WEST TRAIL

 Beach Road from Route 132 Junction to MacNider Road

UNDER DEVELOPMENT

With great thanks to Allan Smith, long-time Metis summer resident, who helped preserve the past by setting down what he learned from talking to many of the people who lived and live in the homes along this trail.  Properties marked with an asterisk (*) also are spotlighted on the Ville de Métis-sur-Mer Patrimonial Tour by plaques with supplementary information and photos.  Please keep to the sidewalk only and respect property-owners’ privacy.

Note:  You may notice some of the numbers appear out of order.  You’re right! We are not sure why, however, the Trails follow the order of the physical properties; odd-numbered houses will be on the riverside of the Trails and even numbers across on the south side.  We could say just check the mailboxes, however, many these may be taken in except when summer residents are in town!

On this short stretch of Beach Road, between Route 132 and McLaren Road, you’ll find a mix of mostly anglophone year-round residents and visitors who make a yearly pilgrimage to summer homes, some having been in the family since the 1860s.  Among the highlights are two historic English churches, a local school that traces its roots back over a century, reminders of the area’s first large hotel, the town hall, and a building that’s been a post office (with a postmistress’s apartment above), telegraph office, CN ticket agency, and doctor’s office. 

Don’t have time or walking shoes to visit the Metis Lighthouse?  Stop at this junction to see a replica lovingly made by Paul Gendron, son of one of the lighthouse keepers.

From Chez Donat, to the Sunny Bay Hotel, to Petit Miami: the name may have changed but the warm welcome has always been present. First constructed on the north side of the road at the end of the 1920s, with a unique dancehall on pillars stretching out over the river, the Chez Donat Hotel was a local hotspot for several generations of Metis youth. Moved to the south side of the river at the end of the 1950s and renamed Sunny Bay, its unusual turret continued to make the hotel popular with photographers. A change of ownership brought the name Petit Miami some years later. Sadly, the hotel burned down in 2002. The site is now home to the Place Petit Miami restaurant and chalets. 

    • Listen to Sherrill Shaver speak of going dancing at Chez Donat during the Second World War.
    • Did you know… ? There are two other competitors to the Place Petit Miami in its various iterations that in the day could be seen from the site of the two panels:  The Jolly Roger and the Coin de La Baie Motels.  Located just to the west of Metis, the Jolly Roger and Coin de La Baie served alcohol, and were popular places to go from the late 1940s to the 1970s.

The Jolly Roger had a pool to swim in and a bar with live entertainment on Saturday night, which many local and summer residents remember. In the 1960s, The Jolly Roger was operated by Mr. M. Bureau and his wife, and it was sold in the 1970s to Mr. M. Boffard.  Operated by Mr. Bouffard and two associates, the danse hall continued to attract many people until the middle of the 1970s.  At that time, a considerable investment was required to repair and update the building, and it was demolished.

Coin de la Baie, once owned by the Meikle family (see Leggatt’s Point Trail), and then by Claude and his wife Carmen Cyr, was noted for its wonderful meals of Quebec cuisine.

While The Jolly Roger and Coin de La Baie both closed their doors, the memories of ‘the good old days’ linger on for many residents of Metis.  While permanent and summer residents didn’t need to stay in either motel, they did enjoy both for food, drink, entertainment and the sharing of great stories. 

In the 1930s, at the corner of Beach and McLaren Roads, there was a guest house – the Ocean House – owned by A. (Ham) McLaren.  It later operated under the name of Hotel Santerre.  As the hotels’ heydays passed away due to more international travel, the building was demolished in 1990 to build what you see today.  While the house is newer, and the man living here – Reno Isabel – is a ‘relative’ newcomer (he arrived mid-last century), he is a master craftsman who has helped preserve many of the old houses in and around Metis, and he built or did woodwork for many new houses.  Note the cedar hedges that are a hallmark of the summer houses along the Metis East and West Trails.

Atop a cliff, the site for this church was bought by Robert Turriff, John MacNider, and Daniel McGowan, after meeting with James Mathewson, an acting trustee for the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Canada.  While there were Christian men (yes, all men at the time) of God and religious services earlier in the century, this Wesleyan Methodist church, constructed in 1866, was the first purpose-built place of worship in the immediate area.  It is thought that Mathewson (see 467 Beach Road) contributed to financing the church and donated the bell that calls the congregation to service (listen as long-time church member Bill Pearce rings the bell).  The church became the United Church in 1925, when the Methodist Church of Canada joined with the Congregational Union of Canada, part of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, and a fourth Protestant denomination. Today the church hosts services every two weeks throughout the year. It is also used for Remembrance Day commemorations and public speaking events organized by the Metis Beach School and others.

  • Listen to Lynne Van Tienhoven (link to follow) recount what she was told were the views of her great grandfather James Mathewson regarding this first church built in what became Metis Beach.
  • Former Sunday school teacher, Sherrill Shaver, tells us how this particular church had a big impact on her life.

The Metis Beach United Church Manse has been used most frequently, as its name suggests, to house Methodist and later United Church ministers.  However, it also has been rented in summers, for example, by Jacques Bastien, long-time resident of the region, local historian, and collector of anecdotes.  He, with his wife Bernadette Labrie, translated Metis – Wee Scotland of the Gaspé into Métis, un brin d’Écosse en Gaspésie as he believed the Francophone community would benefit from knowing more about Metis’s unique history. Another tenant was Viveka Melki, while she worked curating the full sensory exhibit War Flowers, first shown at the Jardins de Métis and since presented at Vimy in France, and in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Edmonton.  About half of the people highlighted in this multimedia effort, and the idea itself, had roots into Metis.

This classic home is one of two remaining original brick homes in Metis (the other being 292 Beach Road).  All three were built by the Astles, using bricks from the Astle brick factory. 

