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Crescent Lodge 1906–1937
Crescent Hotel 1912–1949

Information and photos provided by Jack Berry

Catering to tourists and providing accommodation has always been important to Crescent Beach. This began early in the 20th Century.

Crescent Lodge 1906–1937

Captain Watkin Williams and Elizabeth Williams owned both the Crescent Lodge and the Crescent Hotel. It is said that the Captain was around Elgin before 1900. He had piloted a lugger up and down the Nicomekl River but went back to England during the Boer War. In Britain he captained a ferry between the main islands and the Isle of Man. It was at that time he met and married Elizabeth Holland. He brought her out to Canada in 1903.

Captain Watkin Williams and Elizabeth(Bessie)

Captain Watkin Williams and his wife Elizabeth(Bessie) owned and operated both the Crescent Lodge on the hill above the beach and Crescent Hotel on the beach.

Captain Williams built the Crescent Lodge in 1906 on a quarter section of land obtained from Ben Stevenson. The Lodge was located south of and behind the present gas stations on Crescent Road and 128th Street. The driveway to the Lodge ran approximately between the present service stations. The Lodge was the central gathering point for the residents of Crescent. It contained the Post Office. Mail was delivered from Elgin by horseback.

Crescent Lodge Post Mark

This post card, written by a lodge customer, displays the postmark of Crescent Lodge in August 1908.

Crescent Lodge 1906–1937

Crescent Lodge

The right wing of the building had previously been a bunkhouse used by road construction crews. In 1903 it was converted into a kitchen and a place where church services could be held. Guest sleeping accommodation was a pallet on the floor. Later a passageway attached it to the newly constructed residence and lodge(1906)(shown on the left). Bessie took in boarders to augment her farm income. Others who desired accommodation such as duck hunters, logging personal, construction workers, the local school teacher and summer beach visitors where all welcome at the lodge.

Crescent Lodge

The kitchen section along with the bunkhouse and the post office was destroyed by fire in the 1950's. This picture shows the lodge minus the kitchen and bunkhouse sections.

Crescent Lodge Barn

Providing livery services to visitors to the lodge became a very important function. It also was vital for a working farm. The barn was located south and west of the main lodge.

As property values rose in the 1970s a bulldozer razed the lodge and barn in 1978.

Crescent Hotel 1912 to 1949

With the coming of the Great Northern Railway in 1909 and improved ease of access to the beach Crescent quickly became a summer resort. Captain Williams' built the Crescent Hotel in 1912 on sea front property he had traded for a portion of his farm acreage. That lot is where the Crescent United Church now stands. The post office was moved from the Lodge to the Hotel during the summer months. The Lodge discontinued providing accommodation after the Hotel opened. The exception was boarding the local school teacher.

Hotel and peir

The Crescent Hotel was located at the foot of Beecher Street where the present Beecher Place is located.

In the early days, the only reliable way to get supplies into Crescent was by water or by rail. Roads left a lot to be desired. Crescent Road came down the bluff on Tullock Road down into the ravine and over a small bridge. The Crescent Hotel pier became a vital link. However, a winter storm in 1922 carrying logs and debris virtually destroyed the pier and it had to be taken down for safety reasons. The Red Roof store on the left later became George Gardiner's Store.

When the Hotel was first constructed it provided only the bare-board necessities of life. It had just two indoor flush toilets and one bath tub. Each room had a basin and a jug of cold water on the wash stand. A chamber pot was in a cupboard below. There was no central heating, no insulation, and no electricity. Only the special guest rooms had wallpaper. Each floor had a balcony and the stairway came down outside for easy access to the beach and the outside lavatories.

The ground floor of the hotel consisted of the dining room, guests lounge, store and post office. A veranda wrapped around the front and side of the hotel and provided tables and chairs where guest could sit and watch the crowds go by. The kitchen was built onto the back with a side veranda on which the cook's wood was piled in hopes it would dry out. The ground floor was heated by two fireplaces and a kitchen cook stove. There was no heating on the upper two floors. Oil lamps in wall brackets with reflectors provided light in each guest room. Due to the lack of necessary utilities such as running water, electricity and central heating, the hotel could only stay open for part of the year. Later Captain. Williams installed an electric generator that provided one drop light for each room.

Beacher Street

Looking up Beecher Street two individual cabins associated with the Hotel were added on the property across O'Hara Lane. Behind the two hotel cabins is Dick McBride's Store. Later to be operated by Mr. Ameors and still later by Pop Taylor.

