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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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ARCHER, PETER (1867-1924)

ARCHER, PETER, stagecoach operator and hotel keeper; b. Tracadie, N.B., 13 Sep 1867, s/o John B. Archer and Hélène Légère; m. 1893, Mary Lavigne, of Bathurst, N.B.; d. Chatham, 17 Mar 1924.

"Pierre Archer" of Tracadie acquired the former Torryburn House in Chatham around 1896 and opened it up as the Riverview Hotel. From the start, he was regularly accused of being in violation of the Canada Temperance Act, and by 1898 he was in deep financial trouble as well. In July of that year he was forced to assign for the benefit of his creditors, but he somehow managed to continue in the business field.

In 1900 Archer was awarded the mail contract for the Chatham-Tracadie route. The contract stipulated that one trip was to be made each way daily except Sundays, a distance of fifty-four and a half miles. He put two new hacks on the road, one of which left from each end of the route at 7:00 a.m. These vehicles, which also carried passengers, were equipped with protective side curtains to keep out the weather and were said to be the most comfortable stagecoaches ever brought into service on New Brunswick roads.

In 1906 John McDonald & Co. began excavation work for a new hotel for Archer. The four-storey structure, which had the first poured cement foundation in Chatham, was built over the next two years. It had telephones and steam radiators in all fifty of its rooms and private baths in some of them. Named the Hotel Touraine, it was officially opened on 5 May 1908. To celebrate the occasion an elaborate dinner was staged by the proprietor, for which 200 tickets were sold at a dollar each. During the evening, McEachern's Orchestra played "an excellent program of music," while "the guests thoroughly inspected the new hotel and were charmed by its up-to-date and luxurious appointments." Chatham now had a establishment on par with the Hotel Miramichi, which Thomas Foley had erected in Newcastle three years previously. The Touraine's proprietor had the advantage of being bilingual, and his was the only business on the Miramichi to carry the words ici en parle français in its advertisements.

Archer's "enterprise and pluck" were much admired in Chatham, but it was apparent from the start that he lacked the financial resources needed to pay for and operate the hotel. Soon after it opened, therefore, a stock company, Hotel Touraine Ltd, was organized to take it over. Shares were sold to the public in 1909, and a board of directors was elected which bought the hotel, of which Archer was afterwards managing director. The president of the company was James L. Stewart, but the person with the main financial interest in it was John McDonald, to whom the company was indebted for nearly $20,000 in unpaid construction and furnishing costs. When McDonald demanded his money in 1914, the hotel was sold again and turned over to a new leasee. This marked the end of Archer's period of prominence in the hotel business in Chatham.

Archer was a director of the Miramichi Exhibition Association when incorporation was sought in 1902, and he later grew a ten-acre field of potatoes annually for the Hotel Touraine. He was a skilled curler and bowler and prided himself more on his accomplishments in these activities than in the business sphere. In 1914 he gave the Archer Cup as a curling trophy for the North Shore clubs. He and his wife, Mary Lavigne, were members of the Catholic church. When he died in 1924, at age fifty-six, he was survived by his wife and an adopted daughter.

Sources

[b] church records (Tracadie) [m] official records [d] Advocate 18 Mar 1924 / Advance 28 Jul 1898, 14 Dec 1899, 26 Jun 1902; Advocate 18 May 1904, 29 Apr 1908, 14 Jul 1908; Commercial World 8 Feb 1951; Daily Gleaner 2 Dec 1914; Leader 26 May 1993; Martin; World 1 May 1909, 6 Nov 1909, 17 Nov 1909, 11 Dec 1909, 22 Jan 1913, 7 Jun 1913, 10 Jan 1914


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