This beautiful house is one of a handful in the area designed in the Queen Anne Revival style. It is particularly beautifully preserved.

Relatively little is known of this home’s origins other than that at one time it was owned by a Mr. White and at one time it was 

known as a bootlegger’s haven.  Most bootlegging was done at night in the very early years (1880-1900s), and illicit goods would come via boats travelling up and down the mighty St. Lawrence River. The story is that a man had this small home on the seashore. He would go out in his rowboat to meet a small ship and pick up his shipment of liquor. He was always very, very careful, first – not to get caught, and second – not to drown. He did this for years and years, until one fateful night he went out, and never returned. Sometimes there is a cost to being a bootlegger – his home was auctioned for unpaid taxes three years later.

The house sitting here is more or less on the site of St. Lawrence House, a hotel owned originally by Alexander Turriff.  Today, the only traces remaining of the hotel are the low stone walls that bordered its entrance. The original building was demolished in the 1950s, but you need only look across the road to the northwest to understand why this was such a good spot for a hotel: the view of the bay and Metis Lighthouse, a well-known and beloved feature of the local landscape, is stunning.

The house now at 474 Beach was built in 1838.  One of the oldest houses in the area, this farmhouse of Robert and Margaret (Granny) Turriff – their Turriff ancestors were among the first settlers – was moved here from its former site (458 Beach) in 1977. The house travelled behind the Metis Beach School and up the hill to its present location after trees were cut down and Hydro wires were dis- (and then re-) connected.

Metis Beach School, in its sixth iteration, is the only English school in the Lower Saint Lawrence region today.  Its students travel up to 120 km every day to attend classes as they come from the four surrounding MRCs (municipalités régionales de comté or regional county municipalities) of La Mitis, Matane, Matapedia Valley and Rimouski.

The first formal school in the area, founded by school commissioners William Turriff, Hugh MacNider, Peter Francis Leggatt, Dougald Smith, and Donald Macgoughan, was at Leggatt’s Point at Woodlands, the property of Reverend W. MacAlister (no photo exists of this one).  This was built in the early 1830s, just two years after McGill College opened its doors (though it had incorporated a decade earlier).  From the archives of Metis, education seems to have been as important as religion to the population, because residents chose to construct a schoolhouse before they built a church.  As there was no church at the time, Reverend Clougston, a preacher for the town, said:  

“I preached in the schoolhouse on Sabbath day to nearly one hundred, the schoolhouse was filled.” 

To accommodate a growing student population and minimize transport inconvenience, the school moved several times.  From around 1870 to 1900, the school was on Station Road.  From 1900 to the late 1920s, the school – then referred to as ‘the Little Green School House’ – was located behind the McLarens’ property, west of where the school is today.  Construction of a new school here started in late 1928 and was completed in 1929.  Built for 30 students, in some years it housed fewer than 10.  However, when enrolment expanded in earnest, a new school was built in 1996 in front of the old one.  Starting in 2016, the 1929 and 1996 schools were demolished, and a new and very modern school was completed in 2018 – with possibly one of the best views from a school cafeteria anywhere, out to the Saint Lawrence River.  The school now welcomes over 75 students from pre-kindergarten to Secondary 5 (grade 11 for ‘out-of-provincers’), and it keeps growing.

Retired teacher and Principal, Kathy Dodson, remembers what the school was like when she first started teaching here.

This address is home to two houses. The original house, tucked away to the east of the driveway, is among the oldest houses in Metis and believed by some (erroneously) to be a former Hudson Bay Trading Post.  James A. Mathewson – named the first summer resident – and his family lived in the house for many summers.  At the time it was called Seabury Cottage.

The next known owners were Ted and Gerry Pilgrim in the early 1950s. Gerry’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Melton, bought a house behind the ‘Cliff Compound’ of houses (422-432 Beach Road), and moved it to this property, to the west of the original house. The entire property, with both houses, was later bought by Doug and Peggy Johnston who made major renovations, enlarging and modernizing the newer house.  Doug Johnston, an avid gardener, built several flower beds that the Metis summer art group enjoyed painting.

Did you know?  Doug Johnston was a prisoner of war in Hong Kong during the Second World War. We are told that one Christmas he received a tin of tomatoes from the Red Cross. While eating the tomatoes, he saved some seeds. Back in Canada after the war, he successfully grew some tomato plants from the seeds.  

These three houses were built by Sims; Sim was the name of an original Rebecca arrival settler family to the McNider Seigneury. 

  • 466 Beach Road was built by Arthur Sim as a rental property.  Advances in the train and road system made Metis a summer hotspot for tourists, bringing the Metis and environs population from about 300 year-round to 1,800 in the summer.  Renting homes (and building and renting cottages) became a way for local residents to add income during the short July and August season, helping save up for that long fall-through-spring period. Arthur Sim and his family later lived in this house, and it stayed in the family until the death of Theresa Sim.

 

  • 464 Beach Road, likely built circa 1900, is the second house built by the Sim family. About 1975, the house was bought by the Hudons. They added a stone exterior and work tirelessly on the lawn, garden, and shrubs creating a beautiful home. 

 

  • 462 Beach Road is the oldest of the three Sim houses, built by Joseph Sim in 1849. He and his wife Mary Crawford lived in what is now the front section of the house.  In 1925, a rear wing – mainly bedrooms – was added.

George Sim, from the same family, also built three houses on Lighthouse Point between 1910 and 1925.

Robert Turriff – a farmer and manager of both Metis’s first hotel (434 Beach Road) and the first sawmill in Metis – built this house around 1870 on the river side of the road. The right-angle section was added during the 1930s. However, due to land erosion, high tides, and storms, it was decided to move the house directly across the road in 1945. A good job too, as the house was originally situated behind the trees you now see at the edge of the river. To move it across the road, the house was put on rollers and pulled by a horse-operated stump puller. The house has passed down through several members of the Turriff family to its present owner. 

