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Le Courant

Automne 2016 | 18

The Queen Hotel

From Rumor to Historical Fact

by: Karl Bourassa

Today I look back over the previous four years since I was first asked to do some research to prove the existence of the Queen's Hotel. This hotel, for a very long time, was suspected of being built behind the Beaulne Museum, a short distance from the railway station. What follows in this report are my search results from archaeological excavations of work done in 2014 and this summer to uncover the remains of this building.

My sources for this project mainly came from notarial deeds and maps. These notarial deeds dealt with the details of selling the property and the land taxes. They were particularly interesting in retracing the history of the hotel. Also, three plans drawn up by the Village of Coaticook were used. The first was a plan designed by Charles Merrill in 1862. The second plan dates to 1878. It was the official plan of the village prepared by the Department of Quebec Crown Lands. The third plan was the Bird's Eye View of Coaticook, P.Q., 1881 done by H. Wellge.

I have cited two other sources who have written on the subject of the Hotel. The first source is from the book, Histoire de Coaticook, 1818-1976 (The History of Coaticook, 1818-1976) by Roch Dandenault in 1976. The only sentence in the book on the subject indicates that the hotel was on Main Street and that it was destroyed by fire. The second mention of the hotel came from the book by Jean-Pierre Kesteman which was published in 2011 and entitled De Barnston a Coaticook, la naissance d'un village industriel en Estrie 1792-1867 (From Barnston to Coaticook, the growth of an industrial village in the Eastern Townships, 1792-1867). Kesteman spoke briefly about the impact of the arrival of the Grand Trunk Railroad which opened in Coaticook in 1853 leading to the expansion of the village. He mentioned that tourists would be attracted to the growing economic importance of Coaticook reinforcing the need for accommodation. In 1867, the village had three hotels: the Coaticook House, which Stephen Davis had just bought from Horace Cutting, the Victoria House and the Queen's Hotel, managed by Thomas Trihey since 1863. A note on the statement indicated that the hotel was situated just to the south of the railway station.

The Geographical Location of the Queen's Hotel.
The preliminary information as written by Kesteman and Dandenault appears to be vague and contradictory. Their work indicates that the hotel was situated just west of the museum, in the wooded section on top of the hill. Kesteman says the hotel was located "immediately to the south of the station" while Dandenault claims the hotel was located on Main Street. Kesteman does not tell us which railway station he was talking about as the present station was not even built in 1863. To untangle this information, it is necessary to research deeper into the notarial records.

Starting with the current lot number of the museum, I went back in time to review owners of the lot to find out that most likely, lot number 100 seemed to have been the place where a hotel had been located. Several sources confirm this assertion. However, nothing concrete yet formally indicates an actual hotel. By contrast, if we continue with the history of Lot 100, we see indeed that this is the hotel in question, as Thomas Trihey mortgaged the property "with a three-story brick hotel thereon erected". Unfortunately, one outstanding problem persists: the name of this hotel is never mentioned in any bill of sale. It is therefore necessary to refer to the annual directories of the time for confirmation. The first mention of the Queen's Hotel can be found in the Eastern Townships Gazetteer and The General Business Directory published in 1867. These directories list Thomas Trihey as the owner of the Queen's Hotel. Several subsequent directories give the same information.

One last question remains: do we truly know the exact location of the Queen's Hotel? The Eastern Townships Directory for 1882 lists the address for this hotel as being on Depot Street (today known as Lovell Street). This information was confirmed by the Bird's Eye View of Coaticook, P.Q. in 1881 which shows a building on the corner of Lark (Norton) and Depot (Lovell), just in front of the railway station. The inscription reads Queen's Hotel (sic).
                  Hôtel Queen



The Chronological Events of the Queen's Hotel.

In regard to the chronology (main events) of the building, our sources have not told us, with any precision, the date of the construction of the building or when the building was demolished. According to Kesteman, the hotel was rented to Thomas Trihey by Henry Richardson in 1863. The property lease states that Trihey was '' hotel keeper'' and the contract was dated December 1, 1863. This contract thus establishes that the building was built by Henry Richardson at an unknown date prior to December 1863 and that it was only after that date that the building became a hotel.

Trihey became the owner of the hotel in 1865 after buying the building for $1250.00. The following year, he acquired an adjacent lot to the south (Lot 101). During the following years Trihey seemed to be undergoing financial difficulties. He took out several mortgages on the two lots. He had to sell Lot 101 in 1868, due to outstanding debt. His wife, Abigail Wheeler, rebought this same lot a year later. Around 1875, Trihey was forced to sell the hotel to Joseph Tibbetts. Without going through the list of all the individual owners, it should be mentioned that Abigail Wheeler became the owner of the hotel for eight years until her death in 1889.

The hotel was most likely destroyed by fire in 1897. We have not been able to give the exact date of this fire, but it seems that it most likely happened between March 4, 1897 and October 14, 1897. A contract signed March 4, 1897 with the notation "with all buildings thereon erecrted'' for the considerable price of $5,500.00 (including other undeveloped lots) leading us to believe that the hotel is still in existence today. On the other hand, we see the sale agreement dated October 14, 1897 comprised of other lots, but the sale price is now $1,000.00 with no specified buildings. Also, Lovell's Business, Professional and Farmer's Directory of the Eastern Townships of 1898 indicated the presence of all the hotels in Coaticook except the Queen's Hotel. Finally, Roch Dandenault in his Histoire de Coaticook (History of Coaticook), indicated that the hotel burned in 1897.

In conclusion, historical sources clearly show the existence and a geographical location relative to the hotel. The archeologic excavation done in 2014 confirms this theory. The foundations of the building show traces of fire proving, that a fire actually took place and the discovery of a very luxurious bathroom in the basement along with several other historical artifacts which have been discovered show that there was, indeed, a hotel in this place.

Le Courant

Le Courant est publié par la Société une fois par année. Membres de la société, historiens professionnels et amateurs partagent avec les lecteurs le fruit de leurs recherches. Les textes sont disponibles en français et en anglais. La publication de cette revue est rendue possible grâce au soutien de commanditaires locaux que nous remercions avec toute notre gratitude.

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Journaux et photos du Progrès de Coaticook depuis 1950 • Collection du Coaticook Observer des années 1928 à 1938. • Collection de l'Etoile de l'Est de 1928 à 1938.

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