1777 Percy Street, Castleton

(1890s)
Roll No. 1411-011-050-11000 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Italianate Vernacular – Designated

The Oriental Hotel built in the 1890s, incorporates features of the Italianate building style popular in that era.

The Hotel originally had eight rooms for guests on the second floor. Later, an addition was built on the front of the upper story enclosing the existing balcony to provide a sun room/sitting room for guests.

The upper floor contains 9 authentic doors and 10 original door frames. Three of the guest rooms still contain period rope ladders provided as fire escapes. The staircase and railing as well as the wainscoting and baseboards in the upper floor are intact. On the ground floor, all rooms retain the original wainscoting and the entrance has the original front door which is topped by an arched transom. A large archway serves as the entrance from the lobby into the West Room (pub). The archway is framed in original trim. The bar room invites one to step back in time with its single board birch bar top and cash tray. The bar is mounted on three large panels of tongue and groove lumber. The centre grooves run vertically, while the outside panels run diagonally. The bar has retained its built-in liquor cabinet, with an ice compartment and original side latch iron hardware. There is also a large free standing ice box. A dutch door serves the area behind the bar and it is believed to be the place guests came to register.

One of the most unique features of this building are the heavy sets of elaborately cast iron door hinges which have intricate patterns worked into the metal. The front and back doors each have three sets of these hinges and there are another eleven sets throughout the ground floor. Also present are some examples of original hardware such as an iron door knob, lock and thumb latch on the back entrance.

History or Associative Value

The Oriental Hotel was built in the 1890s to serve the village of Castleton which was the township seat and a principal crossroads of agriculture. It has housed a doctor’s office, the library and a branch of the Imperial Bank of Commerce. A family called Wolfraim owned and managed the hotel from 1903 to 1986 while another member of the same family owned the Brunswick Hotel on King Street in Colborne.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

1777 Percy Street, Castleton, Ontario
Cramahe Township, Concession 7, Lot 33, Castleton Lot 5

The 200 acres of Lot 33, Concession 7, which includes much of modern-day Castleton, were granted by the Crown to Catherine Williamson (1800-1879), Martha Byrns (1797-1870), Sarah Stevens (1794=?), Rebecca Pruyn (1809-?), and Jane Pruyn (1798-?) on 2 April 1832. These were the five daughters of Matthew Pruyn (1762-1813) an Empire Loyalist who settled in Prince Edward County. It is unclear why his daughters were granted this land. There is no evidence that any of them ever lived there.

Rebecca Pruyn sold the 200 acres belonging to herself and her sisters to Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) on 23 February 1833. Over the next several years Keeler sold off bits and pieces of this land, including Castleton Lot 5 which went to Orilla Weller (1817-1885, maiden name unknown) on 19 October 1848. Orilla’s given name is a little unclear: all land office records and some genealogies spell it “Orilla” but other genealogies spell it “Arilla” and her death record spells it “Aurillia”. Whatever her first name was, she was the wife of Gilbert Weller (ca. 1809-?).

How Firm a Foundation (Argyris 2000) states that the a hotel “variously known as the Orient, the Temperance, the Castleton, and the Union Hotel” was built on this site in 1890. However, almost all of the post-Keeler owners of Lot 5 were innkeepers, including Gilbert Weller who through his wife obtained the property in 1848. In fact a hotel in some form may have predated even 1848, because Gilbert Weller was already a Cramahe tavern keeper when his wife obtained the property in that year. So, although the current building may have been built around 1890, there apparently was a hotel on the site long before.

As pointed out by Argyris, the hotel had various names through its history. Unfortunately, it is unclear exactly when name changes occurred. Argyris references the Gazeteer and General Business Directory of Northumberland and Durham which lists a “Castleton Hotel” in 1865. It was owned by the Temperance Hotel Company from 1869 to 1874, so clearly it was called the Temperance Hotel at that time. Additionally, Argyris cites a Canada Directory entry that references the Temperance Hotel in Castleton in 1908. From 1907 to 1919 the property was owned by the Castleton Hotel Company, so it may have been called the Castleton Hotel during that period, although the company may have been named as it was because it owned a hotel in Castleton and not because it owned the “Castleton Hotel”. The only other evidence available for the name of the hotel is a photograph ca. 1920 labelled as the Oriental Hotel and another dated ca. 1934-1936 labelled “Union Hotel, formerly Oriental Hotel”.

