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Water for Tourists

A colour post card showing a large three section reddish building with a green roof perched on a hill top overlooking the Back Harbour, Chester, known as the Hackmatack Inn. A veranda runs along the front of two sections of the building and tennis courts are visible in the foreground. This was one of the large hotels that received water from Hawboldt Gas Engines and its developer Mr. Keasby was one of the original investors in the project.

Hackmatack Inn

By the 1880’s Chester was already a popular summer retreat for Americans seeking clean air, sailing, fishing and other pursuits believed to restore one’s health. Several large hotels were built to serve the increasing number of visitors but chronic water shortages created challenges for innkeepers.

In 1914 the owner of the Hackmatack Inn, Professor Lindley Keasbey, approached Forman Hawboldt about designing a water system to serve his hotel and guests.

A bill from Forman Hawboldt, to Phil Walker, for water service for the 1949 season in the amount of $35.00. Receipted by Forman Hawboldt

Water service bill, 1949

A large black iron pump with a flywheel. The water lines to and from the pump are shown as is a valve to turn off the water on the pipe. This was the pump used to supply the water throughout the summer to village residents. Currently it is on display at the Forman Hawboldt Collection building at Chester Train Station.

A large pump used to supply water for the village

A deal was struck whereby Keasbey offered to help offset the cost of installing pipes from the Hawboldt property on North Street through the village to the Hackmatack in exchange for a guaranteed supply of water for a set number of years.
A three-cylinder plunger-type pump was installed on the Hawboldt property and a 4- inch diameter iron pipe was used to convey water to the Inn. Eventually other properties asked to be hooked-up to the system resulting in a maze of pipes buried 4 feet below the road surface. Because the pipes froze in the winter, water was supplied only during the warmer months.

The village water system served about 65 customers but never made a profit and was discontinued in 1950.


“I remember as a boy in the late 1940s helping my grandfather connect the water system in the late spring.  We would row out and retrieve the pipes running across the bottom of the Front Harbour between Water Street and Nauss Point Road, joining them together. In the Fall the pipes were disconnected again to avoid bursting.”

Jim Barkhouse

Chester Municipal Heritage Society