Mrs. George F. Smith and her three daughters of Saint John were among the early guests at the Algonquin Hotel beginning in July 1892. Her husband, George Frederick Smith had died in 1894 at age 55. His grandfather was Dr. Nathan Smith, a surgeon who sided with the King’s cause at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War and served in the 1st Battalion of De Lancey’s Brigade. After the War ended in 1781, Dr. Smith joined others from the disbanded Loyalist unit on half-pay and in 1783 settled in what is now the city of Saint John. He practiced as a physician and apothecary at Lower Cove. His only son was Thomas M. Smith, who became a partner in the firm of Johnson & Walker, ship chandlers and ship owners. When he died his own son, George F. Smith, took over the business and expanded it. He became a prominent ship owner in Saint John, he was the first to own and operate iron and steel clad steam vessels. He was an alderman of the City of Saint John, an active member of the famous Neptune Rowing Club, the Saint John Athletic Club, and the Bonaventure Salmon Club on the Bonaventure River.
George Smith married Wilhelmina Gordon of Pictou, Nova Scotia in October 1879. Her grandparents had come from Kildonan in Sutherland, Scotland to Pictou in 1816 during the Highland Clearances. George Smith made regular trips to the Port of Pictou where he became an acquaintance of the Gordon family. Eventually George and Minnie began to date and in 1879 they were married. The couple moved back to Saint John where they began a life together. They had three daughters, Constance, Amy and Madeline. After her husband’s death Wilhemina raised the girls by herself, she was greatly assisted by her husband’s fortune that she inherited on his death close to $100,000. As her children grew older she devoted herself to charitable causes.
Wilhemina became involved in the St John Anglican Church and took on leadership roles in the Ladies Society of Church Workers and the Ladies Association of Church of England Institute. She was a founding and lifelong member of the Victorian Order of Nurses in Saint John and in the early 1920s she was involved in establishing a nurses’ training school in New Brunswick. In 1903 she became involved in the Women’s Auxiliary to the Missionary Society of the Church of England, she held the positions of vice-president and president for 22 years. She was also appointed to represent the Maritime Provinces at the Canadian Dominion Board.
At the end of the First World War the Canadian government called for a conference in Ottawa of leading women’s groups from across the country to engage women in the political processes.
Process to convey how women could participate in war work. Wilhemina was one of seventy five women invited to attend. Actions from this conference were legislated including universal registration of births, protection of milk supplies, and pensions for mothers.
After staying at the Algonquin Hotel in St Andrews for the summer, in 1914-1925 she began to rent the Anchorage on Parr Street which she shared with two of her daughters and their husbands and her grandchildren. She died in 1925 in the Anchorage in the love and care of her three daughters during her last days.
Her eldest daughter Constance married Guy D. Robinson a well-known grain broker in Saint John, and later in Montreal, his firm being Robinson & Climo. Constance and Guy and their children, F. Barclay, Margaret (Peggy) De Lancey and Helen Gordon shared the Archorage with Wilhemina every summer until 1922 when they rented a house on Water Street which belonged to Mrs. T.J. Coughey, they continued to rent it for 18 years. After the Second World War Guy and Constance Robinson continued to come to St Andrews. Guy continued to come after the death of his wife in 1955 and became a familiar figure at the Algonquin where he stayed until his own death in 1960. Their daughter Margaret married Theodore Roosevelt Meighen, son of Senator Arthur Meighen on 30 June 1937. The Meighens bought the Allan A. Magee property and built The Little House and built a new all-season house on the site. Now their son Michael and his wife Kelly come each summer with their two sons Theodore and Hugh.
F. Barclay Robinson joined his father’s firm in Montreal and married Ruth Seeley. Her parents had built their own summer home on De Monts Road in 1912. Her grandfather was George Bosworth, vice-president of CPR Steamships. Barclay and Ruth had three sons, Gordon, Ian and David. After Barclay’s retirement they moved to Lunenberg, N.S.
Helen Gordon Robinson married John Kennet Starnes in 1941, and they continue to visit St Andrews.