Of Inns and Taverns

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.

Montgomery Inn4

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.

Montgomery Inn5

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 Inn3

An addition built onto the original Inn housed the bar and communal room

Montgomery Inn

Only the bartender is allowed beyond this point

Montgomery Inn2

The storage area in the bar area

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.

Montgomery Inn6

Door from the kitchen to the bar

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.

Montgomery Inn7

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.

 

About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in Around Toronto, history, photography, Things I Like, Thursday Doors and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

103 Responses to Of Inns and Taverns

  1. bikerchick57 says:

    Joanne, I am a bad blogger buddy…I missed your last two posts! I know I’ve been busy this month, but still, no excuse!

    I loved the doors of this post and the history you gave of the tavern and the inn, and their owners’ opposing views. I think the storage area door is my favorite. What do you think they kept back there?

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Oh Mary, I know what you mean. This past month has been a blur of activity for me – busy doing summer things and loving every minute of it.
      The problem is that I’ve been off-the-grid for days and now hopelessly behind with over 400 posts sitting in my mailbox.
      I can’t allow myself to feel guilty though. It’s summer and for those of us in the north, we have to squeeze every minute out of it while we can!!

      I’m guessing that storage area was used to store bar things – like kegs of beer/wine – although it never occurred to me to ask! Talk about being a bad blogger 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • bikerchick57 says:

        I probably have 400 emails in my in-box every three days. I can’t possibly keep up, so I try to scroll through them to make sure I don’t miss important posts (but I do) and then I delete the rest. It’s all I can do these days because I don’t have hours and hours to sit in front of the computer. And I’m also a northern girl who needs to enjoy summer while it’s still here.

        Like

  2. What an interesting history! And fresh bread sounds fabulous!

    Like

  3. What a great place. I would go there on Thursdays when they have their liquor license and also on Wednesdays to pick up some bread.

    Like

  4. daisymae2017 says:

    Love the picture journey of Inns and Taverns.

    Like

  5. Darn the luck. Another tavern to visit in the name of research. Ugh!

    Like

  6. reocochran says:

    So cool to find out about Montgomery Tavern and the Montgomery Inn with their past connections. I am so glad you also included tidbits and personal anecdotes attributed to the Inn, especially. I liked the first door with the stonework so unique and almost looks like piled together with big layers of spackling with their spots left on the rocks. Women are the ones standing behind so many good stories, I feel.
    The outdoor bread oven still in working condition was really a great addition and how lucky for you to have still warm from that oven bread to purchase!
    I hope someday you will go on a Thursday and try the stew, posting for us to drrol and salivate over what I imagine a very good recipe!

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      That bread had a pretty short lifespan. Funny how that works with good bread 😉

      It’s too bad that this place is on the other end of the city or I would frequent its market regularly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • reocochran says:

        I agree, sometimes it would be nice if special places could be quickly traversed to, if only those savvy cartoonists from “The Jetsons” would have created Real briefcases which transformed into individual flying spaceships! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Great plans are made over a drink or two. Three or more drinks and plans are forgotten, everyone goes to sleep, and then they wake up the next morning wondering what all the fuss was about.

    Great history and beautiful doors!

    Like

  8. dennyho says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that kitchen door with the 16 glass panes. What a great day trip!

    Like

  9. Mrs. P says:

    I love this Inn!!! Great history , especially with the names and opposing politics. I could live in this Inn.

    Btw, I thought of you often last week as I walked my way around southern France…I could have spent a month taking pictures of the various doors and ironwork from gates and balconies.

    Like

  10. Deb's World says:

    This was really interesting Joanne, great detective work and a good story from days gone by.

    Like

  11. Sue Slaght says:

    Oh you really are turning into a detective! That is a fascinating tidbit about the two Monthomerys!

    Like

  12. You’re a pretty great tour guide too! What a lovely tour, and interesting history. The door behind the bar was really pretty with the blond wood.

