Historic Main Street

What did the main street of Arichat look like in 1935, over eighty years ago? Roughly in the center of the village stood the stately and unique Commercial House, a hotel servicing the needs of salesmen, businessmen, and travelers in general.

This fine establishment was the property of D’Auvergne (1865-1932) and Elizabeth (Crichton) Cutler (1869-1958) (married 1848) who purchased it, in the 1920s, from Phillip J. Fiott, a Jerseyman in the employ of the Robin, Jones, and Whitman firm.

There were three Cutler children: Hilda (1902-1993), Ralph (1899-1972), and Laura (1903-1972). The house has a symmetrical character, steeply pitched gable, and returning eaves that give it a New England colonial style. Its angular front windows and two-story front and back porches create a Gothic aura. The interior also contains unique characteristics such as a sliding wooden door separating the two main rooms, the marble fireplaces, the beautiful moldings, and the different types of glass. The kitchen serving the inn was located in the basement with a service entrance on the east side. The foundation is of block-cut stone fortress-like in size and weight. The house has approximately twenty inside doors all equipped with locks and all using the same skeleton key.

Edmund Power Flynn, born in 1828, built this impressive home in the 1840’s. Mr. Flynn, too, was quite impressive. His public service included: MLA, Richmond County, 1867 to 1874, Liberal-Conservative; Executive Council, without portfolio, 1867 to 1871; Commissioner of Crown Lands, 1871 to 1874; Member of Parliament, Richmond County, 1874 to 1882, and 1887 to 1891 (Mr. Flynn was widely considered one of the ablest orators in the House of Commons); Collector of Customs at Arichat from 1897 to the time of his death in 1900.

The house was then occupied by Dr. l’Esperance of Quebec, followed by J.A. Gillies, K.C., Barrister and Solicitor and federal representative for Richmond back in 1911. It was he who brought the first automobile to Ile Madame in that same year, and it was he who sold the property to Mr. Fiott.

The Cutlers continued to run the Commercial House into the mid-20th century. A few decades earlier they had become involved with the Isle Madame Telephone Co., Ltd. and later with Maritime Tel & Tel as the center for telephone service. It was a daughter, Laura, who oversaw this service, and she continued to do so until the dial system replaced the old switchboard in 1970; she died in 1972. The home was bought by Ed and Betty Robichaud in 1973 and declared a heritage property in 1989.

Continuing east on the waterside of the road was the home of William E. (d. 1936) and Alice (Samson) Madden (d. 1965 at age 67) who were married in 1916. Their children were Andrew (b. 1923), Connie (1917-2003), Arthur (b. 1918), Freddie (b. 1931), Davey (b. 1921), Gregory (b. 1928), Edward (1925-1999), Rosie (b.1920), Ann (b. 1933),and Maria (b.1936). Post-Madden, the house was rented out and at one time served as the medical office of Dr. Charles Herbin. The property was purchased by Lorenzo Boudreau and later by Irving Oil who built a service station there in 1959 under the proprietorship of co-author, the aforementioned Lorenzo Boudreau. In 1999 the facility was closed and donated to the Isle Madame Historical Society who incorporated it into a replica of a 19th century building as a component of the Arichat waterfront development.

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Don Boudrot is a retired English teacher, currently an author and historian living on Isle Madame.