The Pinegrove Hotel
A Spryfield Landmark for 65 Years
In 1893 William Topple purchased 35 acres of land on the Herring Cove Road from Mary Ann Gray, the daughter of William and Elizabeth (Drysdale) Yeadon. The land was part of the 1771 grant to Captain William Spry, acquired by the Yeadons in the 1830s from the estate of George McIntosh, Esq. This lot was deeded to Mary Ann Gray just before her father's death in 1849. It was here, on what is now the corner of Herring Cove Road and Pinegrove Drive, that Topple built his hotel. Tim Horton's Coffee Shop is located on the same property in 2018.
In 1875, at the age of 15 years, William Topple emigrated from England to Halifax with his parents and siblings. He became a member of the militia and was part of the Halifax contingent to fight in the Riel Rebellion. In 1893, when he moved to Spryfield, his family consisted of a wife, five children and a mother-in-law. Four more children were born in Spryfield. An early photograph shows the hotel as a basic two-story house, but it soon became necessary to add more rooms, large enough to accommodate his increasing family and Spryfield's first store. He added a barn, a carriage house and a stable. In her 1895 diary entry, Elizabeth Jane Bishop (later Mrs. Arthur Kidston), wrote "went to a shindig at Topples, stayed the night."
While Spryfield was not well populated in 1893, William Topple was aware of its potential. Sports enthusiasts from Halifax were attracted to the surrounding lakes, streams and forests. Halifax newspapers loved to print the stories of sports fishermen who boasted of the dozens of trout they caught daily in Bennett's and Doyle's Lakes in Harrietsfield and in the McIntosh Run in Spryfield. Visitors travelling along the Herring Cove Road from Halifax to Harrietsfield, Herring Cove, Ketch Harbour, and Sambro, stopped at the Pinegrove Hotel to rest their horses and partake of refreshments. After 1900, visitors to the Micmac Game and Fish Club in Harrietsfield were some of Halifax's elite. They travelled through Spryfield by horse and carriage, stopping to relax at the Pinegrove. According to an advertisement in McAlpine's 1907-08 Directory:
This hotel is situated five miles from Halifax post office. An excellent drive, with good roads. A very pleasant outing in the heart of a good fishing locality. Stabling and all other Accommodations. Licensed house. Meals and Accommodations at all Hours. Rates Moderate
In 1908, William Topple sold his thriving business to Roland Lockhart who owned hotels on Quinpool Road and St. Margaret's Bay Road. Topple moved his family to Jollimore where he established the Lower Arm Confectionery and became the first Superintendant of Fleming Park, a position he held for almost 20 years (from 1919 to 1937). He served as the Councillor for District 14 (Armdale) for 17 years. The houses along Parkhill Road in Jollimore, from civic numbers 32 to 40, were built by William Topple. His own two-storey house, which burned down in 1939, was located where 28 Parkhill Road is today.
The Pinegrove Hotel continued to operate in Spryfield for many more years. The Yeadon quarries in Spryfield provided employment for many local and out of town labourers. The Pinegrove Hotel accommodated them. The hotel was a stopping place for soldiers stationed at Camperdown near Portuguese Cove and others stationed at York Redoubt. A well-travelled road from Ferguson's Cove, across Pine Island Runs and the barrens, emerged about 2.5 kilometres south of the hotel, near Princeton Avenue on the Herring Cove Road. The old road to St. Margaret's Bay was another well-travelled route through Spryfield to Goodwood and other communities on the Prospect Road. Robinson's Tours of Halifax offered regular sight-seeing tours by horse and wagon to the Rockingstone and to Sambro. The Acadian Recorder, 18 January 1915, reported that the male staff of M.S. Brown and Company, Limited, were holding their annual sleigh drive to the Pinegrove Hotel that afternoon.
During the First World War, soldiers were stationed at Spryfield and Harrietsfield, protecting the Halifax water supply at Long Lake and Spruce Hill Lake from possible sabotage. They boarded at the Pinegrove Hotel. All of these factors contributed to the popularity and success of the hotel which was an important part of the social life of Spryfield during the early years of the 20th century.
By the 1930s, as transportation and roads to and from Halifax improved, it became apparent that Spryfield no longer needed a hotel. Although it retained its name, the Pinegrove Hotel was converted to a rooming house, with three apartments added at the back of the building. Progress prevailed, however, and the old Pinegrove Hotel was torn down in 1959 to make way for a service station.