    “Moms and wives hold everything together” That’s true at my house. I can’t leave for two days without it falling apart. I’ve always said to He-Man if I go first he’ll have to remarry b/c he doesn’t know how to keep or run the house. Of course he’s been busy making a living for us…pretty much like those old timers. “)

    Like

  13. Margie in Toronto says:

    Montgomery’s Inn is very close to where I live and I’ve been there for a few events over the years as you can rent space for your organization/clubs to use. I did know about the Farmer’s Market but didn’t know about the stew – I’ll have to let some friends know!
    A few years ago I took a walk run by the Toronto Historical Society that covered off a lot of the events and locations that related to the 1837 Rebellion and it was very interesting – you might like to look into it. Also – have you visited McKenzie House – if not, add it to your list – it’s also very interesting and details a lot of the rebellion’s events.
    I’m hoping to do a tour at Queen’s Park next week – haven’t been since I was a kid – I too am trying to be a tourist in my own home town this summer and it’s a lot of fun.

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Yes, I will have to add McKenzie House to my list. It did come up in discussion as well as Spadina House.
      Enjoy your tour at Queen’s Park. I did it last summer and was fascinated. I had never been there before. I wanted to go back while they were in session, but I never made it. Oh well, there’s always this winter 🙂

      Like

  14. J Walters says:

    What a fascinating place. And history. I need to put this on my bucket list. Thank you.

    Like

  15. JT Twissel says:

    An Irishman staunchly loyal to the Crown – now there’s a twist! Yes, sometimes fascinating places are right down the hill!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. You give the greatest history lessons! Great photos and ‘real life’ stories here. Interesting how life can only go on for these taverns and Inns if there’s a wife!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It usually happens that you are more inclined to visit museums in “other” places, rather than what is right in your town. I appreciate the many tours of Toronto – and I think it is wonderful that you are exploring your city so thoroughly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      The idea to start playing tourist in my own city started when we were on vacation in Oslo 2 years ago.
      It occurred to me that we’ve traveled extensively around the world visiting sites far and wide, while at the same time others were traveling to Toronto to do the same. I’ve lived here for over 35 years, yet I was embarrassed by how little I actually knew about it. We tend to neglect what’s in our own backyard and I set out to know my city better.
      Better late than never!!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Norm 2.0 says:

    Alcohol and a little rebellion, gee what could go wrong with that? 😀
    Loved the old wooden doors in this place, especially the one to the storage area behind the bar.
    And warm, fresh-baked bread too – bonus!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ruth says:

    I love the idea of shenanigans being hatched over a few drinks – I guess some things never change! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Exactly! … but I can’t help wonder if the rebellion would have been more successful if alcohol hadn’t been involved in the beginning. Perhaps some extra planning and sober thought might have helped 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Heyjude says:

    Always good when a plan works out well, even if it was not quite what you had expected. I like visiting small museums – less crowds and often more interesting exhibits, though I recall the museum in my home town was very boring with dusty relics. Places have to be interesting and diverse these days to entice visitors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I’m discovering that the right tour guide can make a lump of dirt interesting … and this guy was GOOD!
      I’ve never been much of a museum person … they tend to make my eyes glaze over in the first 5 minutes. Perhaps the key all along was to seek out the small ones.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. Corina says:

    I keep wanting to check out some of the historic sites here but haven’t yet.I’m very near Oregon City which was the end of the Oregon Trail so there are a lot of small museums to check out. You’ve encouraged me to do it.

    Like

  22. Ha!!! It’s true! Many, many plans are hatched over a serving of libations. Some great plans …. some not so great plans. These are some pretty fabulous doors!! And the history which accompanies them.

    Like

  23. That is so cool, Joanne. Not only the tour, but the baked bread, the market, and the stew cooked over the fire. What a fun way for the place to stay vibrant and active in the community. Interesting history and coincidences too!

    Like

  24. jesh stg says:

    Love the Mission style door. leading to the supply room. Right now delving into the American history (because that is where I live right now) would be depressing – to see how far it has strayed from its original intents and purposes.

    Like

  25. Dan Antion says:

    Beautiful doors and an interesting double-history! I love the door behind the bar with the slats. But, if I had to choose, I’d take the door to the outdoor oven, at least if I was in time to get a loaf of bread. Thanks for the tour, Joanne. This was a pretty cool story.

    Like

  26. Mary C says:

    The other Montgomery isn’t nearly as interesting. It’s just north of Yonge and Bloor…. At Yonge and Montgomery. There was an old post office there but now it is the site of a condo development. Not long ago there was a plaque there but i’m not sure if the construction obscures it or not.

