The Abbott Sisters Operating Maryboro Lodge
January 16, 2023
Isabella Abbott, niece Isabelle Kelly and Tillie Abbott on the front porch of Maryboro Lodge
Kate, Belle and Tillie Abbott were three sisters from a Hickory Beach farming family. Tillie worked in laundry at Peterborough’s Nicholls Hospital; Kate operated a bakeshop on Colborne Street, Fenelon Falls, and Tillie became a one-room school teacher. When their father (Henry) died, he left it in his will that his son William would help look after his unmarried sisters. They purchased Maryboro Lodge in 1913, to provide a way for the sisters to make a living.
The Abbott Sisters excelled in their new career, demonstrating a wonderful ability to befriend their guests, while Belle was remembered for her sense of humour. As devoted members of Fenelon Falls Baptist Church, they were very proper, which suited their clientele. Their first guest was the Presbyterian minister, Reverend Lord. Together they went to great lengths to make their guests comfortable. It was no easy job—for the entire period they operated Maryboro Lodge, they made do without running water!
Maryboro Lodge had a lot of offer. The village’s swimming area (aka the Trent Canal) was right in front of the building, and it was conveniently located relative to the downtown. Shaded by the centuries-old bur oak grove, the site had a long tradition of being a community gathering place. The Abbotts built upon the traditions of hosting church picnics in the grove, with regular afternoon teas, and lunches. Maryboro Lodge also boasted a grass tennis court.
Belle and Tillie carried on after their sister Kate died in 1922, but as they aged they found it hard to live by themselves over the winter, without central heating or insulation, so they went to stay with this sister Mary Kelly (married to Foster). They operated Maryboro until they moved to Waterman’s Nursing Home in Lindsay. Their nephew Milburn Kelly believed that the building should become a museum and transferred it to the village for $5000 on that condition.
To learn more about the history of Maryboro Lodge and the Oak Grove check out: