Visiting the barbershop was a weekly or daily habit. Men would pop into the shop for a haircut and a shave, but also to socialize with friends or "chew the fat" and make deals behind closed doors. Speakeasies were hidden sections of legitimate establishments (such as barbershops) that were used to illegally sell alcohol during Prohibition.
john phillip plank
Joseph P. Plank. Courtesy of the Uxbridge Historical Centre.
ID. #: P618
In 1825, John Phillip Plank emigrated from New York to Uxbridge and immediately built a small tavern on his land, at the southwest corner of Brock and Main Streets. Plank's tavern was Uxbridge's first place of public entertainment and a popular spot for locals and travellers.
Plank also used his trade skills to build the first store in Uxbridge in 1830 and stocked it with goods brought by horse and buggy all the way from Oshawa.
John Plank's small tavern was Uxbridge's first place of public entertainment and the main hotel on the long route between Pickering and Beaverton. Taverns were often a place where people gathered to have community meetings, eat, drink alcohol, socialize, dance, and stay overnight.
Hotels at this time were more than just a place to sleep, they had ballrooms and hosted dances three to four times a week along with other forms of public entertainment. With the success of his tavern, Plank invested in the construction of a sawmill, which afterwards became property of Mr. Gould of the Mansion House Hotel.
Plank's Hotel (Postcard). Courtesy of the Uxbridge Historical Centre.
Plank built a new brick tavern in 1843, and a large hotel addition was added by his son in the 1870s to provide accommodations for all the expected visitors coming to Uxbridge on the new railway. By 1874, the Plank House was providing a free bus between the train station and the hotel. Plank and his establishments were never exposed to strict laws in regards to temperance as he passed away in 1876, years before any enforcements were official
Over the years, taverns and hotels went through many owners and with new management came a change of name. Plank House became the Queen's Hotel and by 1908, it became the Arlington Hotel.
Arlington Hotel. Courtesy of the Uxbridge Historical Centre. Acc. #: 972.18.1
However, the temperance movement was growing in Uxbridge and by 1916 the Arlington Hotel had closed and all its contents were sold. The building was occupied by a few other businesses until it burned down in 1922.
Joseph Gould's Mansion House hotel was built in 1871, just after the railway came to Uxbridge. Gould was a Quaker and a firm upholder of Christian temperance principles; however, his business at the Mansion House prevented him from being a total abstainer as he was obliged to use liquors there.
Mansion House. Courtesy of the Uxbridge Historical Centre. Acc. #: 986.37.1
Gould knew that customers went where the whiskey was and if the Mansion House was 'dry', he would not get much business. When Gould died in 1886, he left $2,500 in his will with the intent that the interest be given annually to families who had been negatively affected by alcohol consumption at the Mansion House.
This fund is known as the “Gould Relief Fun”. Believe it or not, this money is still in the town’s possession after 118 years of funds going to those in need.