A year and a half after they bought it (12 March 1850) Gilbert and Orilla Weller sold the property to Donald Campbell (1811-1892). Campbell was a resident of Colborne, not of Castleton. Since Campbell sold the property back to the Wellers on 23 July 1860, it is likely that they continued to manage the hotel through Campbell’s tenure as owner. Reference has been found to six Weller children: Charles M. (1836-?), Wellington (1842-1920), Minnie (1843-?), Byron (1845-?), George (1848-?), and Carmen (1860-?), all of whom may have been residents of the hotel if the Wellers actually lived there while they ran it.

On the same day they bought the hotel back from Campbell (23 July 1860), the Wellers sold it to John McHugh (1825-?), an innkeeper from Percy Township. References are available to McHugh being the proprietor of the Marion Hotel in Colborne as early as 1861 and as late as 1871, although his exact dates of proprietorship there are unknown. The 1861 census has McHugh residing in Enumeration District 2 of Cramahe Township, which includes Castleton and not Colborne. However, the Gazetteer entry cited above indicates that Gilbert Weller continued to run the Castleton Hotel at least until 1865, suggesting that McHugh probably managed the Marion Hotel and paid Weller to do the same for the Castleton Hotel. John McHugh was married to Catherine (1836-?; maiden name unknown). Reference has been found to five children: Eleanor (1858-?), Joseph (1859-?), John (1863-?), James (1865-?), and William F. (1872-?). All but William may have been resident in the Castleton Hotel if John McHugh ever lived there.

John McHugh and his wife sold the property to the Temperance Hotel Company on 5 April 1869. The trustees of the company at the time were George Winn, Ezra Black, Charles Newson, Robert Scripture, Austin Dudley, Wesley Jennings, Arnold Dorland, and Eri Mallory of Cramahe Township and Arthur Holmes of Haldimand Township. The company owned the hotel until 25 February 1874. The manager in 1871 was Andrew White Simmons (1831-1921), who was married to Mary Osterhout

(1832-1889) and had two children: Emma Alberta (1857-1881 and John Uriah (1860-1923). Simmons was a first cousin of prominent Colborne businessman Daniel Lewis Simmons (1830-1915).

The Temperance Hotel Company sold the property to Thomas English (?-?), an innkeeper from Lindsay in Victoria County, on 25 February 1874. By this time the Company Trustees were Ezra Black, Robert Scripture, George Winn, and Austin Dudley of Cramahe Township, Arthur Holmes of Haldimand Township, and John M. Grover, George N. Gordon, and Charles R. Ford of Colborne.

English owned the hotel for less than a year, selling it on 8 January 1875 to Jonathan Wolfraim (1835-1878). At the time of this sale English was a resident of Castleton, so apparently he ran the hotel in person. His wife was Lovisa (?-?; maiden name unknown).

Jonathan Wolfraim was a farmer when he purchased the hotel in 1875, but he proceeded to run the hotel himself. His wife was Mary A. Vosburg (1841-?) and they had five children: Maitland (1860-?), Alvira (1863-1898), Ida (1865-?), Minnie (1867-1942), and Willet (1868-?).

On 28 March 1876 Jonathan and his wife sold the hotel to Jonathan’s younger brother Hamlet Wolfraim (1837-1904), a Castleton butcher. Hamlet quickly (19 December 1876) sold it back to Mary. Jonathan Wolfraim died in 1878 and Mary, now a widow, transferred ownership to another of her deceased husband’s brothers, Oliver (1830-1904). Oliver was listed as a farmer in the records of both his purchase and his sale of the property, so apparently he never ran the hotel himself. He only owned it for 3 months, selling it on 25 February 1880 to Frederick N. Hitchins (1827-?). Oliver was married to Jane Allen (1842-1908) and had three children: Jonathan (1862-1926), Mollie May (1876-?), Charles A. (1881-?), and Ella Maude (1883-?).

Frederick Hitchins was already listed as a Castleton innkeeper when he purchased the property in 1880, but whether he was a previous employee of the Temperance Hotel or was involved with another establishment before he purchased Lot 5 is unclear. He was married to Sarah Reynolds (1828-1884) and had a daughter Helena Sarah Maude (1870-?, known as “Lena”).

