13 Forsyth Street - “The Spencer Block”


Coloured photo supplied by Brock Kirby

George W. Bleecker and his wife Sarah M. Johns had a family of ten children. They built or renovated three residential homes on Forsyth Street during the years 1857, 1868 and 1875.  It is thought that the first home they purchased in 1857 was in the right location on Forsyth Street for his entrepreneurial dreams but was too small (formerly Charles Hayes log house) and in need of major renovations.

By 1868, George and Sarah already had five children so they built a very large two storey red brick home at 3 Forsyth. By 1875, George was planning a future for his older boys in the retail business.  Sons, Charles A. Bleecker, George B. Bleecker and William F. Bleecker would carry on the family business at the newly built general store and tailoring business at 13 Forsyth Street,  known as the Spencer Block after the builder.  It was a two storey brick building with a verandah.

On May 16, 1905, Josiah W. Pearce's general store, located in the Arcade Block on Main Street, burnt to the ground. In March 1907, Josiah W. Pearce went into partnership with Frank N. Marett.  At the same time, they moved their business into the Bleecker building,  where Fred Lees was running a harness business.   They enlarged the building by about 30 feet.  It was 1908 when Frank Newton Marett (1877-1936)  married Jane Almira Pearce (1881-1974) 1911 brought electricity to the store.

In March, 1916, the Marett and Pearce Company left the Bleecker building on the west side of Forsyth and moved into Baldwin C. Hubbell's building on the east side of Forsyth Street. 

In 1916,  Walter D. Donnelly moved into the building recently vacated by the Marett and Pearce Co. at 13 Forsyth |St.    Walter operated a barber shop and pool room on the main floor and lived upstairs until he turned the second floor into a bowling alley in January 1920.

By 1932, Clifford E.Jones and his wife Myrtle Rose moved into the Bleecker building. It was here that Mr. Donnelly  operated a barber shop,  restaurant and pool room in the northern half of the store.  He also allowed the village to build a public skating rink in the back yard.  Previous to this time the rink had been down by the river where the baseball diamond is now situated.

He leased the southern half to William J. Doughtery, who was an agent for men's  clothing  line and a dry cleaning company.

Clifford and Myrtle Jones moved across the street to the Daniel Shannon building in March 1941.

In March 1946, Frederick R. Wells purchased the Bleecker building which, at the time, was occupied by Frederick T. Lee and his wife Frances E. Shaw.


In May, 1950, Basil Borden  McTaggart (1912-1994) and his wife Blanche Labossiere  (1915-2005) purchased the Bleecker building that had been built by Wilfred Spencer. Basil opened a hardware and radio appliance store. The hardware store would later become a small Canadian Tire Store.  In 1951,  an addition was added to the building.

Celia Murray wrote:   And there was a tailor shop upstairs over the Bleecker Bros store.

Pamela Phillips  added:   In the 1950's this was a hardware store and George and Ivy Mantle and family lived in the apartment above. That was before the fire that burned Richard's restaurant (which joined that building to the theatre) see empty lot.

Embers Restaurant

Embers Restaurant

In 1964,  fire broke out next door (15 Forysth - Richard's restaurant,  and damaged the apartments upstairs in 13 Forsyth. Living  in the upper apartments  were: Thomas and Archie Wong, George Mah, Robert King (1890- 1974) and his wife Mary Switzer (1915-2003) and their daughter, Mrs. Seymour Henry/ nee Christine McCormack (1895- 1969) and her son, Ronald Henry. Tenants in the lower rear apartment were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Baker.

Bill McKenzie

On April 15, 1965, Bill and Jean McKenzie would convert the main floor of the McTaggart Hardware store into a restaurant which they called 'The Embers'. Interviewed by the Herald on April 16, 1980,  Bill said 'When we first came to Marmora in 1965,  there were only  three places you could get a coffee.  Now there are thirteen!' 

For the next 50 years the original Bleecker building would remain a restaurant operated as the 'Coachlight", owned and operated by Annette Taylor(opened on June 30, 1981). Along with her sister,  Ruth Potts,  had run the well-liked restaurant known as Annie's,  in Stirling.  Together,  along with the pastry cook from Annie's,  they ran the Coachlight.

It remained 'The Coachlight',   but later  owned and operated by Al and Carolyn Fluke,  and then  by George and Barbara Smith (opened on June 15, 1991) With extensive renovation,  and a name  change  to   'Carriage House',  Julie and Lori Maynes  purchased  the premises and opened  the restaurant again, in April 2003,  and then  we saw the 'The Doo Wop Diner' leased and    operated by Cathie Jones in 2005,  with a 1950-1960's ambiance.  The menu reflected the theme,  with such items as "Tuna Turner Sandwich" ,  "Fats Domino Brownie",  "For Goodness Steak" and "Love me Tender Chicken Breasts".

