Stokes Bay Hotels of Yesteryear

There are many different stories about the hotels of yesteryear in Stokes Bay as to their locations, builders, owners, etc. The recollections of the late Johnny “Alex” Smith may be as accurate as any.
Smith said he was born in a log house in 1882 that was situated to the left of Dealey’s store. Also, to the right of the store can be seen the hotel that was known as “The Yellow House”. It was painted yellow and was always known as “The Yellow House”. The location would be across the road from where Jimmy Willaim’s home was located.
In telling about the hotels Smith said that John Gibson built a hotel near the entrance to the cemetery road. He recalled that whisky and beer was sold there. There was also a lockup for unruly customers – a small building that had no windows. Gibson sold the place to Dan Smith who ran it for a time until unfortunately it burned down. That was in 1900.
“The Yellow House” was built by Alex Smith or some say Dan Smith. Alex Smith ran it for a time but left there to go take a job at Flower Pot Island as light keeper.
Others who kept hotel there included John Brown of Wiarton. Alex Fletcher was another owner or keeper. Doc Knight, a veterinarian, had the place for some years and he built the large frame barn that was across the road from the hotel.
Frank Bryan of Colpoy’s Bay bought the Yellow House in 1915. A note in the Wiarton Echo said “Welcome to Frank Bryan who will keep a good temperance house”. As the timber trade was waning and World War 1 starting there wasn’t enough business for hotels anymore.
The last person to try the Yellow House as a hotel was a man by the name of Jack Barber. He was a single man and had to hire cooks and other help. He named the place “The Rustic Inn” a sign across the frost said “Meals and Beds”. This writer remembers as a child delivering milk to Mr. Barber. The furnishings were rather sparse even to our eyes. In the dining room was an old phonograph and we recall seeing a young couple trying to dance to its rather scratchy refrains. However, as we have noted, there wasn’t enough business to keep it going as a hotel. Among some who lived there included Jh McLennan who had the post office there 1916 to 1919. Seymour Hawke was a tenant, as well as Charlie McDonald and Allan McLay. There may have been others.
The days of Stokes Bay hotels were over and The Rustic Inn fell prey to fire and it burned to the ground. Jack Barber who was still living there barely excaped with his life.
Jack Barber was known as a scholarly type well versed in politics and news of the day was not suited to hotel life such was the opinion of those who knew him.

Pages 82 - 84 of Old Timers’ Tales
A History of Stokes Bay and Area
(Bruce Peninsula)
By Helene Scott