33 Forsyth Street - St. James Hotel


The St James Hotel,  on the North west corner of Highway 7 and Cty Rd 14,   is believed to have been built as a hotel in 1840.  In an advertisement in the Toronto Globe, datd 1840 and reprinted on  Sept. 24, 1856,  the premises is described in the most favourable way:



Edward Farewell was one of the first proprietors of the hotel,  as was Mr. Hugh Jones (1845-1912),  who with his wife,   Augusta Hagerman (1855-1945), obtained a liquor licence for the St. James Hotel.   Thomas  Patrick Hogan  (1875-1969)  operated the business from 1901-1903.  We know,  too,  that John Quinn  (1861-1946)   was in charge in 1908 with his wife, Mary Ellen O'Sullivan (1861-1940),  hiring George Wellman (1859-1944) and his wife,  Sarah Reid (1864-1946) as the managers.  In 1909 George Wellman purchased the hotel. 


By 1914,  our business section was booming,  The hotel prospered during the early days with many important guests traveling to Marmora, some interested in our early mining and lumbering enterprises and others selling their wares.  This is not to say that everything was perfect.  Indeed,  the Marmora Herald of April 30, 1914,  had to concede that the St. James Hotel,  at the corner of Forsyth Street and Highway #7,  was in a pretty sorry state.

 "Another outbreak has occured  at the St. James Hotel last Saturday afternoon   with  all kinds of fighting and general rough house.  Many citizens  are congratulating themselves that the present management will only last a little over a month.  The times seem to have arrived   at last  when citizens of the village will no longer quietly submit to conditions as they have existed at the St. James Hotel for the past 2 or 3 years, "

The people signed a petition against the renewal of its liquor license and practically stormed the hearing called for its consideration. 

"Conditions are getting steadily worse at the St. James Hotel.  No one will stop there who can possibly help it.   One traveler said last week,  'I have been all over the province and have stopped in all kinds of hotels,  but that is the worst I ever saw or hear of!'  "

The  petition to close the St. James was given to Constable Gillen.  The constable claimed that he turned it over to the liquor inspector,  who said he never got it.  The newspaper editor said it was a farce.  "Some day there must be a change,  and soon too,  if the good name of the village is to be regained".

The land on which this building sits, formerly known as the St. James Hotel,   was purchased from the Cobourg, Peterborough and Marmora Railway Company in 1866.  Like many buildings in Marmora, the stone was quarried and drawn by horse from the west bank of the Crowe River.  it is believed that Thomas Jackson,  known to have a drink or two,  was the stone mason,  which could explain some of the angles of the walls of the building!




Thomas Potts (1871-1952) and his wife,  Ada Walker (1871-1963) operted the hotel  from 1916 to 1925 when he moved over to the Royal Hotel for another nine years of service.  During that time, in 1919,  they enlarged the dining room to twice the size.  Luckily for Potts,  the Temperance vote failed in Marmora in April of 1921,  and he was able to carry on making a profit off alcohol.

Several businesses have moved into the hotel over the years.  The buildings was divided in 1929 when a Chinese restaurant,  known as the Glossy Cafe,  was established by Lem Lung.  This lasted until the fire in 1946.  According to one report,  the Glossy cafe relocated behind the Memorial Building in 1951.  At the same time,  John Silas (Joker) Jones and Clayton Carman (Jimmy)  Potts (1907-1963)  in partnership in  hardware,   moved their business   from across the street. They dissolved their partnership in January of 1956.

The old concrete barn to the rear was used as a barn to stable the horses belonging to the guests of the hotel. In the 1930's when the rock cut was being constructed, putting Marmora on the Trans Canada Highway, the horses that were used to haul the stone were stabled in this building. In 1938,  it was converted into an auto mechanics garage by Mr. McElwaine,  who had lost his garage behind the Memorial Building to fire.

Shoes and Boots by Wellington B. Wilde

The hotel suffered three fires in all - One in 1905,  one on Sept 28, 1946,  a gas explosion in the kitchen of Lem Lung's Glossy cafe which caused extensive damage to the building & stock of neighbouring Mr. Aunger's store,  and then again on Jan 24, 1952, when the third floor and peaked roof were destroyed.  George Aunger, David and Rosa King, Cecil and Theresa Bell were tenants living in the apartments above the St. James at this time. The owner at this time was Mr. Hugh Jones.  William Bonter Sr.  once related that on one occasion during Mr. Jone's ownership,  there were five fights going on during a time the log drivers were in town.  It seems there was a lot of action there during the lumbering days. (At one point,  this property was leased to George Wellman.)

Big Fire in Marmora                

  October 12, 1905
Marmora was visited by another disastrous fire. It started at three o'clock this morning in the St. James hotel sheds, burning the new cement stables and drive sheds. Mr. Hugh Warren's blacksmith shop, Wiggins & Gray's barn, sheds and storehouse, and Dr. W. G. MacKechnie's barn were also lost. J.W.Pearce's storehouse and barn, Mrs. G. W. Bleecker's residence, Mrs. Geo. Bleecker's residence, Gladney & McDonnell's store, Dr. Jones' residence, Mrs. Wilkenson's residence, B. McCoy's residence and the Pearce lumber yards were all on fire, but were put out before doing much damage.
There was a high wind blowing. Rain started to come down quite heavily, and, no doubt, this saved the town from being a total ash heap this morning, as there is no fire protection of any kind in Marmora.
North Hastings Review

Third Fire   Jan 24, 1952          Former St. James Hotel Burns

Marmora Herald
"The heaviest loss in Marmora in many years was suffered this morning when the old St. James Hotel on the corner at Forsythe street and No. 7 Highway was destroyed by fire. The building was occupied on the ground floor by W. B. Wilde, boot and shoe dealer and repairer and issuer of motor licenses; Jones and Potts Hardware store and Josephine's Beauty Salon.

On the second floor Mr. and Mrs. Damon King, Mr. and Mrs. Cecll Bell and Mr. George Aunger had llving apartments. The cause or the fire is not known, but shortly before 6 A. M. George Aunger was roused by the smell of smoke and on opening his door found the upstairs full of smoke and fire. He grabbed his clothes and rushed to his store where he dressed.

An alarm was sounded and Roy Moss and Joe Murray roused Mr. and Mrs. King. Joe Murray picked Mrs. King up and carried her to Dunlay and Murray's store, where she was joined by her husband. They later went to Mrs.  Seymour Henry's residence.  Mr. and Mrs. Bell were away from home. The fire was not a spectacular one, as very little blaze was seen, but it was one or the most stubborn fires ever to occur in the village.

In spite of the efforts of the local firemen,  the fire spread in the framework and partitions of the building and it seemed impossible to extinguish it. The heavy timbers used when it was built burned for a long while. Belleville fire chief, Gerald Vance, and a. number of men with a pumper came to the assistance of the local firemen and four streams of water were poured into the building for several hours. Everything upstairs was destroyed by the fire and water.   In the hardware much, if not all the stock, will be a loss. Considerable of the stock was carried from Wllde's Boot and Shoe store, but its loss will also be quite heavy.

Miss Josephine Kouri was able to save most of her equipment and the balance is covered by insurance. It will take some time to determine the total loss, but estimates vary all the way from $60,000 to double that amount. The loss of a place to do business will be a serious matter. "

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                   AFTER THE FIRES

Eventually,  in 1956,    Harold Nayler (1896-1976)  and Ralph Neal (1904-1991) took possession and operated the location as a hardware store in partnership,  until 1969,  when Mr. Nayler retired.  Shortly thereafter,   Carlie and Sheila Petherick purchased the business.  The north end of the building at that time was the location of Arnold (Sally)  Jones'  Barber shop and Simpson Sears.  (See Sears sign and barber's pole in photo below)  Now it stands as a supplier of auto parts.


Carly Petherick 1977

Isabel Nayler & husband, Ruth & Frank Hulsman, Harold & Mabel Nayler, Bill Nayler,

Ralph Neal

In 1984,  the hardware changed hands again,  being bought by Michael Vilneff,  who then sold to the present owners,  Havelock Auto Parts (Carquest Auto Parts Inc)   some time in November of 1993.  In 2017 this company reroofed the building changing the look of the front once again with a slanted roof type.

Charlse Dunlay