 

Did you know… ?  The Turriffs are quite a clan, especially when it comes to building and buildings:  although newer than the Turriff Hotel that was at 434 Beach Road (with associated buildings at 435 and 438 Beach), and the St. Lawrence House at 474 Beach Road, the houses at 458, 456, 454, 449, 448 and 439 Beach Road, as well as 8 Turriff Road, are all Turriff-built and/or owned too, and there’s history associated with most.

 

  • 458 Beach Road is a Turriff-built house on long-time Turriff property.  The Turriffs (from Scottish Gaelic Torraibh, meaning ‘place of round hills’), are typical of the Scots’ frugality of their ancestors: they did much of the work themselves and/or used mainly recycled materials from hotels and other buildings being demolished.  This house, built by Lorn Turriff and sons, was ready for occupancy in 1977, when Lorn’s wife Winnie found an inscription on their bedroom furniture indicating that the piece had been made in 1877, exactly one hundred years before they moved into their new home.  This house also is what some would describe as a ‘man’s paradise’… Lorn Turriff developed what feels like a museum at the rear of the house, with his collection of tools used in construction over the past 150 years. 

 

  • The father of the Turriffs at 8 Turriff Road built the cottage around 1972. Many people remember Fred Turriff’s fishing weir, which ran out into the river in front of 452 Beach Road.  Fishing nets, and Fred Turriff with a young helper, were easy to spot. 

 

Did you know… ?  Fred was known to have a good sense of humour.  Some years ago, while walking on the beach in Metis with his wife’s brother, Fred began a good-natured conversation – setting the stage to pull his brother-in-law’s leg.  Fred said that one evening not that long ago he’d seen the last mermaid with his own eyes; she had assumed the likeness of a human combing her long golden hair on Maiden Rock, a local landmark. Fred told the story so well that his brother-in-law believed it and told everyone he knew; of course, this spread through Metis.  Then one day, Fred received a homemade anonymous mermaid card.  Written on it was “Ask Mr. Turriff what she was wearing. Don’t make him blush.” This is when he felt his tale had gone far enough and he put an end to the practical joke. 

 

  • The small building at 448 Beach Road was originally on the north (water) side of the road. During the excavation undertaken to move the building, an indigenous grave was found and artefacts from the site were sent to a Quebec City museum.  Read more about the Indigenous presence in and around Metis…

Riverside Cottage was built in 1898 by Robert Turriff and John Astle, two of the major landowners in Metis at the time, as a wedding gift for Robert’s son (Robert James) and John’s daughter (Selina Jessie). The house had its own water system even before there was one in the village. The raw material for the house was obtained from Turriff farms. Logs were sawn at White River, now St. Ulric. Horse-drawn wagons and sleighs often made a trip to St. Ulric with logs and returned the same day with sawed lumber.  Note the very unusual fish-scale shingles which create the corners and facings.

 

The house passed to Robert’s daughter, Evelyn Turriff Pearce.  She ran a guest boarding house during the summer months of 1940-1950.  She then operated a small general store in the building from 1950-1960.  The house passed to William (Bill) and Doreen Pearce in 1965.

 

  • Did you know… ?   The house is so lovely that photos of it have been featured on an 1985 Car Guide, two Royal LePage calendars, and the May 2005 ELLE magazine.  There is also a smaller twin house to this one on Hillside Rd.

Grandson of the original owners, Bill Pearce, tells us about the work it has taken to preserve this piece of local history.

These three properties were all part of Turriff lodgings and hospitality for visitors.  Sadly, Turriff Hall is no more.

 

  • 438 Beach Road – Bowled away  

See the long and narrow shape of this house?  You’ll understand why when you know its original purpose.  In the heydays of tourism, as Turriff Hall and other hotels had sprung up to meet demand, different hotel owners chose different ways to help keep visitors busy, especially on rainy days, and coming back year after year.  This building, now a private home, was a bowling alley for Turriff Hall guests. After the fire that sadly burned down Turriff Hall, this outer building stood empty until its purchase by the Hedges family.

 

  • 435 Beach Road – Awash with tourists 

In 1922, this house was built by Robert Turriff to handle overflow guests from Turriff Hall

 

  • 434 Beach Road – Turriff Hall: The first grand Metis hotel

You are now facing the land where Turriff Hall, the first of the Metis hotels, once stood.  Built in 1862 by Robert Turriff, the walls of this 75-room hotel went from the east-side fence of the property, to the western wall of the garden shed. In the spring of 1941, the building was destroyed by fire. Thankfully, no one was staying in the hotel at the time as it only opened for the summer months. 

  • Robert Turriff’s grandson, Lorn Turriff, tells us about the early days of Metis as a summer resort and his memories of the hotel. 

 

After Turriff Hall was destroyed by fire, the lot lay empty until 1972 when Rodney and Joycelyn Turriff purchased the land and built their house.  Joycelyn designed the house and Rodney built it from wood, windows and doors obtained from six former houses in the area.  The only new lumber used was 1,000 feet of 2x4s. He installed cedar shingles on the exterior and later changed the facing of the front and two sides to beach stone.  Continuing in the vein of reusing, the cedar rail fence at the front is original from the Turriff farm settled in 1831.

 

Did you know…? Rodney used part of a barn once owned by a Mr. McCrae, believed to be the grandfather of John McCrae, the author of the classic WWl poem “In Flanders Fields”.

These houses – all Turriff-built – are often referred to as the Cliff Compound, meaning a group of related buildings.  The relationship?  Homeowners of three of the houses were or are Howard Cliff, his wife, their four daughters and the latters’ husbands, children and grandchildren – the Smiths, Vinings, and Fergusons.