The hotel opened on the 24th of May and closed on Labour Day. From the day it opened it was always full. In 1925 Bessie decided that the hotel needed a British atmosphere so she brought relatives out from England to staff it. These included two of Bessie's sisters, Mr. and Mrs. Berry, one nephew and a post-mistress, Miss Bond. Mr. and Mrs. Jack Berry were proficient entertainers. May played the mandolin and Jack the piano. They provided summer entertainment for the Hotel guests. Bessie supervised the Hotel operations and the Captain moved between the Lodge and the Hotel.

The Crescent Lodge produced most of the food used by the hotel. There were pigs which ate the slops that turned into ham and bacon, chickens for eggs and chicken dinners. There were cows for milk, cream and butter. A large orchard provided fresh fruit. A garden for a variety of vegetables and a big gooseberry patch for jam and jellies.

Hotel menu

The menu of the Crescent Hotel reflected the sea food and farm produce available to the Chinese cook. This menu was for the renovated Cates hotel.

Willam's Family

In this picture Captain Williams is celebrating the opening of the 1925 season with the relatives who would be helping to run the hotel. To the right of the Captain are Bessie's sisters Fannie Greenwood and Annie McAra. May Berry is on the right.

Hotel Staff

As part of the Hotel's seasonal opening, the staff took part in opening celebrations. Bessie Williams is 2nd from the right. Mabel Holland is pouring tea. She would later become Mrs. Stuart Stevenson of Elgin.

Hotel porch Bessie Williams

This was the side porch of the hotel looking towards the water. Bessie Williams and her dog are enjoying the porch of the hotel.

Hotel's Store Hotel's Store

The Hotel Store carried most requirements for visitors and beach residents. The Post Office is on the left in each picture.

May Berry and another bather

May Berry and another bather in the swimming costumes of the 1920's. They are standing on the Hotel porch.

Captain Williams sold the Hotel to Captain J.A. Cates in 1928. The hotel was extensively remodeled for the 1929 season. 1929 saw Crescent get electric power, a reliable safe water system, and improved road access as Surrey cut the road into the bluff and filled the ravine. This provided much better and safer access for the many cars beginning to fill the roads. However, the depression years were not as financially rewarding as the Roaring 20's. By 1932 the Cates Hotel had gone into bankruptcy and a Bank took over. Throughout the remained of the depression years a number of owners operated the hotel.

Cates Hotel Cates Hotel

J.A. Cates was the owner of a shipbuilding and tug boat company. Unfortunately he purchased the Crescent Hotel and extensively renovated it just as the Great Depression hit. Mr. Cates owned the hotel from 1928 to 1932.

Jack Berry recalls: "During the peak of the Hotel's operation during 1931-32, the hotel complex consisted of two floors of guest rooms, a hotel annex and two rental cottages which totalled thirty three guest rooms in all. Besides the dining room, on the ground floor there was the post office and general store, an ice cream and milk shake counter with an outside serving wicket, and a real-estate and manager's office. Attached to the building was a fresh meat, fish and farm produce market. Across the lane was a Home Gas Service Station, hot dog stand and hotel parking lot. I served ice cream, hot dogs, pumped gas, packed in wood and coal, washed dishes and looked after the store at different times. Parking cars on the lot on a Sunday was another of my duties."

Immediately behind the Crescent Hotel was the service station. Gas and oil and minor repairs could be obtained here. This picture was taken during one of the rare heavy snow falls in Crescent Beach.

Jack Berry provided this picture and his recollection of the service station.

The Crescent Service Station was a Home Gas Service Station. Home gas was a popular brand because every Sunday night during the 20s, the Home Gas Band gave a concert on the radio which everybody listened to. I can even remember the name of the lead trumpet player, Tug Wilson. The gas station only operated for two years with a mechanic on duty during the summer months. The majority of repairs were flat tires and there were plenty of them in those days. Horses were still around and most flats were caused by horseshoe nails. After management couldn't afford to pay a mechanic only gas and oil were available.

The Crescent Hotel was destroyed by fire in January 1949. It was not rebuilt. The lot remained empty until Surrey built Beecher Place on the site.

Beecher Place Beecher Place

Beecher Place was built on the site of the Crescent Hotel at the foot of Beecher Street

Captain and Bessie

After the sale of the Crescent Hotel the Captain and Bessie retired but continued to operate the Lodge as a farm. This picture shows Captain Williams and Bessie in their retirement years. The Captain passed away in 1934 and Bessie in 1948. Bessie continued to work the farm until she sold it in 1937.

Crescent United Lynchgate Plaque

Bessie Williams is dedicating a lychgate adorned with a plaque in front of the Crescent United Church. The Plaque was in memory of Captain Watkin Williams 1853–1934. The plaque disappeared sometime during the 1950's.

Next Page: Crescent Legion 240

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