Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Former MacWilliams Hotel, O'Leary

     The other day I was in O'Leary and stopped to take a few photos of this old house on Main Street.  
     This was the home of the Pate sisters ( L.A.W. Norma June; Marcia, high school teacher; and C.W.A.C. Patricia Joan - all three were veterans of WWII ).  Norma Pate was the last to live here - she died a year ago (see Obituary below).  Last summer the contents were sold at auction.  Word around town is the house will be torn down when the estate is settled.
    The following information about this house comes from, "Threads of our Past: History of O'Leary, 1837-1992"  pages 52-53.
     "In 1915 Percy Turner had a home built to his specifications by Harry Williams who constructed a very fine house in O'Leary.  In 1917, Percy Turner sold his house to James Malcolm MacWilliams and moved to Charlottetown.  Later in Life, Mr. Turner became involved in civic politics and became mayor of Charlottetown for a short term.
    In 1935, Lulu MacWilliams, wife of James Malcolm MacWilliams, decided to venture into the motel business.  Because the MacWilliams house was so large, it easily served the needs of home and hotel.  The clientele consisted of commercial travelers who stayed only 2 or 3 nights.  The hotel could accommodate eight to ten people and would be completely filled by the first part of the week.  The hotel was comfortable, well furnished and had a pleasing atmosphere.  Guest would hurry off from the train at night to be sure to get a room here before it filled up.
    The hotel operated for 12 year until 1947  when it was sold to Jean Pate and her family."
     This magnificent house was built by Henry Wellington "Little Harry" Williams (1866-1934) - he was one of the best carpenters in Prince County in the 1890's and early 1900's.  
     "Little Harry was born in Poplar Grave, P.E.I. - he came from a family of distinguished master carpenters and shipbuilders.  His grandfather, Edward William, was a ship carpenter at the Port Hill shipyards and his maternal Ellis relatives were long involved with shipbuilding in England and in Port Hill.  Little Harry apprenticed under builder George Gard of Alberton before moving to Massachusetts where he worked and studied architectural design.  He married married Effie Ellis (1870-1957) of Conneticutt in 1893.  They later returned to Prince Edward Island and built many impressive buildings in Western P.E.I." cf.
     To see more of Little Harry's work see a previous entry in this blog...
     My Great-Aunt Orilla MacNevin (1915-2001) worked here as a maid in the late 1930's.
Norma Pate
Born: Boston on June 24th, 1925  Passed on: February 27th, 2013
At the Palliative Care Unit of Community Hospital, O'Leary, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, of Norma June Pate, O'Leary, aged 87, veteran of World War, having served in the RCAF (WD), both in Canada and England. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, June 24, 1925, daughter of the late Peter and Jean (Parsons) Pate. Norma is survived by her brother Peter (Marion) Pate, Ottawa, ON., and sister Betty Pepich, Chicago, Illinois. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.  Predeceased by her parents, sisters Marcia and Patricia and brother-in-law Eugene Pepich. Resting at the Ferguson Funeral Home and Chapel, O'Leary, with visiting hours Saturday, March 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. Funeral service Sunday, March 3, at 2 p.m. in the chapel. Comrades of O'Leary Royal Canadian Legion will hold a service of remembrance for their late comrade Saturday evening before visitation at 5:45 p.m. Interment to follow at a later date in the Bloomfield United Church Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials, in memory of Norma, to the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) would be appreciated.

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