Old St. Andrews



The Algonquin and the CPR



In 1903 the Algonquin Hotel became part of the CPR hotel chain. Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, then President of the CPR, was the man behind the takeover of the Land Company's assets. Shaughnessy, his friend and former CPR president Sir William Van Horne, and other CPR men such as Charles Hosmer, had actually been vacationing in St. Andrews for some time and had built summer homes here. The acquisition of the Algonquin was aside from a business deal something akin to the creation of a CPR social club for these individuals. Over the next few decades St. Andrews became a premier seaside resort on the east coast as many wealthy Montreal people, many of them connected with the big railway company, travelled by train every summer to stay at or socialize at the Algonquin.

Shaughnessy and the CPR were good news for the hotel, as the railway company had deep pockets, and Shaughnessy put a lot of money into improving the former Land Company properties. Katy's Cove was dammed for the first time successfully, and a beach installed for Algonquin guests. The golf course at Joe's Point was expanded. The Algonquin itself had two large concrete wings added - one in 1910 along Prince of Wales Streets, ending with a high water tower (the hotel still used artesian wells) - and another in 1912 along the Carleton Street side, this one being mainly to enlarge the kitchen area. A string of four handsome cottages were erected along Prince of Wales Streets, an entertainment center nicknamed the "Casino" went up in 1913. In 1911 the former home of Henry Osburn, General Manager of the New Brunswick Railway at Indian Point was picked up by the CPR and turned into an annex to the Hotel called "The Inn."

In the winter of 1914 disaster struck when workmen tarring the roof accidentally set fire the Hotel. The conflagration was total. When the smoke cleared only the 2 concrete wings were left standing. The CPR rushed reconstruction through, however, and by the spring of 1915 the new Algonquin, built on the old footprint but resembling now the half-timbered look of a Tudor manor house, was reopened to the public. Appearances were deceiving. Great anti-fire precautions were now built in with self-closing fire doors and thick concrete walls to prevent a similar catastrophe in the future.

Additions continued through the next few decades. A large residence for staff was built along Carleton Street, which still stands, in 1917. Behind the Hotel the powerhouse, topped by a hugh smokestack, generated electricity for the Hotel, its cottages, select private homes near the hotel, and later power for the town in general. The Algonquin also was connected by its own waterline to Chamcook Lake, and by 1922 the Town itself tapped into this line.

The history of the hotel in the middle part of the century is an interesting one from a social point of view. The Montreal elite continued to built near the Hotel and to use the Algonquin as its private clubhouse, bringing down their horses and later automobiles by railcar, filling the hotel with steamer trunks every summer and motoring off every September. Business may not have been especially profitable at the Hotel. The CPR was willing to write off debt in its hotels, using them as advertising for its rail business. Business declined markedly after the Second World War, however, as airplane travel became accessible, and the east coast of Canada was abandoned for the mountains and spas of Europe. The end of the Algonquin as a CPR destination was in sight.