Pat Comeau and her husband Arnold took over Weymouth’s landmark business, the Goodwin Hotel, on March 23, 1970, beginning four decades of providing dining and hotel service to local residents and to people from as far away as Australia.
After retiring from military service, Arnold Comeau wanted to return to his hometown of Weymouth and the Goodwin was for sale, so the couple decided it could serve as their home and business.
“Although we didn’t know a great deal about the hotel business, we quickly learned that living in one opens your home to the public,” Pat Comeau reminisced last week. “I remember our first Christmas at the hotel when our three children were young and very much into Santa Claus.
“It was early Christmas morning when a knock on the door brought in a family who I believe had been caught in a snowstorm all night and were seeking a warm breakfast before continuing on their journey.
“We stopped everything, I left my family and hurried out to the kitchen to make our guests a hot breakfast,” she said.
Comeau recalled the early years before the highway bypass when all traffic came through the village, especially from the two Yarmouth ferries, and the passenger train was still operating.
“We were very busy as the hotel was right along the main thoroughfare and people were used to the kind of accommodations the Goodwin offered.”
Although there have been renovations over the years, the Comeaus have preserved the spirit and atmosphere of the hotel, with recent guests coming to stay overnight just to sample what visitors experienced a century ago.
The historic Goodwin began operating as a hotel around 1890, but the large wooden structure is much older.
“Weymouth resident Ed Rice told me his great-grandfather was born in the house in 1850,” she said. “John Goodwin took over the home from the Rice family sometime in the late 1880s and began operating it as a hotel.”
One of the biggest social events in Weymouth at the turn of the last century was the huge wedding luncheon and reception held at the Goodwin for Germaine Stehelin from New France and Capt. Nevius Kay on Oct. 30, 1900, with over 100 guests in attendance.
The hotel remained in the Goodwin family with John’s son Olie taking over from his father and finally his daughter Ruth operated the business until she sold it to Raymond Rice in 1955.
Comeau said maintaining a business like this is only possible with the entire family involved and at least one member working at an outside job.
Although we didn’t know a great deal about the hotel business, we quickly learned that living in one opens your home to the public. - Pat Comeau
“Arnold worked another job outside of the hotel for 26 years and for the past number of years our two sons have gradually taken on more responsibilities that have lessened my workload.
“I have one part-time employee to help with lunch but I still handle the supper hour crowd and do the books.”
For 30 years, the hotel business was Comeau’s life entirely, but 10 years ago she took up rug hooking and has found the craft provides enjoyment and relaxation outside of work.
“I still enjoy running the hotel, seeing the regulars and meeting new visitors to the hotel and dining room, but this outlet has given me a new sense of contentment.”
In reflecting over the past 40 years Comeau is amazed at how fast the time has gone but says it has been good and does not foresee any changes in the near future.
“We have been very fortunate over the years. After a life in the military, I am happy that being in Weymouth all these years has given our children roots and a place they consider home.”