On 30 October 1886, Hitchins sold the hotel back to Hamlet Wolfraim, by now a farmer, who became the proprietor. Hamlet was married to Jane Inglis (1852-1918) and had two children by her: James Frederick (1872-1958) and Andrew (1886-1968). He had previously been married to Frances Brooks (1842-1866) by whom he had had four children: John Edward (1860-1927), William Henry (1863-1942), Frances Ann (1866-1934), and Franklin Hamlet (1866-?).

Hamlet and Jane Wolfraim sold the Temperance Hotel to James Flaherty (ca. 1860-?) on 22 October 1890. Although he is listed in both the purchase and sale records for the Temperance Hotel as a resident of Hamilton Township, he appears in the 1891 Cramahe census as a hotel keeper, so apparently he was resident of Castleton for a time. Only briefly, however, because he and his wife Louisa (1872-?; maiden name unknown) sold the property to John Lawson Gerow (1821-1906) on 15 September 1891. Gerow was a farmer who in his later years owned numerous properties in and around Castleton. It is doubtful he ever acted as hotel keeper.
It is possible that the proprietor during at least part of Gerow’s period of ownership was Ziba Harnden (1843-1925). Gerow and his wife Eunice Jane Bowen (1841-1922) sold the property to him on 28 April 1893, at which time he was already listed as a hotel keeper. Of course it is also possible that Harnden worked in another hotel before purchasing the Temperance Hotel. In fact he was married to Jessica Laing Broomfield (1846-1915), sister of George Broomfield (1855-1929), proprietor of the Windsor House Hotel in Colborne. The Harndens had four children: Ziba (1875-1957), George Wilson (1876-1933), Ellen Jane (1878-1904), and Margaret Agnes (1881-1903).

Ziba and Jessie Harnden sold the hotel to the Castleton Hotel Company on 9 July 1907. This company retained ownership until 8 February 1919 when it sold the property to Hamlet Wolfraim’s son John Edward Wolfraim (1860-1927), who had been proprietor since at least 1908 (Canada Directory entry referenced by Argyris). John Wolfraim was married to Margaret Emma Ghent (“Meg”, 1861-1949) and had three children: Caroline Jane (1881-1951), Hamlet John (1885-1885), and John Charles (1886-1939).

John Wolfraim sold the hotel to his brother William Henry Wolfraim (1863-1942) on 8 January 1921, and a year later (23 March 1922) William sold it to his (and John’s) half-brother Andrew Wolfraim (1886-1968). Andrew continued to own the property until the 1960’s, long after it had ceased to function as a hotel.

Since the hotel was still called the Temperance Hotel in 1908, but was the Orient Hotel by about 1920, this suggests that the name was changed either by the Castleton Hotel Company, by John Wolfraim

or by one of his brothers. The change to “Union Hotel” must have happened under the ownership of William or Andrew Wolfraim.
Two references have been found to the construction of the current structure on Lot 5. Argyris states that it was built by Timothy S. Giroux in 1890 and an article written in the Colborne Chronicle in 1978 (author?) suggests that it was built by Will Gerow in 1882. Neither man ever owned the property. 1882 was in the midst of Frederick Hitchin’s period of ownership and in 1890 the property changed hands from Hamlet Wolfraim to James Flaherty. Of course the builder of the building and the owner of the land on which it stands don’t have to be the same person. “Will” Gerow was Wilmot Allen Gerow (1855-1919), a resident of Castleton who was indeed listed as a hotel keeper in 1893. He was the son of John Lawson Gerow who owned the property from 1891 to 1893. So Wilmot Gerow may have had a hand in the building of the current structure on Lot 5, but it was more likely in 1892 than 1882. The alternative story has Timothy Giroux building the hotel in 1890. No reference has been found to a Timothy Giroux in Cramahe censuses or in available records of Castleton hotels, other than the one in Argyris. Timothée- Stanislas Giroux (1824-1903) was born in Montreal was an innkeeper in Percy Township by 1878. In 1891 he was listed as an innkeeper in Peterborough.

These two accounts are not necessarily incompatible. John Gerow was a farmer in Percy Township before he moved to Castleton. It is certainly reasonable that he and his son Wilmot enlisted the aid of a Percy Township innkeeper of their acquaintance in constructing their new hotel. This again puts the likely construction date in 1891 or 1892 rather than 1882 or 1890. Giroux may even have managed the new hotel for the first year or two after its construction, to be succeeded by Wilmot Gerow.

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