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Address: 6594 Fourth Line [Main Street]
The Bide-a-wee

Location: Not on file

Date and Fabric: late 19th century three storey brick hotel

Known Owners:

James Johnston [lot only] - 1886
James Leach  1886 - 1888
George Ferguson 1888 - 1907
Joseph McCurdy connection 1907 - 1948
William Ashwood 1948 - 1958
Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Hodges 1958 - 1963
Fred and Lorraine Hodges 1963 - 1976
Ted Ladelpha and Michael O'Connor 1976 - ?
Sam Ghattas current [1986]

photograph 1997

Photos also on file from 1986, 1980, undated probably about 1980, and from early in the century; also rear view with very old car - 1911 ?

See also architectural summary on the file.

This large brick structure was once one of North Gower's most prominent hotels. It still serves as a village focal point today [1986], housing the community's only restaurant, the Bide-a-wee. The building's precise origins are unclear. In 1886 James Johnston sold the property to James Leach who sold to George Ferguson in 1888. In 1907 Joseph McCurdy bought the property from George Ferguson for $6,750, and the building was then probably about ten years old.

On the evening of Saturday, November 18th, 1893 a hotel belonging to Mr. Elliot but run by William Gault [The Gault House] was destroyed by fire 42. It has been suggested that Gault's hotel was the direct predecessor of the McCurdy Hotel, but it seems more likely that the Ferguson Hotel, which apparently burnt in September 1895, along with the Hiram Scott House [6599 Main Street, q.v.], was the building that the McCurdy Hotel replaced.

By 1907 Joseph McCurdy, a former blacksmith, his wife Emma and their three children were in residence and operating the building as a hotel and boarding house. Fourteen rooms were available, and a few of these were reserved for overnight guests who were travelling the Rideau River. Coach driver Alec Haggins would stop at Kars wharf enroute back from collecting the mail from the railway at Osgoode, to pick up guests who would be brought back to Kars the next morning for the next boat. The hotel also had a large dining room, a tavern [closed in 1916 under prohibition, resulting in a considerable loss of revenue] and a sample room. The sample room was in a white frame building behind the hotel and was used by travelling salesmen to display their wares. In 1911, the McCurdys acquired North Gower's first automobile.

In 1929, Joseph McCurdy died but his wife, together with son Earl and daughter Viola, continued the McCurdy management. In the same year the Bide-a-wee snack bar was opened, apparently in a separate stand fronting on Main Street. An open air dance platform [later roofed] started on what is currently [1986] the parking lot, but it was forced to close down before long as a result of competition from a neighboring dance hall in Osgoode. 43 In 1954, Horace Seabrook [see 2407 Roger Stevens Drive] moved this dance platform across the fields and incorporated it into the house that he was building on the foundations of a former cheese factory at 2357 Roger Stevens Drive q.v.

After Emma's death in 1937, her son Cecil and his wife Gladys took over the establishment. In 1945 the McCurdy House signed a lease with Bell Telephone for the telephone exchange, to allow the latter the use of one room in the building for three years at $420 a year. In about 1951 Grace Wallace moved her beauty salon from across the street at the old Post Office 44 into the hotel. She had two rooms on the second floor at the head of the stairs above the kitchen. In 1948 the roof of the building was damaged in the February fire that destroyed five buildings at the intersection of Main Street and Roger Stevens Drive. Later that year the McCurdys sold the building to William Ashwood.

The premises then became known as the Ashwood House, a temperance hotel and restaurant. 45 In 1958, Ashwood sold to Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Hodges who kept a boarding house for a further six months and a dining room for five years. In 1960, health regulations and a township by-law forced them to move the snack bar back from the road to alongside the main building, where it is now [1990]. At the same time, Grace Wallace moved her salon to 6606 Main Street, q.v.

The hotel had been built with an elegant verandah, including wide steps and gingerbread trim, across the full front. Above this, a narrower roofed balcony was accessible from a door on the second floor. The roof gables featured decorated bargeboards. The Hodges took down the verandah and balcony, bricked up the two end doors and the second story door and, in short, produced the facade which offends the observer today. It may be significant that across the road, 6599 Main Street q.v. had lost its verandahs and been made ugly only about three years earlier; in this short period at the end of the 1950's, the central core of the village was stripped of a good deal of its charm.

After 1963, the Hodges redesigned the upstairs and changed the building into apartments. The property was sold to their son Fred and his wife Lorraine. In 1976 it was sold to Ted Ladelpha and Michael O'Connor of Ladelpha antiques. They developed comprehensive restoration plans but were eventually forced to abandon them due to lack of funding 46. The next owner was Mr. Sam Ghattas who owns it today [1986]. He lives in the building and operates the restaurant on the north side of the ground floor. 47

[after Peter Davidson, 1986. Sources 3, 4, 5. Earlier report by Heather Izzard also on file]


42 The Kemptville Advance, November 23, 1893

43 The reference is probably to "The Lighthouse", which was built in 1915 and operated until 1964, on the Osgoode shore of the Rideau upstream from Kars. See Douglas and Turner [eds]: On a Sunday Afternoon: Classic Boats on the Rideau Canal, Erin, Ontario, Boston Mills Press, 1989, p.32.

44 This presumably refers to 6599 Main Street q.v., since in 1951 the working Post Office was still at 6606 Main Street q.v.

45 The Ottawa Citizen, March 27, 1953.

46 The Kemptville Advance, July 13, 1976; clipping on file. Judging by the sketch on file the proposed "restoration", while no doubt an improvement, bore no relation to the original appearance of the building.

47 Since Mr. Davidson wrote this, new brick veneer has been added: an improvement, but far from the elegance of the original.

March, 1990

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