The County’s History - the former Corson House and the original Keltic Lodge
The house in this photograph was initially located in the community of Ingonish, on the peninsula known as Middle Head. Probably built in the mid to late nineteen teens, it was known as “The Lodge” and was the home of Henry and Julia Corson. Originally from Akron, Ohio, the Corsons were friends of Alexander Graham Bell who had introduced the couple to Cape Breton and, in particular, to the northern part of Victoria County.
The Corsons were able to acquire the Middle Head property from two different sources. The seventy-five acres on which the house was situated was purchased from Edward Keigan, a local fisherman, and his wife Catherine Keigan in February, 1899 for the sum of $650.00. The remainder of the peninsula was obtained through a Crown land grant. The grant was made up of two parcels of land and contained a total of forty-two acres. These two lots were granted to Henry Corson and William Morgan jointly in November of 1904 for the price of $80.00.
Apparently, Julia Corson did not enjoy good health. The decision to make Middle Head the Corsons’ new home was, in part, made because they felt that the fresh, clean ocean air would benefit her condition. Henry Corson died in the early 1920’s. Julia stayed on in the community until 1938 when the Federal Government expropriated her land as part of the newly established Cape Breton Highlands National Park which had come into existence in 1936. After her property and home were expropriated, Mrs. Corson moved back to the United States and lived out her days there until her death in the 1940’s.
Following the departure of Julia Corson, the government converted her dwelling into a hotel which operated until 1950 with the exception of four years during WWII from 1942 to 1946 as a result of wartime rationing and also the lack of clientele. The Corson house was finally razed after the new Keltic Lodge was completed.
In 1950, construction began on the present day Keltic Lodge. In 1952, it was completed and opened to the travelling public. Keltic Lodge has welcomed visitors from around the world over the past sixty-four years and it still continues to be a viable and iconic hotel in Victoria County.
This picture was taken in 1940 (circa) not long after it had been opened as the original Keltic Lodge.
Corson House as it appeared circa 1940.