Our Inn team collectively feels this is going to be a great year! How about you?
The Water Tower Inn has been a pillar of the Sault Ste. Marie community for over 45 years. Our mere existence has watched the corner of Second Line and Great Northern Rd change from fields with a tiny dilapidated drive through to our large hotel and dining and event facility, surrounded by the city’s most robust commercial area.
Our Proprietor, JJ Hilsinger, knew nothing of hotels when he built The Water Tower Inn. He, however, possessed an unbridled passion for hospitality and for Sault Ste. Marie. After all, JJ decided to move to the Sault in 1961 because “it was the most beautiful place he’d ever seen”.
By the time The Water Tower Inn was built, the Sault community was familiar with the mind of this unconventional man – he’d built a name for himself over the previous decade with five KFC stores, locally referred to to this day as “JJ’s Chicken”.
JJ has never shied away from controversy, whether popular or not. He has been a staunch proponent of the city and its tourism community since his arrival. He spearheaded Hospitality, Attractions and Tourism Sault (HATS), the precursor to Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. He sat on numerous boards and committees, the majority of which were committed to tourism and community endeavours such as the “Take a Stake in SAH” new hospital fundraising campaign. As JJ sees it, a beautiful city that promotes a great lifestyle for its residents, attracts tourists, and therefore fuels the local economy.
In 2003, JJ penned a series of short articles named “Vision 20/20”. He envisioned a group of diverse community-based committees working together to develop and execute a visionary plan for Sault Ste. Marie based on a set of Community Shared Values and Beliefs. The articles were published in the Sault Star and also hosted on a dedicated website.
Now, almost 20 years later, on the birth of the year JJ anticipating seeing Sault Ste. Marie named “Canada’s Family City”, we share the introduction and first article in the series. Throughout the year, we will progressively share more. Some things have changed since the articles were first published, many have not.
So, in The Water Tower Inn’s inaugural blog post, where we’ll explore our history, our stories and the community that’s shaped us, we ask you: “Is 2020 the birth of clearer vision in Sault Ste. Marie?
Read Vision 2020, Excerpt 1