  • 432:  Built about 1915, this house is a twin to that at 426 Beach Road.  The house was rented for years by Duncan and Jean McEachran before they built their own house at 411 Beach.  Although this house now is owned by Bertrand Rioux, we include it in the ‘Compound’, because of the common look, builder, location and enclosure. 

 

  • 430:  Built around 1923 by Vernon Turriff, this house is known as the Doctor’s House because Vernon first rented it to Dr. McDennot, the Metis ‘August doctor’ for years – doctors were given a complementary home for the months of July and August in exchange for holding some office hours and being on call for emergencies during their stay. After being rented for many years, the house was purchased in 1965 by Howard Cliff and it now belongs to one of his daughter’s family, the Vinings. 

 

  • 426:  This house also was constructed in about 1915 by Vernon Turriff.  It was rented for many years and then, in 1965, it also was purchased by Howard Cliff and is now owned by the Fergusons. 

 

  • 422:  Built in 1910 and completely winterized, this was once the house of Lorn and Winnie Turriff (see 458 Beach Road) and where most of the couple’s children grew up.  And this is how the Cliff Compound got started.  For many years, Howard and Jean Cliff and their family rented this house for the summer months. Howard Cliff purchased the house in 1968, and it is now owned by the Smiths. 

 

Listen to Mary Ross, daughter of Howard Cliff and staunch Metisian for scores of years, describe:

  • How the Cliff family started coming to Metis … because of the dollar
  • What life was like as a child in Metis … in the days before TV, video-game and online distractions
  • Kindly Mr. Campbell
  • Ties that bind local and summer residents. [links to follow]

This is one of at least three houses in the area that has appeared in books on Quebec houses or calendars because of its unique design.  The house was built in 1877 for a Dr. Nichols, who named it – we are not sure why – “Alabama Cottage”. Many years later, James and Abigail Lowden acquired the house.  Celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 1922, the Lowdens donated a bell to the Little Metis Presbyterian Church at 391 Beach Road to call church members to worship on Sunday mornings, leading to the addition of its unusual free-standing bell tower.  Upon the death of the Lowdens, the house passed to Grace McPherson, then to Russell and Helen Morse, and finally to Bart and JoAnne Morse (Bart being the great grandson of the Lowdens).  Each owner made improvements, including adding indoor plumbing and electricity, making alterations to the veranda and gallery roofs, and joining the then outside kitchen building to the main house.  In this century, JoAnne Morse discovered a garden planted by James Lowden along the north-east edge of the yard, hidden by beach roses and trees. The Morses spent much of three summers clearing out the overgrown area and recovered the long-lost loosestrife, daylilies, and monkshead, as well as adding plants of their own. 

 

Did you know… ?  There weren’t just outhouses in those days, but also outdoor kitchens, like the one on this property.  Separate kitchens helped keep houses cooler on the hot ‘dog days’ of July and August.  For this reason, they often were referred to as ‘summer kitchens.’

Royalty and other famous names of the day visited Metis.  This cottage was built in 1889 in a classic Queen-Anne-Revival style by Brock Grier for his wife, Katharine Grier, and it was owned by her until her death in 1969.  Katharine Winnifred Grier from Montreal became Lady Hamilton Benn when she married then 87-year-old Captain Sir Ion Hamilton Benn, 1st Baronet, CB, DSO, TD in 1950 – his second wife.  He was active during the First World War, as well as politically and in business, and in fact “remained active in business in the City of London until his death at the age of 98.” (Wikipedia) Lady Hamilton Benn passed away in 1969 and this home is now owned by the Frigons of Rimouski

As with many of the Metis homes, the original house has been lost.  Built c1892 for the Patton family, which would arrive each summer by schooner from Rimouski, it was called Strabane Cottage, and it reportedly serving as inspiration for one Group of Seven member who visited the area.  Starting around 1930, the house was rented for 20 years to Dr. A.W. Furness of Montreal and his wife, Madame Furness.  A French teaching associate of Madame Furness, a Mlle. Juge, also rented the house for many years while running a French summer school and organizing a celebration of Bastille Day every July 14th.  About 1950, the house was demolished.  Phareview, so-called because of its vista on the Metis Lighthouse, was later built on the property by Hartland and Jill Price.  

  • Hear how current owner and art enthusiast, Hart Price, made this remarkable discovery and read more about his investigation into the truth of Cottage, Metis Beach. 

Did you know… ?  The Group of Seven member Lawren Harris’s painting, ‘Cottage, Metis Beach’, sold at auction in 2011 for $152,000.

While not yet an historic property (having been built in 1974), the Round House is certainly worth noticing for its unique design and the construction material, some of which was over 100 years old.

The property for the Round House was acquired from Duncan and Jean McEachran, neighbours to the east at 411 Beach Road and longtime members of the Little Metis Beach Presbyterian Church at 391 Beach Road.  James Peter (Jimmy) Jones was summer minister for the nearby Little Metis Presbyterian Church for a good number of years.  He and his family liked it so much that they decided to become permanent summer residents.  The house was built across several summers, with the roof and outer walls completed between 1974 and 1977 and the interior a summer project for the next few years before the Jones took up residence.  The builders?  An unusual partnership of two families – half local residents (Bill, Reg, Fred, Rod and Bruce Turriff), and half summer visitors (Rev. James Peter, and Peter, David, Dorothy, and Nanny Jones).  Some of the building materials were as old as the earth – with stones and sand from the beach for the fireplace – the centre pole, so to speak. Black spruce poles from the nearby hill, boards from Oswald Campbell’s barn, and others dating back to the 1860s, windows from the former Blue Tea Roomall made their way into the Round House.

 

Did you know… ?  The inspiration for the house came from a 2″x2″ photo that James Peter saw in a magazine. He discussed the design with Bill Turriff, who in turn showed the photo to a curling friend, an engineer from Vancouver on assignment in Price, Quebec. Bill’s friend, a Mr. Williams, produced the foundation design, complete with the numerous angles and joints for this 22-sided house.

