The E. B. Eddy Residence
The residence of Ruggles Wright, Philemon's son, was located on the site of the current Holiday Inn Plaza La Chaudière Hotel. It was a large masonry house, with two storeys measuring 11 by 12 metres, and two one-storey wings, 5.5 by 8 metres. The house must have been impressive: it had 35 windows and 29 doors; the front door had a semicircular transom and lateral windows. The facade was probably similar to that of the Symmes House or the Columbia Farm. There were three staircases, a cement floor in the cellar, and sheds for wood and vehicles; in the yard, there was a large masonry stable, 15 by 33 metres. There was also a one-storey masonry house, 7.6 by 8.6 metres, reserved for the cooks and boarders. Finally, there was a third masonry house, occupied by E. B. Eddy, and measuring 9 by 11 metres, with two wings. Ruggles Wright called Eddy's home "the match house", and popular history referred to it as a shack. It was a very large shack!
Ruggles died on August 18, 1863, leaving his substantial property to his granddaughter, Florence Mildred Wright. Florence was the younger daughter of Ruggles' son Dalhousie Wright and Georgina Harrisson, both deceased. She sold the property to the wife of E. B. Eddy, Zaida Diana Arnold, sometime before Zaida's death in 1893. At some point, Ruggles' house was replaced by a new brick house, with an Italian-style tower, but it burned down in the fire of 1900. On the site an even more impressive house was built, which would later become the Standish Hall Hotel.
Ezra Butler Eddy was born on August 22, 1827 near Bristol, Vermont, but had relocated to Hull by 1854. He had been married since 1846 to Zaida D. Arnold. Between 1847 and 1854, they had had two sons and a daughter. The boys died young, but Eddy's daughter, Ella Clarissa, survived him. Was it the death of his sons that moved Eddy to come to Hull and pursue the manufacture of matches, a business he had started in Burlington, Vermont in 1851? Possibly. A potential source of raw material at advantageous prices would have been another incentive for crossing the border.
When he settled in Hull in 1854, Eddy rented premises in Ruggles Wright's trip hammer workshop. A world-famous industry grew from these humble beginnings. In Eddy's biography in the Biographical Dictionary of Canada, Odette Vincent-Domey writes, "He came with modest means but an ample supply of boldness, perseverance, and opportunism." When Ruggles Wright died in 1863, Eddy was a tenant in several industrial buildings on the Chaudière Falls. He bought the properties from Wright's heirs over the next few years, and by 1875 had acquired almost all of Wright's former real estate.
In spite of the fires that repeatedly ravaged his factories and his house, Eddy persevered. He was an astute and canny industrialist whose success during this era of industrial capitalist expansion was due, in part, to his involvement in municipal and provincial politics. From 1871 to 1875, he was both mayor of Hull Township and a Representative in the Quebec Legislative Assembly, under the banner of the Conservative Party. He tabled the bill creating the City of Hull in 1875. Besides running his factories, he was an administrator of the Canada Central Railway Company.
Eddy died in Hull on February 10, 1906, at the age of 78. He was buried in Bristol, near his birthplace. In his day, his contemporaries admired his tenacity and his skill as an administrator. Although he was an uncompromising employer, he was seen as a benefactor of the Ottawa Valley population. He definitely played a major role in the development of the city of Hull, where his company was the main employer for more than a century.
His principal heir was Jennie Grahl Hunter Shirreff, whom he had married in Halifax on June 27, 1894. As the widow was living in their house on Aylmer Road, she sold the house in town to George Henry Millen in June 1908. Millen died in 1928, and the following year, the house was purchased by hotelkeepers who formed a company, Hotel Standish Hall Inc. The main shareholder in the company was James Maloney, who also owned the Chez Henri Hotel. He transformed the beautiful Eddy residence into a hotel. What began as a luxury establishment lost its lustre over the years. It was damaged by fire in 1951, restored, and finally demolished in the early 1970s to make room for the current hotel.