 Lastly,  with extensive renovations,   the building  opened as the 'Black Rose Restaurant and Pub',   owned and operated by John Puckett and closed in 2009.  The Old Bleecker building  had structural damage and in 2016 was torn down by the purchaser,  Jim Perkins.

Up the side of embers restaurant Bill McKenzie and Sherrie Provost

        Nov. 22, 2014   Comments sent:

  • Julie Mckenzie-Post: Waited on my 1st table at 10 years old,

  • Margie Royle: Fries and gravy with an orange pop, all for 30 cents! Best way to start a Friday night beforegoing to the movies.

  • Mike March: Yes fries and gravy and the banquet burger were the best and the little juke boxes at each booth, good old days for sure

  • Wendy Kennedy: Best fries and gravy ever!

  • Mike Empey It was the coach light that I remember there

  • John E Hutchings: Gena and my first apt was overtop that place

  • Patti Shaughnessy : my after school hangout.

2013 Comments sent:

  • Glenn Cousineau: I remember Bill used to give us 10cents to put in the old juke box at the restaurant

  • Celia Murray: I worked for Bill and Jean at the Embers....great people!

  • Patricia O'Brien: I used to "pretend weigh" myself on that scale waiting for my mom to come out of the drugstore.

1995 - The Coachlight Restaurant

Photo by Jeanette Seabourne

Video by Doug Prindle. July, 2016 - Coming up:  A new development by Fairtradeworks Marmora


Jim Crowells: These were on the tables!

Margie Royle Oh goodness! I didn't know this was slated to happen! A lot of memories for sure! An order of fries and a small drink for a quarter .... for an extra nickel, you could top those fries with gravy! Is a new building planned?    (Marmora Historical Foundation yes...ten apartments...indeed it was sad to see it go...lots of memories and stories were shared tonite on front street.)

Julie Mckenzie-Post Sad to see it go. Lived upstairs for 2 years and downstairs for 6. Grew up waiting tables. Have a lot of great memories. Time to rebuild downtown Marmora

Mike March It sure was a great restaurant when the Mackenzie's owned it      


John Hutchings:   My  wife & I started living together in an apt above that restaurant when Mackenzies had it.  

Jim Crowells:  The Potters lived above the restaurant as well.  Steven, Kevin, Malcolm and the girls Janice and Joanne.     

Kevin Potter Jim ,great recall on our names, we did live in the apt at the front in the early 70s. From our window we could see Saturday night action at the Royal Hotel, see who was coming and going from pool hall & who was hanging out on Loveless's vegetable stand.

Pamela Armstrong Kevin Potter Kevin you may not remember me but my Mom and Dad (Tom and Dot) were great friends of Sid and Joan. Janice was flower girl at our wedding 48 years ago. Was wondering where she is today? So surprised to see your name pop up on here.

Janice Porter Hello Pamela..just by chance scrolling though the website to see if I recognize anyones name..I do remember being your flower girl, I still had the basket (flowers were in) up to a few years ago if you can believe that!!

Laurie Hainle That building has a lot of history -  so sad

Irene Clemens:  I worked there for Bill and Jean McKenzie.  

 Celia Murray Me too!                                      

 Margaret Miller Patty it's Margie Maloney...I remember when you worked at the restaurant & there was a ball tournament ...you asked the boys if they would like soup or juice & from then on they called you "Superjuice"!!it was so funny!!        

Dallas Maddocks Wow, tons of memories for sure.Susan and I were the first waitresses they hired. We were 14 at the time.....


Wayne VanVolkenburg I remember when Brian Ellis? brought the young skunk into the restaurant. He thought that it was too young to spray. Not so! When Bill and Jean opened the restaurant, they had help from Jack?(school teacher) and his wife. I thought that they were partners in the business?

Marmora Historical Foundation I think you are correct and they were Jack & Jean Murphy

Kathleen Comer I remember it as the coach light restaurant when I was living int he apartment above with my folks.

Patty Gallinger spent many hours there making my fortune, starting @ 90 cents an hour Great memories Rick, Morag, Judy ..................

Glenn Mawer School kids all hung out there during the week waiting for the show to start

Louise McCoy: Mine and Wendell's first home In the front apartment

Jean David: I lived above this restaurant


Margie Royle Oh yes! A plate of fries and an Orange Crush for a quarter! For an extra nickel, you could smother those fries in gravy!

Patricia O'Brien The best fries and gravy anywhere!!!!

Sharon Anne Vesterfelt Hey Doreen Swanton, here's where we met!!!! Great fries...great music..

Kim Meredith Remember the juke boxes at the tables?

Thomas Empey Had some great times with Bill and Jean and the family

Deanna Peacock Miss it all juke box food and friends

Shelley Watson: My first waitress job, my mom worked there too, loved it

Terry Brown: Bring back the good old days.