Rev. James Peter Jones, former minister at the Little Metis Presbyterian Church, explains his inspiration and how the Round House came about.

After renting properties in what became the Cliff Compound (422-432 Beach Road) for many years, the McEachrans had their own house (“Killellan”) built here by Bill Turriff in 1957, and a guest house at 407 Beach Road followed in 1962; the home was later passed to their daughter, Mary Williams.  To 411 Beach Road also belongs the property across the road: the stone gate opposite once led to the Dougald house, destroyed by fire in the mid-1950s.

Did you know… ? The windows, doors, some furniture and some dishes in 407 Beach Road came from the auction of Seaside Hotel (see Metis East Trail) furniture and fixtures, leading to its name, Seaside House.

You now stand at the bottom of a hill, now known locally as Grier’s Hill, on property once owned by the local Tuggey family.  That the hill remains lined with fir trees makes sense:  the property was sold to George Arthur Grier, a well-known Montreal lumber merchant (as well as President of the St. Lawrence Flour Mill and Diamond Glass Co., and a director of the Dominion Textile Co., among other roles). (was George A. related to Brock Grier 416 Beach – Queen Anne Revival style, built for his wife, Katharine Winnifred Grier) 

 

George Grier first came to Metis with his family around 1889 and rented the Ferguson Manor House out on Lighthouse Road close to Ferguson Bay. The Griers rented for five years and they claimed that the Manor House was haunted by a “horse and buggy”. In 1894, Mr. Grier bought land and built “Summerholme”, now the Rioux home on the south side of what was then Tuggey’s Hill (404 Beach Road) , named for the Tuggey family that once owned land in the vicinity. George Grier then bought the land on the north side of the hill and had two homes built for his daughters around 1904. These homes on the north side are still owned by the Grier family, explaining why Tuggey’s Hill is now known as Grier’s Hill. 

 

  • Built by Mr. Grier in 1894, the impressive house at 402 Beach Road, designed by architect Percy Erskine Nobbs, was the first of several houses lived in by the Grier and Thornton families.  Being in the lumber business, Mr. Grier had much of the wood used in this house imported from all over the world. Just one stunning example?  The lovely teak curved staircase to the second floor that is the first feature to greet the eyes when entering the main house.  This house was sold to Arthur Barry in 1940 or so, who later sold it to the current owners, the Rioux family.

 

  • Did you know… ?  There was a dam (where?) by the road where ice was harvested in winter and preserved in sawdust for the ‘ice boxes’ of the area until electric refrigeration became common.  

 

  • Did you know… ?  Sally Tingley recalls how in the First World War, her great-great grandfather George Grier donated ambulances that his sons drove in the European conflict, with a little time off for… 

 

  • The history of the 397 Beach Road houses – there are two and the usual accompaniment of outer buildings – is all about family:  Mr. Grier had three daughters and, around 1910, he built identical houses at the bottom of the hill to the west of his on the water (north) side of Beach Road for two of them, Sara and Grace. Sara was grandmother to Sally Tingley, now the house’s owner, and the properties have remained in the family since that time with Sally today owning both houses.  

 

  • George’s great-great-granddaughter, Sally, tells us more about summers in Metis; Campbell’s, the store that Sally mentions, was indeed close, at nearby (is it 382 Beach Road or was it demolished?).

You can find out more about Campbell’s, the store that Sally mentions, on the East Trail.

From the bottom of Grier’s Hill in the west, to McNider Road in the east, we’re in former Tuggey territory, which ran from the St. Lawrence River to the 4th Concession Road in the south.  In the early 1940s, Arthur Barry sold his house at Lighthouse Point and bought three houses at the top of what some still called Tuggey’s Hill on what then became referred to as ‘the Grier property’.  It is thought that the houses were built by Arthur Sim around the year 1900.  Around 1960, Arthur gave the three houses to his eldest daughter Kathleen (Kay) and about 10 years later, she sold the two houses on the south side of Beach Road to Bertrand Rioux, keeping 395 Beach.  

 

  • Kathleen Barry, a daughter of Arthur Barry and once named one of Britain’s most elegant women, married William Cavendish-Bentick, great uncle to the Verriers who now own this house.  The Cavendish-Benticks spent their summers here at 395 Beach Road through the late 1980s.  After the death of her husband, Kay continued to come down to Metis until 1991 when she sold the house to her great nephew, Hugh Verrier..

 

  • 389 Beach Road was built for David Tuggey Jr., and rented out to Mr. Ross H. McMaster from 1916 to 1928. Others then rented the house until it was bought by Dan and Marion Doheny in the early 1970s. 

 

  • Did you know …?  Ross McMaster was the maternal grandfather of Anson McKim.  Anson remembered that his mother, Joan, and her siblings, Ross and Sherrill, enjoyed their times here.  He added that when Mr. Tuggey raised the rent for the summer to $600, his shocked grandfather said that it was too much and the family then summered at Lac Brulé in the Laurentians.  But the McKims did make their way back to Metis as diehards do, and you’ll meet up with them again at 383 Beach Road.

 

  • 382 Beach Road was also built for David Tuggey Jr., and you’ll find out more about that house’s history once you get there.

 

  • The plus one?  387 Beach Road was the original homestead of David Tuggey and his wife, built in 1850 shortly after they arrived from England. The house was one story, whitewashed, with wide upright boards and a black tarpaper roof, it was later torn down and replaced with what you see now and the current house was built in 1912 for Judge Redpath.  It was later rented by successive families, including that of Senator L.C. Webster, his wife and their six children.  Webster was born in Quebec City and educated at Quebec High School and Montmagny College. He entered the family fuel oil business and later founded or bought a number of companies, including Canadian Oil Companies Ltd. during the Depression. He was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1920 and sat as a Senator until his death in 1941. In 1945, Hollis and Libby Grier Blake rented the house, subsequently buying it and, in 1980, passed it to Ann and Patrick Blake/Murphy.  

