picking up at The Port, and pub food is a hot ticket.
“Evenings are our busiest times,” she said. “We have the lunch rush, but our evenings are busy.
“We had live shows a few times. In the summer we will have backyard events sponsored by Molson.
There is a special every day. The Legendary burger, served with fries, is one of them. They have battered wings and fries. One day, it’s soup and sandwich that introduces a new generation to the joys of hearty homemade soups.
‘It’s very interesting. A lot of young people, they’re not used to homemade soup,” Dubeau said. “Just like our chili and our cheese. We do chili fries with cheese or nachos with cheese. And the cheese sauce is homemade. That’s why I get up so early to get ready.
At the same time, they are working to bring the rest of the building and the shops back to life.
“It’s going to be fine dining inside,” she explained. “We have two dining rooms and a banquet hall.
“We will start organizing weddings again this summer. We had about seven people who contacted us. It was a place to get married years ago. Now subsequent generations want this to be where they got married because their grandparents or parents got married here.
The hotel, filled with stunning antique furniture in good condition, will also reopen.
“We have 13 bedrooms upstairs. They are unique,” she said. “Five of them share a common bathroom. It is therefore a large shower room and a bathroom. The others are connected by a bathroom so there is a bathroom between the two (two bedrooms).
“The mines have already reached out to us.”
The building has also caught the attention of filmmakers.
“A movie was shot here. It’s called My Animal,” she says. “They made several shots in the Timmins area, at Schumacher, a house in Timmins and three series were made here.
“It’s very interesting because film productions are now moving to Ontario.
She also confirms the stories that there are ghosts in the building.
“I call them spirits,” Dubeau said. “They are here. They are friendly and I love them.
While the business is busy, family and community heritage remains the cornerstone of The ‘Port.
“My two parents are buried on the other side of the lake as well as my grandparents. It’s a comfort zone for me,” she said. “We involve our sons. Hopefully one day our granddaughters will get involved.
“Even if you walk away from here, it’s still your home. Even if you despise the snow and the cold, it’s still your home. It’s near and dear to your heart, with childhood memories.
The Airport Hotel is open Sunday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. (depending on the crowd) and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 1 a.m. or 2 a.m.
For more information, call 705-235-3332 or find them on Facebook.