Every bustling village needed a place for weary travellers, visitors and even workers to rest as they passed through or looked for work. The stagecoach drove through Kilbride and made a stop at the corner of Thomas Street (Kilbride Street) and Rebecca Street (Cedar Springs Road). This was the location of the Fountain Hotel located on the south east corner of the T intersection on Lot 20 on Rebecca Street.
For the stage, this was a very convenient stop as located on the west side of Rebecca Street was a watering trough for the horses. Just to the east of the village, as Twiss Road turned 90o to Baker Street (Kilbride Street), was another trough on the south side of Baker Street. Both are now long gone.
One of the earliest mentions of a hotel was in February of 1869. The Milton Champion ran an ad for the hotel naming the proprietor as W. F. Mills.
Another documented mention of the hotel was in the Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory 1869 that listed the hotel keeper as F. W. Mills. This may or may not have been a typo.
The hotel history gets a little bit confusing as the land records show that on October 20, 1872, Lot 20, NE of Rebecca was purchased by William Francis Mills from Thomas L. White. Thomas ran the T. L. White store on the west corner Rebecca and Thomas Street. W. F. Mills, most likely managed a hotel on Lot 20 from 1869 (or earlier) until he purchased the property. The question remains, did Thomas L. White build a hotel and was it run by W. F. Mills?
The chain of ownership is an interesting thread to follow. March 17, 1856, William Panton and his wife sold ½ of lot 20 to Francis Baker. Francis then mortgaged the property with the Western Permanent Building Society for what appears to be $200. The Western Permanent Building Society’s President at that time was Thomas Duggan and the Treasurer was Frederick A. Ball.
On December 2, 1862, The Western Permanent Building Society sold the property to Thomas L. White. The property is shown as Lot 20, 1/5 of an acre. No dollar amount is listed, however the previous mortgage was $200. On October 30, 1872, Thomas L. White, sold the property to William Francis Mills.
An ad in the Milton Champion on November 13, 1872, announced the purchase of the hotel. This leads one to assume that a hotel was indeed already in existence on the property and that William Francis Mills, in 1869, may have been working as the hotel keeper until his purchase 1872.
To add confusion, the 1871 Canadian Census shows a Francis William Mills in Nelson Township, age 32 with a wife and three children listed with the occupation of hotel keeper.
Another possibility may have been that the W. F. Mills of 1869 could have been the father of William Francis Mills Jr. This would account for that fact that it was not surprising that Jr. purchased the hotel and gave up his livelihood as a tinsmith. The ad requested that all those who have outstanding accounts with him for tinsmith work settle their accounts before they are placed in the hands of collectors. A further search of the land records could show where W. F. Mills lived and had his tinsmith shop.
On November 17, 1874, W. F. Mills and wife sold the property to George Hopkinson. George then turned around and sold the property on February 19, 1875 to John Early for the sum of $1,000.
Just about one year later, on January 10, 1876 there was a tragic fire that completely destroyed the hotel and adjacent property. On April 30, 1880, John Early and his wife file a release of equity of redemption to William Caldwell for the sum of $1.
Fire at Kilbride – About one o’clock last Monday morning the Fountain Hotel took fire and was burned to the ground together with the stables and Mr. C. Raspberry’s residence. The Odd Fellow’s hall was in a wing of the hotel, and all their property was destroyed. The fire is supposed to have originated from a defective stovepipe. Owing to the high wind which prevailed the fire made quick work, and the first intimation the inmates had of it was the ceiling dropping in and some of the had narrow escapes. We believe the insurance is small – Champion.Milton Canadian Champion, 1872
The corner where the hotel was located was a very desirable location and the land records show a steady stream of ownership. The hotel is said to have housed the Oddfellow’s Hall that was lost in the fire, it became a blacksmith shop run by Joshua Worthington. The Carey brothers turned the corner to a bustling and viable business as the location of evaporators. In the most recent history, the corner became the location of a service station and garage, again, changing hands a number of times.
An interesting story that is related in Our Church Centennial, Kilbride United Church, 1860 -1960 recounts the burning of the hotel. The Methodist parsonage stood next to the hotel and was in imminent danger of catching fire. Rev. James Clappison was the minister at the time. Villagers ran to the parsonage and were attempting to remove the furniture to safety. The story goes that the Rev. was very calm and said “Do not trouble yourselves. The parsonage will not burn.” He then asked the villagers to pray with him and miraculously, the winds shifted and the parsonage was spared.
Contributing Author: Helen Callaway