Known locally as the Yellow Kirk (honouring the Scottish roots of the original settler population), the Little Metis Presbyterian Church welcomes parishioners every summer, some from families coming to Metis for generations, and others – newcomers.  Presbyterian services, until this church was built, were held at Leggatt’s Point, three miles distant along poor roads, and hard to reach for “downtown” (Beach Road) summer residents, especially as many attended church twice on Sundays. Ground for this church was cleared in 1882 and construction began in 1883, with the participation of local French and English community members, whose names – Astle, Bérubé, Campbell, Cavil, Crawford, Gagnon, Levesque, Martin, McEwing, Meikle, Page, Picard, Proulx, Rousseau, Sim, Smith, Tuggey and Turriff – are still known to many today. 

 

The LMPC has been blessed with many outstanding ministers on vacation, many from Montreal, including more recent ministers Rev. James Peter Jones, Rev. James Armour, Rev. Dr. David Jones, and Rev. Dr. J.S.S Armour with Rev. Ian MacDonald not coming from Montreal, but having an interesting link. The congregation also was fortunate to have Phillips Motley, a summer resident of Metis with a home at Lighthouse Point for his entire life, as their organist for more than 70 years.  The church bell was donated by Mr. and Mrs. James Lowden to commemorate their 50th wedding anniversary with the bell tower to house it built somewhat later in 1922 – having a bell tower separate from the church is an unusual church design.  

 

  • Long-time summer resident and trustee of the church, Anson McKim, explains the origin of the church and recalls a family story.

Read more… about the building, its members and Rev. Ian McDonald’s important role in the church’s recent history.

387 Beach was one of two “Hostess Houses” in Metis that were rented by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) during the Second World War (the other was located on Station Road).  RCAF Station Mont-Joli, built and used as an RCAF bombing and gunnery school until 1945, rented these houses so that British Commonwealth pilots training at the airbase and offices, living too far to be sent home when on leave, could relax in an English-speaking environment for a few days.  Other service men spent leaves at what is now Domain Bel Azur.

This house was built around 1920 for James Muir and later owned by Stuart Molson who rented it over the years to the Esdailes (any info on them?), Dohenys, and then the Connollys and Galts.  The Dohenys, Connollys, and Galts later bought their own homes close by – there is just something about Metis that keeps some folks coming back…  

 

Anson McKim Sr. and Joan McKim bought this house around 1970.  Joan has many memories of life at Metis when she was a girl. Beach Road, of course, was unpaved and there were no sidewalks, only a narrow path with grassy sides. Merchants delivered food at least three times a week. In a buggy came Mme. Canuel with her vegetables and M. Lapierre with his buckboard in which lay a mess of sawdust, ice and wet potato sacks covering pieces of fish. Best of all, the St. Laurent butcher boy, with his white canvas cart, spring back-door and, we are told but don’t quite understand, wonderful smell.

 

Did you know… ?  Although the McKim family were near the end of the young butcher’s route, he always had what the family wanted because he was courting their nurse (was she from the area or had she been brought with the McKim’s?) and wanted to be in good favour. A happy ending to this story:  the butcher’s lad and the nurse married, had children, and Joan McKim had word that a granddaughter of this Metis-matched couple was studying at the London School of Economics!

Did you know… ?  Although COVID brought home delivery back to the fore, many born after the middle of the last century would never have known home delivery of anything other than the post before technology.  Many older folks in Metis recall that the fish man, the berry and vegetable lady, the milk and egg man, and others would come, often still with a horse-driven cart even into the 1960s, to the large houses along Beach Road.

This house was built in 1929 for James M. Laing and his wife, Florence. For several years, the Laings had rented properties at Lighthouse Point and during this time had became close friends of the Kingstons. In fact, the land on which this house sits was purchased from the Kingston family.  Clad with B.C. fir, it was designed by architect Noel Ingersoll and built by André Rousseau, who also built much of the furniture. Tragically, the Laing’s son Murdoch, their only child, was killed during World War 1 at Courcelette, France, in 1916, while serving with the 24th Canadian Infantry Battalion.  Lacking other heirs, the house was left to a nephew, Dr. Richard Birks, and upon his death he in turn left the house to his daughter Beverley.

 

Did you know… ? Mrs. Florence Laing bequeathed money to create McGill University’s Murdoch Laing Prize in memory of her only son, a graduate of the McGill School of Architecture.  Under the terms of the Mrs. Laing’s will, the prize is to “be paid to the student … of the [McGill] School of Architecture who shall be adjudged by the faculty of the School to have presented the best plans … for a modern city house, both as to economy of construction costs and effectiveness of planning.”

This house was originally built for Sherrill Tuggey’s grandfather when he married in 1881. Following Mr. Tuggey’s death in 1934, the house was inherited by Louisa Tuggey Sim and remained in the family until her death.  In 1980, it was sold to Bill Knight. For several decades since, the house was rented for a month each summer as a manse for the Little Metis Presbyterian Church.

Architect Samuel Arnold designed the house at 373 Beach Road for Lt. Col. (or Col.?) Jeffrey H. Burland.  The house was later sold to Herbert and Ethel Kingston, who gave the house to their daughter Peggy and her husband Frank (last name?).  On her death, the home was bequeathed and passed to Mr. Campbell until the cottage was bought by Peggy Stuart, remaining in the Stuart family until 2020.

 

Did you know… ? Jeffrey Hale Burland entered the faculty of applied science at McGill College in 1878, specializing in practical chemistry.  He was a member of, and remained closely attached to, the militia (the Fusiliers), and was commandant of the Canadian rifle team when it won the McKinnon Challenge Cup at Bisley (Surrey) in England, in 1902.  He joined and later became President of his father’s company, the British American Bank Note Company of Montreal and Ottawa.  The firm printed, and was known for the high quality of, its banknotes, stock certificates, bonds and postage stamps.  He promoted use of the metric system and decimalisation. 

