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The History of The Cellar at Mohawk College

Updated: Mar 5, 2020

The Cellar restaurant has been a staple of Mohawk College’s Fennell campus for many years now. And when students walk into The Cellar they may see it for what it is – a campus restaurant that serves up delicious food and beverages. What they may not know, however, is that the establishment is also chock-full of history.

The Cellar is a popular lunch spot at Mohawk College's Fennell campus.

According to Mohawk College’s Student Lifecycle Communications department, the Fennell campus was built on farmland that the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital – the Hamilton Asylum for the Insane – once owned. And, as noted in a 2002 City of Hamilton meeting report, in 1891 a root cellar – a structure, usually underground, used to store food - was constructed for the asylum.

This is the current logo for The Cellar.

Years later, according to the report, in 1968, the Mohawk Students’ Association – MSA – discovered the root cellar when the construction of the first Fennell Campus building was taking place.

Fun Fact: The Root Cellar that was discovered now makes up the core, according to the college, of what The Arnie is today.

The Naming History - The Arnie

Another few years later, according to Mohawk College The Years to 1985 by S. Patricia Filer, in 1973 the Arnold Centre was planned – a multi-purpose facility that would consist of meeting rooms, recreation space, and a pub. The centre was planned to be located in the former root cellar. This centre, as noted, would be funded by student activity fees and the Province. It was named after Albert Arnold – a 1963 graduate of the college, gold medalist, President of the Student’s Administrative Council, and President of the Mohawk College Alumni Association. Arnold also taught in the Department of Industrial Management.

Then, over ten years later, in 1985/1986, the root cellar pub was connected to a new Student Centre that was constructed, as noted in the report. Once the larger pub in the Student Centre – The Arnie – opened, the original pub closed.

Did You Know The Cellar/Arnie was a Study Hall, Office Space, and Pub/Restaurant ?

According to the report, for roughly six years, the root cellar space was used as a study hall, and later offices. However, it was turned back into a pub/restaurant by popular demand. The Cellar officially re-opened in 1992.

Fun Fact: Did you know that The Cellar is the oldest building at Mohawk's Fennell campus?

The Arnie's Million Dollar Makeover

So, it’s safe to say that over the years, The Cellar as we now know it has seen numerous changes. Similarly, The Arnie has also seen many changes over the years. According to the college, in the summer of 2011, The Arnie underwent a $1-million makeover. It was through this makeover that The Arnie came to be what it is today.

The Arnie is a popular space where students eat, study, and hangout. It is also where many MSA events, such as concerts, are held.

Recent History of The Cellar

Another several years later, in 2018, The Cellar made some changes to its beverage menu. According to an Ignite News article by Matthew P. Barker, The Cellar changed how it would be serving alcohol. A new selection of beer was introduced at the start of the year. The Cellar started focusing more on craft beer, according to Barker, to discourage binge drinking. Craft beer was something that was not previously available at The Cellar, but the introduction of it was well received. Despite the prices being higher, sales did increased.

It is safe to say that The Cellar has changed quite a bit since 1973. Today, it is a place where students can eat, relax and connect in between or after classes. Some popular current menu items at The Cellar include: nachos, boneless wings, garlic and cheese flatbread, dill pickle spears, bacon mac and cheese, burgers, sandwiches, and wraps.

Have you visited The Cellar yet this year?

The doors leading into The Cellar.

Click here for the MSA’s previous blog post.

Written by: Paige Petrovsky

Student Copywriter

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