The Sweetsburg Hotel and other Landmarks- Sweetsburg 101



Photo courtesy –Cliff Taylor and Norma (Eldridge) Taylor— Could be The American Hotel as someone else thought that was converted into a hospital in 1910

It all began innocently I swear.  Cliff Taylor sent me photos of the Sweetsburg Hotel that his Mother had. How I got into Sweetsburg 101 is beyond me– but here are some fascinating details on a village I had no idea was incorporated as such.

From Lovell’s Gazetteer (1895)
“SWEETSBURG” is a thriving post village in Missisquoi co., Que., on the C.P.R., 57 miles south-east of Montreal. It is the chef-lieu of the district of Bedford, and contains 2 churches. Episcopal and Roman Catholic, court house and gaol (jail), 1 high school, 1 telegraph office, 1 tannery, 6 stores and 2 hotels. Pop. 303.”


Photo from the Cowansville Historical Society—Picture taken around 1930–9 years before the fatal fire.

Sweetsburg’s Municipal incorporation was the 1st of January 1875 and in 1964, Sweetsburg was incorporated into the municipality of Cowansville.

J. L. Hébert was the owner of the Sweetsburg House Hotel  from 1917 to 1932. This hotel was destroyed by a fire on May 15, 1939. If you look at the picture closely you can see exactly where is was situated as the left hand turn to Brome Lake is right after the white frame building.

Cliff Taylor’s Mother Norma (Eldridge) Taylor says her great grandfather owned that hotel at one time and his name was John Powers. Powers also later donated land for the  hospital. According to the 1897 Journal John Powers traded his farm for Pickle’s Hotel in Sweetsburg.

Actually there were two hotels and three stores in Sweetsburg. The proprietor of the former was *C. Kathan and the others respectively were owned by C. A. Gaylor, Seeley & Hurlburt and R. F. Gleason. Mr. D. Bowker was the owner of another grocery store in Sweetsburg.

Did you know that salmon were frequently caught in the south end of the Yamaska that passed through Sweetsburg? It also had a High School, a newspaper called The Times, a telegraph office and it was also the home of the local MPP Mr.O’ Halloran.

About 2 miles southeast of Sweetsburg is where the first Shufelt settled. William Shufelt immigrated from a place near Hudson, N. Y and settled in a small village outside of Sweetsburg that was called the “Scott Neighbourhood”.  Shufelt later moved to Dunham and then spent his last year in Brome where he died in 1810 where his ten children settled. *Peter Pickle and three of his children also settled in the area and other notables notes as I call them was that G.W. Sweet donated liberally to help finance the Sweetsburg Episcopalian (Anglican) church in 1857.


Photo courtesy –Cliff Taylor and Norma (Eldridge) Taylor


Photo courtesy –Cliff Taylor and Norma (Eldridge) Taylor

None of us can make out what it says on the sign, but Norma thinks this is the stage coach building. She also thinks that the two buildings were side by side. The stagecoach ran out of the hotel and she thinks there was a medical building beside the hotel.

Mail stages from Sweetsburg once connected with all the surrounding villages: They went to West Farnham and Knowlton and St Albans Vermont daily. Waterloo and Granby were tri-weekly and Iron Hill semi-weekly.

Most of the lawyers practised in Sweetsburg and the 16 Fenian prisoners captured on the Mississquoi Frontier were also tried at the court house before Judge Johnson in a special criminal session in December 1866. The Fenians had launched two raids across the American border into the United Province of Canada to initiate their long-threatened invasion of British North America. The attack proved unsuccessful and its leaders slipped back to the United States.

Canadian forces captured a substantial number of Fenian fighters, and in late 1866 and early 1867 these Fenian prisoners faced trial in Toronto and in Sweetsburg, Lower Canada. Twenty-five defendants were found guilty of capital charges, but not a single Fenian was put to death and by 1872 every Fenian prisoner in the Kingston Penitentiary had been set free. Most of the Fenians were discharged because of lack of evidence, and only two of them received a death sentence that was never carried out.


Photo courtesy –Cliff Taylor and Norma (Eldridge) Taylor- Norma thinks this is the Reiter house across from the church in Sweetsburg


erez (5).jpg

The District Courthouse and  jail was built in 1860 making Sweetsburg a place of importance and giving its growth a sudden and powerful impact. The jail and courthouse were connected and were built of stone. A well known escape was documented between. J. B. Brazeau and Elzéar Brazeau, who had been sentenced to 6 months in prison each and they were able to regain their freedom from that jail.They had been sent into the kitchen of the governor to do some work, and enjoying a moment where they were not monitored, they actually left by the front door.


Mur de clôture de la cours des prisonniers à Sweetsburg L. Fontaine . – 1947-Ville de Cowansville


The Hangar and the warehouse of the palace of justice-prison of Sweetsburg l. Fountain. – 1947-Ville de Cowansville

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Cartes postales (25 741)–CP 031145 CON–N° de notice : BANQ 1903-1905


Ferme de Maurice Hallé à Sweetsburg J.P. Lettre . – 1943-Ville de Cowansville


Maison de Moïse Rousseau, rue Principale, Sweetsburg-Ville de Cowansville

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CP 029319 CON N° de notice :0004302110 BANQ


Some of the business people of Sweetsburg in the late 1800s. 

(The following are notes taken by Harry Shufelt from The Cowansville Observer)-from

Ville de Cowansville 

G. H. Sweet’s hotel

H. Cutler, in the Spring 1870, bought the hotel owned some years ago by G. H. Sweet. Lately, M. R. Bowker refit and built additions. On Sept. 18, 1870 opened to public, main portion of old building moved some 20 feet from road, added a new wing of 30 x 55 two stories high, lower part divided for dining room, kitchen, upper bedrooms. His house offers excellent accommodation for fifty guests and his barns and outhouses are large and commodious. The new hotel is a great improvement and marks an era in hotel life here (Sweetsburg) (September 13, 1870)

*Peter Pickle’s hotel-farm

Peter Pickle took over hotel-farm from William Kathan, took in spring and proceeded at once to remodel it by an addition of 60 x 30 under which (…..the rest of the notes are unreadable…) (October 21, 1870)

*American House

New Year’s Ball, American House, Cowansville – A fine new Hall has been built in connection with the American House, which is large and accommodious, and surpasses anything of the kind in the District of Bedford – J. Rooney, proprietor (December 9, 1870)

*From Le Progress de L’Est–20 sep 1910
Sweetsburg – the old American House, which was once a popular hotel and maybe one of the oldest settlements of the genus in our cantons, has just been converted into a hospital. This hotel was very busy before the construction of railways, where we used to drink and to eat to travellers.


Ville de CowansvilleWhat we do know about the Sweetsburg Bakery is that in 1930 it was owned by A. Racine (nicknamed “Bébé” Racine). Two years later, in 1932, Racine left Sweetsburg and came to Cowansville where he opened a bakery on South Street, later bought by Amédée Bessette who was followed by Albert Levert. In the 1936 Directory, there is no mention of the Sweetsburg Bakery.


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

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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