A successful businessman from South of Ottawa had just built a brand new brick house for his young family, boasting the finest of Edwardian features. It was sitting waiting for them to take occupancy when Hudson Allison and his family returned from attending a Board Meeting in England. Mr. Allison was the epitome of success who seemed to make all the right decisions, with perhaps one exception…he bought tickets to come home on Titanic.
As we approach the 110th Anniversary of the tragic sinking of Titanic, the gap of time continues to widen between us and that fateful night in 1912. A few artifacts have been recovered from the wreck on the bottom of the Atlantic when they found Titanic’s final resting place in the 1980s. Some deck chairs washed ashore and sit in museums, along with some survivor memorabilia which are our only physical connection to the ill-fated ship.
The Chateau Laurier has a curious piece of Titanic history in its lobby, a marble bust of Laurier that Charles Hays commissioned for his hotel, of which he would never see open as he perished aboard Titanic that fateful night of April 14th, 1912. (I wrote about that previously HERE.)
To honour the memory of the 1,514 lives lost that night I wanted to try and find another local connection to Titanic that may help bridge the widening gap of time between us and Titanic. That search turned up information there was indeed another local connection, just south of Ottawa.
It is the homestead of Titanic passenger Hudson Allison and his family, a stately Edwardian home he had built in Chesterville on his farm that was to welcome them back after their transatlantic voyage. However, the young family would never set foot in the house, as all but one member of the family perished in the icy waters the night Titanic slipped under the waves. The Allison family home still sits as a quiet memorial to that tragic night.
Situated in Chesterville, Ontario, the Allison home was built for the successful businessman and his family in 1912. With the finishing touches being put on his new brick home, Mr. Allison and family were in England as Hudson was a member of the board of the British Lumber Corporation, and he and his family crossed the Atlantic to England for a directors meeting. While there, the Allison family took a trip to the Scottish Highlands where Mr. Hudson purchased two dozen Clydesdales and Hackney Stallions and mares for the farm back in Chesterville.
They then reserved cabins C-22/24/26 on the First Class Upper Deck of Titanic. This cabin was just around the corner form the French sculptor Chevre that made the marble bust of Laurier that now sits in the Chateau Laurier lobby. Mr. Allison and Mr. Chevre likely passed each other in the hallways of Titanic, not realizing they were both connected to Ottawa that fateful night.
Hudson, his wife Bess, and their children, Loraine and Trevor, all boarded Titanic for the exciting adventure across the Atlantic to their new home in Chesterville. Hudson and his wife would dine with Harry Molson from Montreal (yes, of Molson Brewery fame) the night Titanic hit the iceberg. In the aftermath of the sinking, only their young son Trevor would survive as he was hoisted into a lifeboat. Hudson, Bess and the daughter Loraine all perished, never to see their new home back in Chesterville. Trevor survived Titanic but would later die of food poisoning at the age of 18.
A few days after Titanic met its fate, Hudson Allison’s body was found floating in the Atlantic, the only one of the Allisons to be recovered. His body was brought to back to Canada and Mr Allison’s body was buried in the Allison family plot in Maple Ridge cemetery near Winchester, Ont.
One month after the funeral, Hudson’s brother Percy took delivery of the horses that Allison had arranged to be shipped by tramp steamer from Scotland. His house and farm was sold to new owners, and still stands much like it did back in 1912.
So, where exactly is The Allison House and his resting place? Let’s take a closer look.
The Allison Stock Farm where Hudson’s new home was built was an Edwardian red brick home.
Together with his brothers Percy and George, Hudson acquired 100 acres of farmland to create the Allison Stock Farm, purchasing land from John Hummel for $15,000. He built the imposing red brick house and a fine set of barns which he stocked with imported livestock.
This home would later become the Vanden Bosch Farm. A quick Google map search of that farm reveals the location of the ill-fated Titanic passenger’s home that he never got to step foot in. Using this information I was able to spot the Allison Home. It stands back from the highway, the landscape not much different than what it would have looked like back in 1912.
Now locating the resting place of Hudson Allison was more difficult. On a cold blustery April day, the day after the Titanic sinking last year, we visited the cemetery to pay our respects to this Titanic connection. Looking for the Allison Family obelisk where he and his family are buried, we soon found the family memorial plot and paid our respects with a moment of silence to remember the Allison family that was lost on Titanic.
The house and gravestone south of Ottawa is a sombre connection to the many souls lost along with Hudson and his family that tragic cold night on April 14th, 1912.
Andrew King, April 2021