The Old 'Stopping Place'
Middleville village, originally known as Middleton because of its central location, had a few stopping places over the years. A liquor license was granted in the Secoular (Scoular) name as early as 1823. Ann Wark was operating a grog shop in the latter part of the 1840’s. In the mid 1800’s James Guthrie had a tavern in the village. He later changed his establishment into strictly a store in the time of the Temperance movement. By 1862-3, Mary Scoular had a tavern license and was reported to be in business with Elizabeth Harding.
The Middleville Hotel was originally a log building operated by George Aitken and his wife, Christina Mather Aitkman. It was described as a house with some rooms for overnight lodgers. George is listed as an innkeeper in the village in the 1871 Canadian Dominion Directory. The population at the time was recorded to be about 200 people. A 'stopping place', generally offered rooms for overnight guests, liquor and meals. Farmers who travelled to the village sometimes had to stay over night while waiting on mill work to be completed. They might also just have a meal to sustain themselves for the journey home. Horses would need food and water while they rested before heading home, as well. George owned the hotel until his death in 1890. It is likely that his wife, Christina, operated the hotel until she sold the building to Christopher Jackson who tore down the log structure and erected a brick building. He reportedly, added a hall. It was later purchased in 1903 by William McIntyre who owed the property across the street. He sold it to A. E. Cunningham. It returned to the Mather family's possession when George Mather acquired it. Harry L. Mather tore the building down and the property remained in the Mather family until it was sold out of the Mather family's possession after the death of Lyall Mather. All that remains today is the empty pasture space where the hotel once stood on the corner of Main Street and Wolf Grove Road.
In many instances, women were given tavern licenses. Some women were reported to have carried on the running of a 'stopping place ' after the death of their husband. Likely, as the daily operation of a stopping place would involve meal preparation and laundry, the women would be tasked with the bulk of the daily work.
A 'Grog Shop' was an establishment that served liquor to patrons. 'Grog' was a word used to describe liquor, most often rum, with water added to it. This could be used as a way of rationing and controlling the strength or potency of the liquor being served. The Temperance Movement curtailed the sale of liquor in many areas. At one point, only one liquor license could be granted for a community. The rationale for this allowance of one license was that some type of lodging and meal service had to be available for travelers because of the distances between communities. The liquor license would have provided the necessary income to keep the establishment open.
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This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.