Blyth Inn - 170 Years of Hosting
The corner of Queen St. (County Rd 4) and Dinsley Street in the village of Blyth has been the home of a hotel since before the village was established.
As early as 1852, John Drummond (whose brother Robert had part of his farm surveyed into lots for a town) was a shoemaker, and his location became known as a place where travellers could stop, as his place abutted the trail that ran through the densely wooded area at a time when the population of the village was around 30 and there was no commercial hotel.
In 1856, James and Mary Combs walked from Goderich with eight children in tow to take over and expand the property into a proper hotel.
The next owners had their hotel, known as Shane’s Hotel, designated as a mail stage hotel. It also hosted both Morris Township Council meetings and the Episcopal Church meetings. Eventually, the Morris Branch Agricultural Society held its meetings there and political forums were also hosted there. In many ways, early hotels served as community centres.
As the village grew and developed around the hotel, a main street was formed. In 1906, a three-storey building of blocks made locally with an Eureka Cement Block machine was put up by then-owner Isaac Brown and that is the building that still graces the corner. Owners and managers came and went over the years, and competitor hotels sprung up and faded away. By 1891, the business was known as the Commercial Hotel and the name stuck until 1967 when the Wilds purchased the hotel and called it the Blyth Inn.
In 1983, Peter and Carol Irwin purchased the hotel and operated a fine dining restaurant, hosting many family gatherings and merchants’ annual dinners. The couple renovated the upstairs living quarters and made many improvements to the operation.
The next owners renewed the property as a hotel and restaurant, with extensive renovations to the second and third floors as rental accommodations.
At some point in its history, the locals began referring to the Inn as “The Rubber Boot” and eventually just “The Boot”, in deference to the large number of farmers who would stop in after chores for a beer and some gossip. The moniker has stuck and has become the pride of both the locals and the company of actors and production staff that the Blyth Festival brings in each summer. In fact, the hotel was the star of the aptly named Wing Night at The Boot, a hit play at the Festival in 2018.
Today, in addition to the ever popular wing nights (which are held every Thursday), the Blyth Inn is busy year-round with playgoers in the summer and snowmobilers in the winter. Reservations are recommended for dinner before a play, or on Thursday nights. The Blyth Inn has a great menu of pub fare. (We recommend that you try the “Bootine”!) 422 Queen St, Blyth www.blythinn.ca
*Special thanks to the Blyth Repository of History for collecting and sharing Blyth’s history!