The original board and batten Stopping Place was built by Captain John Dennison approximately 1876 or 1877 and was probably called “Dennison House”. John had emigrated from Penrith, England in 1831 to Quebec City, then Montreal and Ottawa where he operated a distillery and eventually to this area in 1876.

The Inn was initially a wood board and batten style building and the Dennison’s operated it for many years. John and his family then moved to Opeongo Lake (in what is known today as Algonquin Park) and set up a home there. When Dennison left the Combermere area in early 1878, the hotel was purchased by the Hudson family and renamed it Hudson House. The Dennison and Hudson families were related – John’s daughter Elizabeth married John Charles Hudson, father of Captain Jack Hudson owner of the ill-fated steamer “Mayflower”. Elizabeth became the owner/operator of the hotel. A large dock was located on the shore of the Madawaska River in front of the hotel for the steamers Hudson, Mayflower, Ruby, Geneva, Tiger, E.L. Perkins and other steamers to load and unload passengers and cargo. You can still see the remains of the log dock structure in the water.

On Saturday afternoon August 5, 1911, a blaze started in a vacant room in the hotel burning it to the ground along with many other businesses and homes. The fire destroyed the Township hall, James Bros. General Store (where Frank Stafford later built his general merchants store and ultimately became Waddingtons General Store), Charles Dennison’s residence, the hotel stables, S. James’ tinsmith shop and the side-wheeler steamer “Hudson”, owned by Hal Hudson brother of Captain Jack Hudson. The hotel was rebuilt that same year (1911) as a three-story beige brick building with a men’s beverage room on the front side of the hotel.

In 1915 the three-story hotel partially burned again and was rebuilt as a two-story hotel, much the way it looks today. McGillivary (Gil) Waddington and wife Edith Bellisle lived and operated the hotel. Nan Hudson (single) lived with them as well as Gil’s mother until their death. Three daughters – Helen, Marion and Rita married and Edith continued to live there.

In 1959 when the modern curved, sloped, concrete bridge, (the first of its kind on Ontario), The Waddington’s General Store had to be demolished to make way for the new eastern approach to the new bridge. Waddington’s business was then relocated to part of the Hudson House. Lew Waddington continued to operate his general store until about 1970 when he decided to retire.

The building remained vacant for thirteen years from 1970 to 1983. Vagrants ransacked the building and some even lived upstairs without paying rent.

Sometime in the 1970’s Madonna House used the upstairs to sort clothing for needy people. Also during this same period, Toronto lawyer Lawrence Hass and John Nixey bought the property from Edith Waddington on the expectation of doing something with it but they went bankrupt and the property went up for sale.

In 1983, Mechthilde “Mecca” Theumen of Pembroke bought the business and extensive property from Nixey and Hass and in January 1985 commenced major renovations to the interior along with the construction of a new addition at the Mill St. entrance. In May 1986 she opened and operated a first class restaurant for fourteen years from 1986 to 2000. Mecca closed the restaurant in 2000 and started renovating the upstairs by converting the twelve guest rooms and one bathroom to three guest rooms, two private rooms and four bathrooms and turned the building into a Bed and Breakfast business, opening in 2001. It continues as a B&B to this day.

COMBERMERE HERITAGE WALK, A PROJECT BY THE COMBERMERE HERITAGE SOCIETY INC. –  2016