Allan House & Cecil Hotel Perth

Dining staff at the Allan House Hotel – Second from the right -Anne Trainor (Kerr), her sister is in the middle. Lizzie Trainor (Menagh), daughters of Michael Trainor and Mary Laughney, c. 1900, Photo: courtesy of Shirley (Kerr) Scott

Allan House

The building was erected in 1845 by John McCallum. In its glory days, Allan House was the largest hotel in Perth, with fifty well-appointed rooms. Owner and operator, Andrew Robinson, was known for his hospitality and he offered free buggy rides to the train and stages.

photo: Middleville Museum, c. 1900

William McEwen operated the horse-drawn taxi which departed from the Allan House every day except Sunday. The fare was thirty-five cents to Balderson and sixty-five cents to Lanark.

Dodds Grocery Store

Dodds Grocery Store was located in the same block as the Allan House Hotel.

Photo: shows Matilda Dodds, age 23, in 1905, the year she married Norman Dodds. Matilda ‘Tillie’, was the daughter of Edward Donnelly and Mary Ann Palmer. The photo was taken he year she was married to Norman, born on the Scotch Line, son of Thomas Dodds and Margaret Munro. Norman and Tillie had one child, Dorothy, born a year after their marriage.

The popular Allan House Hotel was sold in the fall of 1911 to Mr. Fitzgerald of Almonte, and the name was officially changed on November 1, 1911 to the ‘Hotel Cecil’

Hotel Cecil

Death in the Laundry Room

Just a few days before Christmas – one month after the Fitzgerald brothers took over the hotel, tragedy struck, when Rose O’Neil collapsed suddenly, while working in the laundry room of the hotel, and died. She was a daughter of Francis O’Neil of Burgess Township.

Dec. 22, 1911, p. 1, “The Perth Courier”

There were several fires in the building over the years – in 1920, in 1924, and in 1972.

1972 Fire

Residents Escape

In Night Attire

“It was a miracle that no one was killed or seriously injured in the $250,000 fire which swept through the stone building on Gore Street E., near the Town Hall, early Monday morning.

The business and apartment block, owned by Leslie Campbell of Ottawa, was purchased by him just twelve months ago.

The two-storey apartment building, along with a penthouse, was occupied by elderly people, who came to near-panic when the alarm sounded and they found the stairs and halls were filled with smoke.

One lady was carried down from a verandah on the back of a fireman, while another was rescued from a second-storey window. The remainder were led through the smoke by police and firemen and lost all their furniture and private possessions.

Gerald Dean, who was driving south on Gore Street at 3:30 a.m. noticed smoke drifting across the street. He turned on Market to the rear of the premises and saw that the tinsmith’s shop was a mass of flames.

He immediately ran over to the police station and notified Constable Dulmage, who was on duty at the time.

The Constable handed Dean the fire extinguisher while he sounded the fire alarm.

On returning to the scene of the fire, he found the windows of the tinsmiths’s shop were broken, probably due to the intense heat. At that time, he said the blaze seemed to be confined to that one area.

The fire department was on the scene very quickly and Mr. Dean decided to go home to bed, as he thought it was only a small fire.

When he woke at 7 a.m. he was amazed to see the whole building gutted.

In an interview, he said he saw nothing that would indicate how the fire had started.

Firemen from Smiths Falls, Almonte, and Lanark, along with the rural township firemen, helped to quell the blaze.

Four businesses, Thomas Hardware, Avco Finance, a coin laundry and a recently-renovated Eaton’s order office were gutted by the fire. All the contents and records were completely destroyed.

Constable Dulmage went to the Gore Street entrance of the building to arouse the residents on the second floor along with Robert Scobbie of Perth, who had heard the fire alarm and came to help.

The Constable said, “I could see the doors of the apartments when we climbed the stairs and entered the corridor. We banged on the doors and the elderly residents, unaware of the fire, came out in their night attire.

“We led them down the stairs and the smoke was so thick we had to feel our way to safety.”

The residents were then directed to the Town Hall where their relatives were notified and came to give them shelter in their homes.

“To make sure no one was left in the buildings, Scobbie raced back into the smoke-filled apartments for a final check.”

As conditions grew worse, he (Scobbie) found himself stranded and had to make his way out of the building by smashing a window on the second floor.

The brave young man was rescued by Constable Dulmage who heard the crash of glass and placed a ladder up to the window.

The Salvation Army officers were at the scene very quickly to serve hot drinks and sandwiches to the firemen. Nelson King, a local merchant, also served hot coffee during the early hours of the morning.

Firemen Injured

Two firemen, Deputy-Chief David Bell and Ron Jenkins, were taken to hospital for treatment after being cut by flying glass when an explosion took place at approximately 5:45 a.m., in the Avco offices. This is believed to have been caused by combustion building up in the offices, which ran the width of the buildings.

Fire Chief, Jack Andison said, “We were very fortunate to stop the fire from spreading to the attached apartment building. We had problems in fighting the fire due to some old wooden buildings being adjacent to the destroyed portion.”, he said.

The Chief said that the Perth Utilities bucket truck had played an important part in keeping the fire under control, as it was used to lift firemen and hoses to the roof of the building so water could be poured down from an overhead position.

Later, the Almonte Fire Department came to their assistance with an aerial ladder.

At about 6 a.m., the Chief explained, flames were shooting from the second and third storey windows, and the fire spread through the attic and into the tar and gravel roof of the building.

According to a report, the tinsmiths’s shop, owned by Roy Kilpatrick, was securely locked

by Clyde Emerson as he left the building at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. He was believed to have been the last person in the tinsmith’s shop.

Electric Short

The fire is believed to have been caused by an electric short.

The staff of the Ottawa Gas Co. was called to the scene and turned off the feeder line to the Coin Wash at 6:30 a.m. All pipes were found to be undamaged and intact.

In an interview with Mr. Campbell, the owner of the building, he said he was called to the fire early in the morning and the gutting of the building was a complete shock to him.

“At the present time,”, he said, “I cannot make any decision with regard to re-building. But I will definitely clean everything up as soon as possible.” The building is believed to be insured for $100,000.

Perth Town Council will be sending letters of citation to Constable Richard Dulmage and local resident, Robert Scobbie for the parts they played in rescuing the apartment tenants.

Letters of citation will also be sent to the local police department, Public Utilities Commission, fire department, and the three other fire departments which responded to the emergency.

Considerable smoke and water damage was done to the adjoining building, which houses DiCola Fuels, New Style Shoppe, and Haggis Candy Store.

All these stores are closed at present for clean-up operations.”

Thursday, November 30, 1972, “The Perth Courier”

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

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