The venerated Tote Hotel.
It is said that in the early days of settlement the nascent city of Collingwood had one church, one mill, one bridge and fourteen hotels. We don't know how a vulnerable community would have survived with such a ratio but we suspect the church must have been very free with the sacramental wine.
We haven't been able to track down the first hotel on the site, it's lost in the mists of beer fumes. A dairy covered the area for many years but there was a pub called 'Healys' here in the early 1870's. By 1876 The Ivanhoe Hotel was up and running and would stay that way until the name change to The Tote in the early 80's (1980's that is).
The present building seems to have been built in 1911, we've never found any evidence of the original buildings because we've been waiting on a Government grant before starting excavations.
John Wren's original Totaliser, an illegal betting shop, operated at 136 Johnston Street. The numbering of the street seems to have changed so if anyone knows exactly which shop it was then please let us know. The original Tote operated between 1893 and 1905 and was made famous (in fictionalised form) in Frank Hardy's novel 'Power Without Glory' (1950). As far as we know they never served alcohol or had any bands play.
The connections between The Tote (the hotel) and The Tote (the betting shop) are at best murky and at worst down right fraudulent. There are persistent rumours of tunnels running from the cellar of the current Tote under Johnston and Wellington Streets to shops opposite. These are supposed to have facilitated get-aways for the bookies who used to operate from the pub. If you've ever been in the old cellar of the Tote (whose entrance is guarded by our world famous Jukebox) then you'd know why we haven't been too enthusiastic about investigating the truth of these rumours.
Spend much time at the Tote and you'll eventually encounter the ghost of the Tote. Not a scary ghost, nor a particularly friendly ghost, this fleeting apparition seems to inhabit the landing of the stairs (beneath our large 'Cobra Woman' banner) and always seems to be making their way upstairs. Perhaps it's a lost punter looking for the toilets, or a faded rock god who's demise no-one noticed, but we prefer the story that involves Squizzy Tailor, a rowdy new year's eve and an uncooperative publican.