Last year I began to delve into a bit of Canadian history and the Rebellion of 1837, which I wrote about here.
In my research about the Rebellion, I had read of an account where the leaders of the Rebellion had gathered at a local tavern called Montgomery’s where they plotted their civil disobedience over several glasses of brew. It appears that shenanigans will always be hatched over a few drinks.
I later discovered that the Montgomery Inn still existed and was now operated as a local Historical Museum. Of course I put it on my list of must-visit places in the city and yesterday I made that trip with a good friend.
We had a wonderful tour of this historic building, but to my surprise, I discovered I was there for entirely the wrong reason.
Who would have guessed that on the wild shores of Lake Ontario in 1837, there would be two Montgomerys, each with a public establishment, but with vastly different political leanings?
The owner of the Montgomery Tavern was a Scotsman and Rebel sympathizer, while the owner of the Montgomery Inn, was an Irishman and staunch Loyalist to the Crown. Not only were they unrelated, they were on completely opposite sides of the Rebellion of 1837.
That little tidbit was uncovered at the beginning of our tour, and it just got better from there.
Our guide did a brilliant job of bringing the history of the Inn alive, as well as detailing life in the mid-1800s.
Montgomery’s Inn was only one in a string of inns along this major transportation route in the mid-1800s and became an important meeting place for the nearby community of Islington.
I learned that it was common practice at the time for the wife of the Inn owner to be the person who actually ran the operation, while the husband tended other aspects of the business, like the surrounding farmland.
If the wife died, the husband either remarried and the new wife took over the job of running the Inn, or the Inn ceased to operate. The latter is what happened when Margaret Montgomery died before her husband in 1855. The Inn was subsequently leased as a residence to tenant farmers until the mid-1940s.
There is a farmer’s market held on the grounds every Wednesday all year round. In the winter, the market is moved indoors. I was able to buy bread, freshly baked and still warm, from the outdoor wood oven. It was a popular item and snatched up quickly by the local shoppers.
The museum recently started a new program. On the last Thursday of every month, a liquor license for the bar is obtained and hot stew, cooked over the fire in the ancient kitchen, is served.
I love how this Inn has continued to make itself a relevant part of the community in which it belongs. I have a feeling there will be a return trip to Montgomery’s Inn in my future.
If you have a small historical museum in your area, I recommend that you pay them a visit. During the height of tourist season, these places are often overlooked as destinations in favour of larger venues. If you can get a tour, do it. Chances are, you will be fascinated with the tidbits of history you will learn. I know I was.
…. now I have to go and plan a visit to the site of the former Montgomery’s Tavern.
Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.