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History

The beginning
Many of the first settlers around North Hatley were United Empire Loyalists, mostly farmers, who left New England in the years following the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. Several fine farmhouses of this period still exist in the village. Manoir Hovey was named after one of the most noteworthy of these settlers, Colonel Ebenezer Hovey, who was granted a large tract of land by the Crown in 1785, directly across the lake from the inn.

In large measure, however, the village owns most of its great houses and particular architecture to the first summer people - aristocrats, captains of industry and large landowners, mostly Americans from south of the Mason-Dixon Line. For some time after the American Civil War (1861-1865) many wealthy southerners renounced New England (Yankeeland) as a summer holiday destination and continued further north into Canada, some by private railway car. Rumour has it that many drew their blinds in passing through New England.

These new arrivals brought their lifestyles with them - butlers and servants, horses and carriages, and of course, the gentlemanly sports of golf, sailing and tennis. Around 1895 they started to build on the west side of the lake; their summer homes were large, many with over 15 rooms. The most splendid of all, on North Hatley's prime site, was The Birches, built as a summer home in 1900 by Henry Atkinson, owner of Georgia Power in Atlanta. The home he had built for himself, broad of verandah and white of pillar, was inspired by George Washington's home at Mount Vernon, Virginia and now lends its very considerable charm to Manoir Hovey. As a private estate, this grand house boasted its own stables and coach house, servants quarters and grand family rooms and even a private 9-hole golf course which was designed by Bobby Jones Sr., a friend of the Atkinsons. To this day, we still find very old golf balls in the woods, and remnants of the various holes poke through the underbrush.

The beginnings of the Manoir as an inn
The Atkinson family stopped coming to North Hatley in the 1940's and The Birches then changed hands a few times, before being converted into a prestigious inn in 1950 by Robert F. Brown, a Montrealer who had just graduated from Cornell Hotel School. Your hosts, Kathryn and Stephen Stafford, purchased the Manor from Robert Brown in 1979 and have been on site ever since. Continuous improvements have been made over the years, but always with the attempt to remember the origins and ambiance of this very special place. Today the 40 bedrooms at Manoir Hovey are installed not only in the main house, but also ingeniously fitted into the former servants' quarters, ice house, pump house, electric house and caretaker's residence. Many contain antiques that were purchased by Henry Atkinson himself. Many of the books in the library date from the Atkinson's residency.  The Tap Room, once the coach house sheltering Atkinson's collection of coaches, boasts a vast 10,000 brick fireplace which is one of 26 of varying sizes scattered throughout the inn. Sitting atop an antique shelf in the reception area is the Inn's celebrated haunted clock, which has been featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not. This Gothic style 80-day chimer is not in working order, but has been known to chime inexplicably when someone mentions Plumley Le Baron, an early North Hatleyite known for having worn a raccoon coat in the summertime.

North Hatley and its interests
In 1900, there were more than a dozen inns and hotels in North Hatley. One was the Glenn Villa with 365 rooms, which stood for only 7 years before burning to the ground in 1909. Over the years the Canadian establishment came to discover North Hatley and many of these "great houses" changed hands. To this day, however, an American summer colony continues to return.

Many locals still refer to the west side of the village as the "American Side". In more recent years, many of these homes have been winterized and reflect the year-round appeal of this resort village. Because of its southern exposure on Lake Massawippi and the steep hills rising from it on the north and west sides, this idyllic village enjoys an exceptional micro-climate and contains flowers and birds normally found in communities hundreds of miles to the south.

Today North Hatley is one of Québec's most picturesque villages and is a haven for artists and artisans, writers, theatre lovers and sporting people of all sorts. Its antique shops, art galleries, golf course, inns and summer theatre are widely supported by visitors and residents alike. Manoir Hovey remains North Hatley's only waterfront inn and is a wonderful oasis in itself and very convenient to exploring the area.