The Bowser House

In 1833 entrepreneur Joseph Cunard, in his usual style, married Mary Peters of "Bushville", and the same year he bought from Patrick Henderson a house which had been built for Dr. Alexander Key. He remodelled the house to include a ballroom on the second floor. The estate ran all the way from Water Street to Duke Street. The mansion was beautifully landscaped and peacocks strutted on the spacious grounds.

The Cunard business failed in 1847 and Joseph Cunard, his wife and two sons, by 1850, had settled in England.

In 1853 Henry Bowser of Kent County leased the Cunard home and operated it as a hotel. He bought the property in 1864. Mrs. Kate Bowser continued to operate the hotel after the death of her husband. In 1869 she built an ell onto the building to include a new kitchen, sleeping quarters and store room. When she died in 1887 the business was carried on by the Misses Bowser. This hotel was for many years the best on the north shore of the province.

In 1903 Thomas Flanagan purchased the Bowser House. The local paper reported that "the price is said to be $8,500. The Misses Bowser will close the house on June 30th. Mr. Flanagan will take over the property the middle of July. The furniture will be sold at auction."

Sometime after this the property came into the hands of W. S. Loggie. He moved the small summer house to his own home on Wellington Street where it remains to this day, now part of the W. S. Loggie Cultural Centre.

The W. S. Loggie Company used the Bowser House for storage and at the time it burned in 1957 it was being used as a warehouse. This was the end of one of Chatham's finest homes.

Miramichi Hotels Of The Early 1800's

In the early part of the 19th century the hotels were an integral part of the transportation system. James W. Kelly, for example, ran a stage between Chatham and Fredericton in 1839, leaving John Hea's Hotel in Chatham each Monday at 6 a.m. crossing at Rainnie's ferry and arriving at Douglastown at 7. He continued on to Newcastle, stopping at Hugh Hamill's Hotel on King's Highway (where the Telephone Company building is now) and finally arriving in Fredericton the next day at 4 p.m. Probably the passengers spent the night in the Doaktown area. The two earliest tavern and stage stops were in Nelson, Nelson's Hollow, presently the home of Perley Lyons and DeCantillons in Blissfield, now the home of Stewart Walls.

John Hea's Hotel

John Hea immigrated to Chatham from Ireland in 1823. In 1832 he fitted up his house as a hotel. It was next to the hotel of James White and nearly opposite the Royal Hotel, formerly called the King's Arms Hotel. Closed in 1856, it was later operated by Edward Keary. The hotel burned in 1865.

Mr. Hea was largely involved in the fighting election of 1843 and wrote lengthy commentaries on the incidents in the Gleaner of the day. (His son, Joseph R. Hea, was the first president of U.N.B.).

James White's Hotel

James White opened White's Hotel about 1820. Leased in 1839 by Alexander McBeath it was described as a two-storey building, having had a new wing added in 1836. Two barns in connection with the hotel had room for 20 horses. He ran a semi-weekly stage coach between Miramichi, Dorchester and Bathurst.

Alexander McBeath had previously operated a hotel at Black River which he turned over to his brother Donald to come to Chatham to take over White's Hotel.

King's Arms Hotel

Robert Martin of London, England purchased the King's Arms Hotel from George Johnston about 1826. It was in this hotel that the portrait of Francis Peabody, Founder of Chatham, was hung. (The portrait, painted in 1837 by Albert G. Hoit of Boston, has now been restored and hangs in the W. S. Loggie Cultural Centre.)

Later the King's Arms was renamed the Royal Hotel and was run by Mrs. Robert Martin.

In 1844 it was owned by George Layton and sometimes called Layton's Hotel. Subsequent owners were Caleb McCully and J. R. Layton.

Other hotels in operation in Chatham were the Globe Hotel (1857), Revere House (1884) and Chatham Hotel, which was formerly George Johnston's Hotel. It was taken over by James F. Blanchard in 1839 and a new wing added. Brunswick House and the Central were two more recent hotels.

Several inns were also operating. William Mills and Peter Moar were both prominent inn-keepers of the mid 1800's, and William Rafter operated an inn from about 1826-1834.

The Union Hotel was located between Wentworth and Cunard Streets, on the south side of Water Street. It was operated by Dougald McLean in 1865. Badly damaged by fire in the spring of 1870, the business, then called the Dominion House, moved to the Hawbolt house opposite the ferry landing.

The town of Chatham now has one motel, the Morada located on King Street. It is difficult to visualize the great number of hotels and inns in operation in the last century.

(Acknowledgements: James Fraser (By Favourable Winds), Charles Whitty, Bill McKinnon, Mrs. E. F. MacAllister and Pat Duffy).

(Northumberland News, June 17, 1981)

Copyright © Lois F. Martin, 1985. All rights reserved.