 

Like many wealthy people of the time, he was civic-minded, and cared deeply enough to take action in areas that he saw needed reform, particularly in health care and disease prevention.  He supported hospitals, founded one of Montreal’s first milk dispensaries, and focused particularly on tuberculosis where he helped fund the Royal Edward Institute (for the study, prevention and cure of tuberculosis) due to the then 12,000 deaths a year from this dread disease.  Burland is said to have remarked that the problem of tuberculosis was “inextricably interwoven with such questions as housing reform, city planning, immigration laws, the school system, the cost of living, charity organizations, the minimum wage and labour conditions generally.”  He served as director of the National Housing Association and was a major supporter of the Canadian Red Cross and Boy Scouts movement. 

 

  • Did you know… ?  In 1912, the first Metis ‘Garden Party’ was held in the garden of the Burland summer home in aid of St. George’s Anglican Church (4 McLaren Road, Station Road and Concessions Trail).  A grand total of $314.40 was raised.  Garden Parties continued to be held over the years, changing location and recipient(s) of the money collected.  (see…) 

 

  • Did you know… ?  Lt. Col. Burland also generously donated land, and paid all the costs of moving the building that now is at 370 Beach from his property across the road to its present location. 

Did you know… ?  The working life wasn’t so bad for some – Lt. Col. Burland had the cottage across the road at 374 Beach Road built for his gardener.

Originally called Union Hall, this structure was built during the early 1880s as a non-denominational meeting place.  It was the idea of a group of young women and girls (at least one as young as eight) from the local Methodist (now United) Church.  Calling themselves by the wonderful name the “Willing Workers”, they believed that the community of then 400 or so permanent Metis residents needed a place where everyone could get together and then they made it happen:  they raised the money for construction by putting on concerts, organizing community suppers, and doing work for community members. 

Built across the road from where it now stands, it stood on land that Lt. Col. Burland had bought from the Tuggey family.  After asking if the Hall could be moved to its present location, he donated the land for that purpose, as well as paid all costs of moving the building. 

 

Did you know… ?  The story goes that when the hall was moved down the hill and across the road in 1897, it was intended to be placed further back south from the road, but the effort to move it any further was simply too great, so it was left where it now stands. 

 

Monthly council meetings and social events were held in the Union Hall.  At a meeting in 1899, it was agreed that the remaining debt on the Hall should be paid off, a goal successfully achieved in 1900.  The building’s name then was changed to Town Hall and it has been debt-free ever since.

Since then, there have been some changes under Bill Pearce’s direction, including addition of a new kitchen.  Doreen Pearce and Evelyn Annett provided countless hours of leadership in the preparation of many meals and banquets as the Town Hall hosted more many years of community pancake breakfasts, soup and sandwich and senior friendship’ lunches, Thanksgiving suppers, wedding receptions, Remembrance luncheons, memorial services, Hallowe’en parties, dances, and more. Rita Turriff and others are carrying on the tradition and new volunteers are always welcome. 

This building was home to Town Council sessions until the early 2000s, and continues to host meetings of the Metis Beach Community Association and other local organizations, as well as art shows and exhibits.  An adjacent office has served as premises for summer doctors who see local and summer residents alike.  While the Town Hall is now officially named the Association socio-culturelle de Métis-sur-Mer, it continues to be run by volunteers, and is financed by a small fee for rental of the building covering maintenance and upkeep.  

 

  • Evelyn Annett, long-serving President of the Association socio-culturelle de Métis-sur-Mer, tells us more about the role the Town Hall has played in the community.

 

Did you know… ? The Metis Cabaret has been organized and performed by volunteers on the Town Hall’s stage for more than 50 summers.  In fact, the building has quite a musical and artistical history.  In 1893, summer resident Dr. Kemp and his wife helped the 8-to-15-year-old Willing Worker girls learn to play instruments, put on plays, and conduct drills. And early in the 20th century, Mrs. James Peck, from her personal interest, abilities, and strong civic ethic, looked to find markets for women’s traditional crafts leading her to launch a 1902 exhibition in the Metis Town Hall.  She and partners wanted to support and encourage crafts in Canada and to preserve traditional crafts that risked becoming dying arts, by encouraged craftspeople to work together and sell through a collective. Read more…

Gone but not forgotten… Early in the 20th century, the lot to the west of the Town Hall was a bakery, operated by a Francophone gentleman, until the lot was sold to the municipality this bakery/building is gone?  Any more info?  Also, just to the east of the Town Hall in what is now the Town Hall parking lot, stood  a fire hall and tower for many years.  It was moved in the early 1980s and now is located on Station Road.

This house was built originally by David Tuggey, Jr. behind what is now 396 Beach Road. The house was moved to its present location by Sherrill (Tuggey) and William Shaver. 

 

Did you know… ?  In the 1920s and 1930s, there was an Esso gas station and garage run by the Rousseau brothers on this plot of land.  Demolished and removed in the 1940s, it was replaced by a restaurant – The Snack Bar – which operated for a number of years on the same property. Demolished?  – part at least is incorrect – do not include at this time

 

Tea for two.  Another favourite that is no more is Ye Old English Tea Shop, built early in the 20th century between what is now the Tuggey-Shaver house at 368 Beach Road and McNider Road to the east.  Operated by Mrs. Patty Gloyne for several years, it was very popular. [Later, Mr. F.J. Astle owned the property and then sold it to Mr. Kingston – has this been added to the Shaver property?]

