On March 8th 2017, AHS continued our 2017 Speaker Series with Ken Purvis, Museum Coordinator of Montgomery’s Inn Museum.
Ken started his presentation by examining the importance of inns and how they shaped the development of Canada. With European settlement on the rise in the 19th century, people would need a place to stay as they made their way to their settlements. With the development of quicker modes of transportation (such as railways, and later the automobile), there was less demand for inns every few kilometers on your travel route. In addition to sleeping quarters, inns were also used as restaurants, meeting places and even post offices!
The property where Montgomery’s Inn sits was originally part of the Township of Etobicoke. Settlement was encouraged in this area in the early 19th century to create a ‘buffer’ zone between the Mississauga First Nations and Toronto. The land was originally settled on a 30 year lease by a man named Henry Jackson. Records indicate that the property changed hands in 1830, when a man named Thomas Montgomery purchased the land. After applying for an inkeeper’s license, Montgomery built an inn on the property. The house operated as an inn until 1855, when it was closed down and used as a rental property. Ownership of the Inn has changed throughout the years, until it was purchased by the Etobicoke Historical Society, and made into a museum in 1975.
Ken also explained the common misconception that Montgomery’s Inn was the site of the Battle of Montgomery’s Taven as part of the 1837 Rebellion. In reality, there were actually 2 Montgomery’s (of no relation), who both ran inns/taverns. John Montgomery tavern, which was located at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto was the site of the battle. Thomas Montgomery, who ran Montgomery’s Inn in Etobicoke joined the militia as a result of the 1837 Rebellion.