“The McIntyre Hotel circa 1900” is the second limited edition print in artist Jenny Phillips’ new “Elgin County Heritage Collection” and her second major work in watercolours. In January 1993 for health and environmental concerns as well as a desire to meet new challenges, Jenny made the change from painting in oils to watercolours. Her attention to detail and the vibrancy of each new painting wins approval from old and new clients alike.
This is Main Street, Dutton in the early 1900’s with its wooden boardwalk, mud streets and the Old McIntyre Hotel. The McIntyre House Hotel is one of the oldest buildings on Main Street. In 1875 A McMillan built the Dominion House. In 1881 W. Nelson managed the hotel under the name Nelson House and purchased it in 1883. J.H. McIntyre bought the hotel in 1888 and changed the name to the McIntyre House Hotel. The name remains today. There were 26 bedrooms, several sample rooms, a dining room and a livery stable out back. The stables were reached by passing through an archway at the north end of the building. Travelling salesmen set up their wares in the sample rooms at the front of the hotel. The lovely overhanging porch is gone now and the hotel barely resembles the picturesque building of a gentler time. Numerous owners have made their changes and gone on to other things but the memories remain. This is part of our history and heritage of Elgin County.
A Footnote To The Above:
When Dave and I first moved to Dutton in March of 1971 I noticed something curious. Folks would walk down the sidewalk on the hotel side of the street but would cross over just before they reached the hotel itself and they would continue down Main Street and then cross back to the hotel side. I commented on this fact to my neighbor next door who had lived many of her ninety plus years in Dutton. I asked her about the McIntyre. She told me of the excitement of the arrival of Tip Top Tailors in one of the McIntyre’s sample rooms. Notices would go out through local papers and flyers posted on hydro poles and buildings. Mrs. A said, “ the boardwalk was packed two and three abreast for the whole block with young men from as far away as the Zone (Chatham). Young women would go to Hockins and Poole and buy dry goods and embroidery silks. The
goods would be wrapped in brown paper and tied with butchers twine. These slippery little packages had a habit of slipping from one’s fingers. A young woman new how popular she was by the number of young men who would dash across the busy thoroughfare risking life and limb.” She had a pleased expression on her face and seemed to be lost in recalling the days of old. She explained that no woman of character would walk by the hotel because of the unsavory characters that frequented the saloon. The McIntyre held the oldest Saloon license in Ontario and possibly Canada. She told me a young woman’s reputation was easily sullied so the women avoided that section of Main Street and that practice continued into modern day.
Sadly the McIntyre was destroyed by fire in the early part of the twenty-first century. There is a large vacant hole in our downtown core. Only the memories linger.
** Note: Word on the street is that the property has been sold and downtown Dutton will have a new development.