The Stoddard Hotel in Clam Harbour

The Stoddard Hotel was a landmark in Clam Harbour from the 1930s to 1950. The family-run business was popular with travellers and day-trippers to the beach who enjoyed its hospitality, leisure activities, and good cooking.

For several decades, the Stoddard Hotel in Clam Harbour was a landmark on the road to Clam Harbour Beach. The hotel was owned by Walter E. Stoddard (b.1852) and his wife Hannah Palmer (b.1856). It is believed to have been built around 1900 by Fred H. Stoddard, replacing an earlier house that burned down.

While no business records exist for the hotel prior to 1929, the hotel register from 1929 to 1950 shows that the hotel thrived throughout the 1930s, but then business slowed after the outbreak of the Second World War. Annual registrations ranged from 409 visitors in 1930 to 110 visitors in 1940.

The 1930 edition of “Where to Stay in Nova Scotia,” published by the Hon. Percy C. Black, Minister of Highways, lists the hotel as:

Stoddard’s Hotel. W. E. Stoddard. Fifteen rooms. Rates $2.00 per day, $12.00 per week. Verandah, electric light. Tennis, croquet grounds. Boats available. Splendid surf bathing and swimming facilities. One-quarter mile from sport fishing. Shore bird shooting. Excellent sand beach.

In an article authored by the “Gasolene Gypsy” published in the Halifax Herald sometime between 1925 and 1932, the Hotel becomes a refuge for a lost automobile containing three “motoring gypsies” in search of sustenance along the uninhabited Eastern Shore. The author writes,

Back to the post-office hotel again. Five meat cakes, which meant a lot of troublous mathematics for three very hungry young gentlemen who were greedy but just; but there was also lobster salad, with as good a dressing as I have yet encountered in the province; there were fresh strawberries with loads of cream, there were huge rolls with the warmth still in them and enough cake to satisfy a Sunday School picnic. And the tariff was only fifty cents. Nova Scotia is still Nova Scotia despite tourist propaganda.

By 1946, the listing in “Where to Stay” shows the hotel has fewer rooms available and a new proprietor:

“Stoddard’s. Mrs. R.Y. Sanford. 8 bedrooms. Verandah. Fresh vegetables. 1 mile to magnificent sand beach. 4 miles to sport fishing. Rate per day with board $2.50. per week $12; single rooms $1 per night. Electric lights, toilet and running water.”

The proprietor, Mrs. R.Y. Sanford (Laura Fisher Stoddard), was the youngest daughter of Walter E. Stoddard. While the hotel was primarily a family-run operation, Mrs. Sanford also employed local school girls during their summer breaks to wait on tables and work as housemaids. The hotel was known for its good cooking and could serve upwards of forty meals a day to guests and day trippers to the nearby white sand beach. The hotel also served as the community’s post office until 1951, when the office in the hotel was shut down.

Guests to the hotel included travelling salesmen, families from the city, and visitors from all over the United States and Ontario. Many guests returned year after year, notably Judge F.M. Morson of Toronto, who sent packages of candy to the Clam Harbour school each Christmastime, and donated the stained glass windows found in the Clam Harbour United Church (now located at Memory Lane Heritage Village). On August 20th, 1937, Helen Creighton and Doreen Senior stayed in the hotel while on a folk song collecting expedition.

Given dwindling numbers during the late 1940s, the hotel was shut down in 1950. It remained the residence of Roy and Laura (Stoddard) Sanford until Laura’s death in 1970. The home was then sold by Roy Sanford to notable visual artist, Charlotte Wilson-Hammond, who moved with her family from Toronto to Clam Harbour in November 1971.