Piddington, Alfred

Alfred Piddington 1859 - 1922

Alfred Piddington was born on August 13th, in 1859. He came to Tadoussac originally because his sister, Eliza Ernestine Piddington and her husband, Dr. G. G. Gale of Quebec City, had been coming here since the 1880s, renting the old Ferguson house. It is believed that Alfred, and his brother Sam, both bachelors, came to Tadoussac to visit their sister, and fell in love with the area.
The Piddington family originally came from the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel. They immigrated to Quebec in the 19th century, and invested in companies like the Quebec-Lake St John Railroad, the Canadian Rubber company, Sun Life Insurance, the Royal Electric Company and the Quebec Steamship Company.
In 1906, Sam and Alfred bought a house they called Hillcrest after the widow of the owner, Robert Powel, died in 1905. This house had originally been called Ivanhoe, and at this writing is known as the Bailey’s house. The Powels, from Philadelphia, had built the house in 1865 having obtained the land from Willis Russell of Quebec, both of whom were charter members of the St Marguerite Salmon Club. The Salmon Club, Hillcrest and the Protestant Chapel were built in the Gothic Revival architecture style, which was popular during the 1860’s in Canada.
Sam and Alfred were avid sportsmen, enjoying fishing and hunting in particular. They made changes in the house that reflected these interests. For example, a wall was removed to create a large central room that would become a billiard room, and in that room, they mounted the spoils of their hunting trips, including a stuffed wooden duck, a brace of grouse, and a moose head. Other additions included a player piano and gothic-style chairs.
Sometime between 1906 and 1914, Alfred went on to build what is now the Stephen-Skutezky house. After his death in 1922, it was passed on to Trevor Evans, and eventually his descendants. Alfred called this house Ivanhoe, the original name for Hillcrest. It’s interesting that many items in both houses are similar including furniture, a piano, a brace of grouse, and even a moose head on the wall.
Many old family photographs show that the Piddingtons and the Gales enjoyed sailing on the yacht ‘Pirate’ and picnicking in various places up the Saguenay. Many pictures show them enjoying recreational activities on the Hillcrest lawn, which then extended to the Dufferin House property, where the school is today. They enjoyed lawn bowling, lawn tennis, cricket, croquet and horse back-riding. He even made a miniature golf course. The family still has a picture of Alfred Piddington playing golf in the early days of the Tadoussac Golf Club. In addition, their original guestbook records the names of many summer residents who attended elaborate tea parties at Hillcrest.
Alfred’s brother, Sam Piddington, died in 1925 and left Hillcrest to his beloved niece, Ernestine Valiant Gale Bailey and it has been in the Bailey family ever since.
Besides the memorial plaque in the Chapel, large cottonwood trees, unusual for this region and which are almost 100 years old, were planted in memory of Sam, Alfred, and Eliza Piddington, in front of Hillcrest, facing the bay.
Ray Bailey / Alan Evans