Heritage Photo: Balmoral Hotel

This picture was taken in the office inside the Balmoral Hotel which was simply known as the Billings Hotel in the beginning. The original owner was John (or Josh) Billings (c1850-1925) whose wife was Mary Daly (c1861-1947).  This picture was shared with me by the late Bernice Billings decades ago, and her husband is in the picture, second from the right. Above from left: Gordon Wernham, Alice Wernham (Sidler), Stasia Dunnigan (Billings), Jackie Billings, John Dunnigan.

Perhaps someone can hazard a guess as to when the picture was taken. Is the big chair that Stasia is sitting on still in the hotel? A drawing by F.J. Ritza depicting a scene from the 1912 sinking of the local Mayflower is not in the photograph.  It had been featured in “Believe It or Not” showing how a dead man saved three.  Three commercial travellers used the coffin to drift to a nearby island. So, is that artwork still on the wall in the Balmoral?

This might be a good time for people to share some stories from the past about the hotel or the people featured in the photograph. Readers can use the Reply section below to submit comments or email the information to madvalleycurrent@gmail.com

Note to our readers: If you are interested in having a picture and story featured in The Madawaska Valley Current, please submit the information to Bob Corrigan at madvalleycurrent@gmail.com (subject Heritage Photos) or mail your photo to Bob c/o The Current at PO Box 1097, Barry’s Bay K0J 1B0 (originals will be returned).


  1. Joanne (Billings) Olsen

    My great aunt Stasia Dunnigan died in 1963 and based on my memories of her and photos of my Dad Jack Billings I would guess the photo was taken in the early to mid 1950’s. Stasia is sitting in one of two large chairs in the lobby of the hotel . The one she is seated in was a rocker. The other would have been a straight back chair and would have been to the left of the Wernham’s. As kids we always felt quite regal sitting in those chairs. It became a tradition to have family wedding photos taken in them. I believe at least one of the chairs is still in the hotel.

    • Eve-Marie Chamot

      Judging by the style of Ms Wernham’s dress and hair it would be ca 1945 to 1955 although I would lean to the late 1940s. However Mr Wernham is tieless and looks a bit casual in contrast to the formality of the other folks
      and that would say more early 1950s but the overall formality of dress was more typical of the 1940s. That appears to be an old-fashioned Victrola on the table in the center but it might have been part of a public-address system. That huge rocking chair was a type typically made in Quebec:- I bought one like it in 1975 for my mother’s 50th birthday. Notice also the wooden handles on the drawers of the solid but unornamented wooden office desk on which the Wernhams are sitting:- they seem very typical of the era from ~1918 to ~1958. Barry’s Bay was a bit old-fashioned with local clothing styles a bit behind the times so they might have still been dressing in 1940s’ styles into the early 1950s. Let’s split the difference and say “1950”. Btw, do we win a jar of jellybeans or something if we guess correctly?

  2. Samantha Feltmate

    We had our farewell party there! Very kind of the current owners to let us do that, we have so many fond memories of everyone. It is certainly a corner stone of town.

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