Potton White Sulphur Springs, Que Quebec Canada-BANQ-CP 15995 CON–0002645701–1926
I Swear it’s True! Part 3 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER
In 1828 Bolton Spring, noted for its medicinal properties, was discovered in North Potton, Quebec on the farm of William Green by a thirsty farmhand. Its value as a remedial agent wasn’t realized until 1844 when it was used in a case of scrofula. Scrofula was a form of tuberculosis of the neck, and when word got out about the cure people came to drink from this miracle water.
Local legend goes that 14 year-old Nathan Banfill discovered these waters while looking for a drink at the bottom of a cliff at the base of Peeve Mountain. Little did Banfill know that such a huge gush of sulphur water from three springs would become popular in the future and people would come to enjoy its benefits for miles.
I remember as a little girl my grandfather would take me to this small covered bubbling spring out in the middle of nowhere in the Eastern Townships, and the air smelled like rotten eggs. The family would fill up a couple of milk jugs with the smelly water, but I wanted no part of it. I had no idea that it was similar to what young Nathan Banfill discovered.
One must remember that in 1830 the north of Potton Township was slow to be settled, the local roads were scarcely passable, and the area very uneven for people to come and visit the future spa culture. It wasn’t until 1862 that the upper class folks came to enjoy what C.F. Haskell from Stanstead had named Mount Pleasant Springs. After several variants of Haskell’s title for the area were forgotten, Potton Springs became the official name.
In 1875, the Potton Springs Hotel was built by ancestor N.H. Green and word spread internationally about the sulphur waters’ supposed healing properties. Eastern Townships historian Gerard Leduc has written that there was possibly another structure before Green’s building as it seems he might have built his first building on top of a former field stone foundation. Merely two years later, the new hotel took advantage of the extension of the railway line of the Missisquoi and Black Rivers Valley Company. The hotel was purchased by J. A. Wright, who supplied it with electricity from a generator and seeing the potential of his investment opportunity, enlarged it in 1912 to accommodate 75 guests.
CLIPPED FROMThe GazetteMontreal, Quebec, Canada08 Dec 1925, Tue • Page 10
At a rate of two dollars per day visitors afflicted with liver, stomach, kidney or urinary tract ailments were among those who could expect help and “female diseases” were reported to be greatly benefited by the use of the waters and baths. It was in the right price range for my mother’s side of the family, and they frequented it often until it burned down in the 1930s. It was the cure of all cures they said.
Three sulphur springs originated from a deep aquifer, and the waters were tapped from the mountain springs into a wooden tank and delivered to the hotel below only by gravity. Baths could be taken in a variety of forms, including shower, sitting, and spray, and word was even a pool fed by the springs was available.
Sulphur baths were given for the care of rheumatism or eczema and sulphuric mud packs were applied to troublesome joints. The day at a sulphur spa would begin by drinking as much water as they could, followed by breakfast. After lunch, the guests would take a nap followed by four o’clock tea and a walk in the woods celebrating the flora and fauna with the nightingales heard overhead. Well, that was the story I heard.
My Grandfather told me stories of Petroglyphs carved on rocks and the sacred Masonic engravings on the protruding stone above a spring including several names and freemason symbols.They say people drank it, bathed in it, and even brought it home similar to my Grandparents who did the same in the 50s from their own secret spring.
The spa flourished and the McMannis Hotel which was situated at the corner of Mountain Road and Route 243, did an excellent business with the seasonal patrons who journeyed to Potton Springs. Business began to decline at the end of the 1920s, during the Great Depression. In 1923 rumours were so abundant that Typhoid Fever in Mansonville was caused by the water at Potton Springs, when in fact they had gotten Typhoid from their own water.
CLIPPED FROMThe Montreal StarMontreal, Quebec, Canada23 Jun 1923, Sat • Page 37
J. A. Wright finally sold the establishment to F. Larin in 1930, but a fire, (possible arson was mentioned) gutted the hotel in 1934. They say there isn’t much left of Potton Springs today, and only a few deteriorating remaining foundations have been left exposed to the elements. The foundation made from Lennoxville bricks remains, but even the 6-7 metre Potton Springs Hotel sign that was found by the new owners was stolen in 1990.
Potton Springs is now private property and moments you try to put into words no longer exist. When I look at old photos it’s pretty overwhelming, memories are now devastation, and there are no longer the original buildings to speak for themselves.
Someone asked me if I had ever been there and seen the remains. Once again,I only have stories from my Grandfather and if I had a time machine a million memories would now flash through my mind. But, we can never go back, and now the only clues to what happened at Potton Springs only remain in photographs, the carvings among the rocks and the whispers of the wind.
As a final memory I was made to drink a glass a day of that water from my Grandfather’s secret Spring. Do I remember the wretched taste of hard-boiled eggs? No, my memory dwells more fondly of the fabulous Lemon Pie!
CLIPPED FROMThe GazetteMontreal, Quebec, Canada06 May 1922, Sat • Page 7
From Potton Springs Go FUND ME
CLIPPED FROMThe GazetteMontreal, Quebec, Canada03 Sep 1931, Thu • Page 5
I Swear it’s True! Part 1 2 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina
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