The Marks Bros-Tales of the Queen’s Hotel



Original Marks Brothers Poster – now in the third floor exhibit at the Perth Museum.    From left to right: Back – Joseph, Thomas, Robert, Alex, Earnest : Front – John, McIntyre

Did you know we had our very own version of the Marks brothers? Not Harpo, Groucho and Chico. I mean Joseph, Thomas, Robert, Alex, Earnest, John and McIntyre  a dapper looking dramatic company of Perth, Ontario-based brothers and their wives who travelled across North America bringing Vaudeville-style shows to entertainment-starved towns, both small and large. Ernie’s wife Kitty also performed with the group but the main attraction was Robert’s wife, May Bell Marks. Most of them stayed at the Queen’s hotel in Carleton Place and if you have followed my other blogs see related reading below) I have written about several of them.


Photo by Linda Seccaspina from the Queen’s Hotel Registrar at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

According to Amazon. com The Marks Brothers  formerly known as The Emma Wells Co. may well have been the most remarkable theatrical family in Canadian history. A phenomenon on the vaudeville circuit, the seven brothers left the farm and took to the boards and the footlights throughout the latter part of the 19th century and into the 1920s.


Photo by Linda Seccaspina from the Queen’s Hotel Registrar at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


From 1870- to the 1920 the brothers from Christie Lake, near Perth played to an estimated eight million Canadians, as well as to sizeable audiences in the United States. Their road shows, largely melodramas and comedy, kept audiences crying, booing, laughing and cheering until movies sounded the death knell for touring repertory companies. They played at our local Opera hall which was inside the Carleton Place Town Hall. It used to be a one week;s stand in most towns that they played with May A. Bell Marks playing the heroine’s role.


Photo by Linda Seccaspina from the Queen’s Hotel Registrar at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


From all about Perth— Dec 27, 1923, Toronto – The Marks Bros Dramatic company presenting ‘The Sleeping Beauty’, an old English pantomime.



Marks Family of Christies Lake

The early history of Christies Lake is lost to posterity.  “The Killarney of Canada” was the name given to it by the late Thomas Marks, the little bit of heaven set in the heart of Lanark County.  It is situated 12 miles southwest of Perth in S. Sherbrooke.  If there is a “Christie” who settled there and perpetrated his name in this lake no information is obtainable.  The earlier known settlers in the area were the Thomas Marks family and theWilliam H. Patterson family.  Thomas Marks was the father of the seven Marks Brothers who became known from one end of America to the other in the theatrical world.  Robert Marks, the eldest brother, was the founder and manager of their enterprise which varied from solo tours and duos, trios and troupe entertainment all of which was in great demand by theatrical managers during the great era of vaudeville.  One of the most outstanding landmarks on the shores of the lake is the old Marks homestead which is still in fairly good shape and as one ambles through the rooms one can visualize the Marks brothers practicing for a winter tour.  This homestead is a great tribute to Canada’s greatest contribution to the vaudeville stage and the Marks brothers.


At the Queens and Leland hotel yards, agents were hiring teams of horses in December for winter work at Ottawa Valley lumber shanties.

1893 Almonte Gazette

Comedy Company Coming. “ The Marks Bros’. Musical Comedy Co. opened a week’s engagement in the opera house Tuesday night to a good audience. Tom Marks does not change, but is the same funny Tom as of yore, and his spontaneous wit as Dan McGinty in McGinty’s T.*oubles produces the laughter which ripplos unceasingly from curtain rise until its fall. Miss Emma Gertrude, who played the part of Ward No. 1, is a very pretty girl with a remarkably good controlled voice. The rest of the company are very good, and the show went with a snap and vim that is pleasant to see.”—Smith’s Falls News. The Marks Co. will play in the Town Hall, Almonte, for one week—Sept. 19 to 25—under the auspices of the Citizens’ Band



Perth Remembered–ARLIEDALE INN, CHRISTIE LAKE–This building was the original family farm house of the famous Marks Brothers of Christie Lake. When one of the brothers, Tom retired from the theatre he returned to Christie Lake and renovated the farm house into a hotel and named it Arliedale Inn, after his daughter Arlie.

Travelling Shows on the Rural Stage

Peg O My Heart — Gracie Mark’s Belt

What’s Happening at Christie Lake June 23, 1899

The Killarney of Canada in Lanark County

And So They Danced in 

The Story of Ms. Kitty Marks

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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