Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Simpson Family

The Simpson family could be viewed as one of the oldest families at the Point.  Margaret Simpson (b. 25 Aug 1856 Bocaygeon, Upper Canada) married Eber Hubbard Dunham, a Civil War vetran from Volney, Oswego, NY.  While Eber's father had been a farmer, Margaret's father was a hotel keeper. Eber's purchase of the Sturgeon Point Hotel was the first of eight known hotels he had bought.

Dunham would purchase The Sturgeon Point Hotel from George Crandell in 1883.  That same year, they bought the 12 acres next  door to the hotel and built a cottage called "Oak Grove".
By 1900, Dunham had built an empire of hotels and was focused on his hotels in Montreal. He sold the cottage to John MacDonald, the railway contractor and business partner of William MacKenzie of Kirkfield, and the hotel block to his brother-in-law and former hotel manager, William Simpson. 

While Eber and Margaret were building hotels along Lake Ontario and  in Montreal, her brother William was managing the Sturgeon Point Hotel for them, as he had for George Crandell prior. 

According to Fenelon Falls business historian Randall Speller:
Wm. H. Simpson of Bobcaygeon took over the lease of the Mansion House Hotel on August 23, 1882, after Nobel Ingram left for the McArthur House.  According to the Gazette Simpson was well and favourably known to almost everybody in this section [FFG 1 Sept 1882; 2].  He immediately purchased all new furniture for the hotel and cleaned it from top to bottom.  The hotel quickly became known locally as the Simpson House.  He sold his lease to Jackson Read in August 1884.  [CP 12 May 1893: 7]

From September 1894 through until his death on August 15, 1912, William Simpson was also the Post Master for the Village.  He was succeeded by his son Arthur George Simpson, who held the post until he resigned on 21 September 1921.

William Simpson had sold the hotel property and Dunham had Oak Grove to John MacDonald, the railway magnate and business partner of William MacKenzie of Kirkfield, in 1900.  So we are now working to identify where the Simpson cottage was as it was also the Village's second post office.  If you have any suggestions, please let us know.

I would also like to draw your attention to the pictures of Eber and Margaret.  They are from the Notman Collection at the McCord Museum in Montreal.  This is an excellent archive and an amazing resource.  If you have a few minutes, go on line to: and look through the collection.

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