John McNider bought the land for this property from Charles Sinclair Drummond in 1898. McNider later left the property to his children Mary Anne, Ida Melissa and Agnes McNider in 1906. The sisters sold the property to Mr. M.K. Yuile. Mrs. Yuile, the grandmother of David Hodgson, had the house built in 1910. The house was designed by an American architect who is believed to have designed other houses in Metis but records fail to list his name. Years later, the property was willed to David Hodgson. On the death of David Hodgson, the house was passed to his stepson, Christopher Molson and his wife Nancy, who have restored the house to its original design.

The Cascade Hotel built this house to accommodate extra guests in the summer, an arrangement 

that worked well for many years.  As tourism to the area declined, this was sold to Dr. Hugh and Mrs. Burke née McNider, who later sold the house to Joe and Jean Connolly and Tom and Helen GaltPassersby can enjoy from the street the house’s lovely garden on the west side of the driveway.

 

Did you know… ?  Most walkers hear or are aware of the stream that flows behind the north side of the Cascade Golf and Tennis Club (CGTC) tennis courts, under Beach Road, and along the east side of the Connolly/Galt property. What might not be known, however, is that the Club had to install a submersible pump in the river below and to the north of the tennis courts to provide water for the courts, and the first, 17th, and 18th holes, as well as the practice putting green.  After the municipality reasonably said that treated water could no longer be provided to the Club except for drinking purposes, the Connolly/Galt families allowed the Club to install the pump in the stream on their property to solve the Club’s watering problem.

You are now standing over Cascade Brook (once MacNider River), which becomes the Cascade Falls before flowing into the Saint Lawrence River.  It’s a popular place for residents and children to explore and you can also try your hand at fishing for brook trout.  In the very early years of European settlement, Macnider River was also referenced as Brough (pronounced Brock) Brook, named after the Scottish family Brough who lived there.

Did you know … ? In the 1930s, an Indigenous family came to Metis and stayed for summer months on the west side of Cascade Brook, close to the falls on the north side of Beach Road (low centre in this photo with  people outside; what is now 357 Beach Road can be seen in the top left half of the photo, but it is no longer visible due to trees). The best known of the family was Mary Ann St. Denis, nicknamed ‘Indian Annie’, and she was a basket weaver. She sold various sizes of handmade baskets and other household items made out of birch bark, porcupine quills, and sweetgrass, along with carved wooden items. In many of the Metis homes today you can still find items such as birchbark napkin rings decorated with brightly-dyed quills, wood bracelets with Metis written on them, birchbark-and-stick log holders by their fireplaces and wastepaper baskets made by Annie and her family.  Read more about the Indigenous presence in and around Metis…

This house at the southwest junction of Macnider and Beach Road is one of a few houses which, for a long time, were owned by the Macnider family, descendants of the first Seigneur of Metis. John Macnider (1760-1829) is considered the father of Metis because from 1818, he encouraged the immigration of settlers from his native Scotland by providing the families, descendants of which still live here today, with two years of provisions and free rent.  Although there were no real roads at the time, MacNider saw to the construction of farms, a sawmill, a corn mill, a shipyard, and dwellings.  He also encouraged the establishment of the Kempt Road, helping make the Seigneurie area into what was then a thriving community. 

Built by the McNiders in the late 19th century, this house was rented to Mr. Ferguson, who operated a store there, and was later taken over by Jack Campbell (related to grocery store Campbell?).  The post office was moved from the McNider residence across the street (Corner House?) into this building. Originally occupying a relatively small space, the post office was alongside what was to be the postmistress’s apartment. Beside this first-floor apartment was an office shared by CN staff: a telegraph operator and a train ticket agent.  

In the 1940s, the top two floors of the building were used to house some of the Cascade Hotel’s summer staff. Sherrill Tuggey was appointed postmistress in 1942 and in 1945, Mrs. Janet Meikle, grandmother of Sherrill Tuggey, bought the building from the Cascade Hotel Company, after selling her farm and the Green Gables Hotel at Leggatt’s Point. At the request of the then Postal Department, Sherrill enlarged the post office, expanding it to the adjacent apartment. In 1953, her father, Sydney Tuggey, bought the building from his mother-in-law.  For a while, this corner also became a bus stop.

Over time, the summer population decreased, as flying to foreign destinations became more affordable and as more women were working, and so were unable to summer for two months with their families in Metis while husbands still worked in Montreal and elsewhere.  The big hotels were demolished during the 1960s, leading to the closure of the post office and telegraph office, and conversion of this house’s main floor into apartments.

In 1981, the property was converted into a triplex and the old telegraph office was made into a medical clinic during the summer months for a few years.  The provision of free housing for doctors, in exchange for holding some office hours and being on call in emergencies, was covered by Metis Beach Community Association (MBCA) dues.  The doctors answered the needs of summer and permanent residents, as well as visitors from time to time.  ln 2000, the property was sold and two apartments are rented while the owner lives in the third unit.

 

Postmistress until 1955, Sherrill Tuggey Shaver tells us about the bustle of living and working in this building.  And while bad news could come by telegram or mail, so too could good news:

Sources:
  • With the greatest appreciation to Allan Smith, long-time summer resident, Anson McKim, Rev. James Armour and others who contributed and reviewed drafts
  • McCord Museum, II-120264 | Mr. J. A. Mathewson’s group, Petit Métis, QC, 1897; II-120266 | Mr. J.A. Mathewson and wife, Metis Beach, QC, 1897
  • https://heritagelsl.ca/a-quiet-history-of-metis-beach-school/

Comments (0)

I’ve enjoyed this history of Little Metis very much. I have ancestors from Little Metis, the oldest being Joseph Sim, who arrived via McNider’s schooner, The Rebecca. My great-great-grandmother was named in part after McNider: Mary McNider Crawford Sim, b. 1822. If anyone knows of the Sim family, or is related to this family from Little Metis, I’d love to hear from you.
My email address is: hfraserfawcett@bell.net. Many thanks and best wishes. Heather

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