Joseph McArthur [ 1838 (Approx.) - 1892 ]

Joseph McArthur was a land owner, and a man of many business interests and projects, all of which were of major importance to the village from the late 1860s until his premature death in 1892. He began his career as a tavern-keeper and first appears in D&B in January 1869; He was also issued a tavern license in March 1869 by the Fenelon Township Council [By-Law 159 passed 1 March 1869]. Joseph is listed in the 1871 Census as a 30 year-old, Ontario-born tavern-keeper of Irish background. McArthur and his brother [Alexander] owned the Quebec and Ottawa House Hotel although they were not the proprietors. When the Quebec and Ottawa House Hotel burned to the ground on April 16th, 1874, McArthur immediately started plans to rebuild. The McArthur House Hotel rose from the ashes and opened for business in December 1874 [CP 25 Dec 1874; 3]. Alexander McArthur was the first of several proprietors.

The McArthur Brothers also operated a Shingle mill on the river just as the river turned and widened out into Sturgeon Lake (see Plan of Fenelon River [map]). The mill is mentioned in Fenelon Township Bylaw 204 (passed 14 March 1873) and appears in D&B in July of that year. Fire destroyed the mill in October 1874 [CP 16 Oct 1874; 3], but McArthur continued to own the land and take an interest in its management.

When his store buildings to the north of the hotel and on the west side of Colborne St. burned in March 1876, McArthur spent the rest of the year building a new range of stores. He owned the Francis St. West property on which the Sash & Door Factory operated [1878-1880] and, after it burned, leased the site to William McKeown who operated a furniture factory there from 1884 to 1902[?]. In the Spring of 1885 McArthur purchased the S.S. Coboconk, and after a re-painting and refitting, returned it to the waters as “The Swan” [Suggitt; 80]. The boat was used to transport freight and passengers to Coboconk. Joseph McArthur also served on the first village council in 1875 [Kirkconnell [47]].

Grain occupied much of McArthur’s time in the 1880s. The directories record his dealings in grain as early as 1882, and the Ontario Directory for 1888/89 lists him as a flour mill operator. McArthur along with William Webster was one of several grain dealers in the village by mid-decade. In the last year of his life D&B lists him as an “agent”, but does not specify what he was doing. Perhaps he was still dealing in grain. No profession was listed in the 1891 Census.

For a man so well known and so active, and with such extensive holdings, we know very little about Joseph McArthur. Even the Gazette had little to say when he died in December 1892:

“At Fenelon Falls on Wednesday, Dec’r 7th, Mr. Joseph McArthur, aged 54 years 9 months” [FFG 9 Dec 1892; 5]3.

485 Variant entry: Arthurs

486 In September 1889 McArthur was arguing with the Village Council about the closure of the road to his old mill site [FFG 20 Sept 1889; 4].

487 See also Tatley; 79-80.

488 The only other mention of the event is in the “Personals”: Mr. & Mrs. Alex. McArthur of Lindsay, Mrs. Thomas Marrs of Toronto, Mrs. Kennedy of Ops, Mrs. Coulter of Toronto, Mrs. Fallis and her son, Mr. John Fallis, of Bethany, Mrs. Charles McLean of Toronto and other relatives of the late Joseph McArthur are here, and will attend his funeral this afternoon” [Friday] [FFG 9 Dec 1892; 4]. The Canadian Post did somewhat better: “Obituary. A prominent citizen passed away last week in the person of Mr. Joseph McArthur at the age of 54 years. Mr. McArthur was for years a member of the county council and held many public positions. Much of the progress of the village is owing to Mr. McArthur’s enterprise. His funeral was conducted by the Masons.” [CP 16 Dec 1892; 1].

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