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      After my visit to the Inn, I read up on the Tavern and confirmed it has been long gone.
      I had read that the old post office had been incorporated into the Montgomery condos. If there was a plaque, I hope they preserve it properly.
      Thanks for the heads-up about it being just north of Yonge and Bloor. For some reason, I thought it was at Yonge and Eglinton. I’d be looking for a while 😉

      Like

  27. Jeanne says:

    I love this post, Joanne…fascinating…and love that 16-paned door…yes, I counted. 🙂

    Like

  28. Wonderful piece of history and handsome, sturdy doors. I LOVE the sign in the first photo. Very unique. 🙂

    Like

  29. Hmmm… the wife dies and the inn closes… why am o not surprised?

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Tippy Gnu says:

    I’ll take farm work to inn-tending, any day, but my wife would probably prefer inn-tending. So I think we would have fit in, back in the mid-1800s.

    Like

  31. What an interesting building and a great story. I wouldn’t mind trying the stew -especially since they have a liquor license. 🙂

    I am a little bit worried. I haven’t gotten an email notification of your new post from WordPress, even though I am supposed to. It drives me crazy when they do that.

    Like

  32. This has to be my favorite bit of his-door-ical research in many weeks. What fun and hot, fresh bread besides!! I do love carbs, despite the anti-carb trend these days. Thanks for the reminder to look for little, local museums. We have a few around here that I need to explore.

    janet

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I run hot and cold with carbs. There’s no question that I feel so much better when I don’t eat them, but it’s comfort food!

      Because of this visit, I’ve developed a whole new respect for small local museums. I’m going to have to visit more of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think some of it may be the the type of carbs most people eat: white flour with lots of added sugar and other things. People in Europe eat a reasonable amount of carbs in the form of pasta and bread, but it doesn’t seem to be a big deal there. Of course, not everything there is whole grain, but there seems to be much less added sugar and unnatural ingredients.

        Liked by 1 person

  33. You had me at museum, but you REALLY had me at warm bread. I’m such a slave to carbs.

    That’s so quirky – that two Montgomery clans on opposites sides of the issue.

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I’m the complete opposite to you on this one, Maggie – well, except for the carbs. mmmmm carbs!!
      Museums normally bore me to tears, perhaps that’s why this one was so refreshingly different. Our tour guide truly was brilliant. I could have listened to him tell stories of the period for hours.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Well, I have learned something today. I didn’t know of the existence of this museum even if I lived in Toronto for 25 years…the things you missed when you live in a city. Thanks for the visit and the story. (Suzanne)

    Like

  35. loisajay says:

    Isn’t the woodworking just beautiful?! Oh, warm bread….yes, please.

    Like

  36. DailyMusings says:

    wonderful history – and great photos Joanne- thanks!

    Like

  37. nrhatch says:

    Colonial taverns are a fave ~ going to college in Williamsburg meant being able to walk to Chownings, Kings Arms, Christianna Campbells, or Raleigh’s Tavern to sup and dine.

    Thanks for the tour!

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      That is something I wish I had access to … a local pub or tavern. Sadly, there are none in my area. It’s just not the same when you have to drive some distance to get to one.

      Like

  38. Jackie says:

    Up the street, practically, from me!! We first went there last year and enjoyed it too.

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Isn’t it fascinating to discover these little treasures?!
      Now on some cold winter Thursday night at the end of the month, you will think of Montgomery’s Inn as place for a brew, hot meal, and a bit of community 🙂

      Like

  39. Donna says:

    I always love the tours that you take us on, Joanne, and this one was brilliant. The warm, freshly baked bread was the icing on the cake!

    Like

  40. joey says:

    Pretty. Love the shelving with all the dishes. All the doors are so old and warm. But I think the best part is how they’re still contributing in a relevant way. I will have the stew, and some bread, and something from a brown bottle, thank you. I eagerly await the story of the other 🙂

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      That was my reaction too, Joey.

      I now have a deep appreciation for the work of the curator – the research and attention to small details to bring a time period back alive.

      It is so appropriate that a place which held a significant role in its community, should, as a museum, now go back to its roots as a meeting place in its community.
      Love, love, love it!

      Liked by 1 person

  41. Joe says:

    Great images and post Joanne 🙂

    Like

  42. Loved the history of these places…and the doors – dreamy!
    I was most fascinated by how the inn or tavern would cease to operate if the wife died.
    Do you think that’s similar to what happens when the mom leaves home for a couple of days?

    I always love your stuff, Joanne. Thank you for sharing!! xo

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s