April 15, 2021
Gilks House King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit Doaktown 1939

Gilks House

The Gilks House in Doaktown was built about 1890 by Allen Doak. It was later owned by George Hinton before being purchased by Mr. and Mrs. James Gilks who ran it as a hotel.

James A. Gilks’s claim to fame is that, as proprietor of the Gilks House at Doaktown, he and his wife served lunch to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during the 1939 Royal Tour of Canada. The Gilks House was a fifty-year-old former residence which they had fitted up as a hotel and eatery. 

King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit Doaktown 1939

The Royal Train brought the King and Queen to Newcastle on the morning of 13 June 1939, and they made the 108-mile trip to Fredericton by road. It was hot in the open car in which they rode, and dusty, since much of the road was unpaved. R. A. Tweedie states in his book, On With the Dance, that “the King was furious by the time he reached Fredericton,” but he looks serene in the photographs taken during the stop at the Gilks House, which was relatively informal and unpublicized in advance. 

In 1971 Doaktown businessman William McKinnon purchased the house from Mrs. Percy Crocker. He offered the house along with most of the original furniture to be used as a museum and historic site. Instrumental in the restoration project was his son, William R. McKinnon, then a college student and now an archivist with N. B. Archives. 

William MacKinnon Home, Doaktown
William MacKinnon Home, Doaktown

On July 2, 1973 the Gilks House opened as an historical site. The ribbon was cut by Lieutenant-Governor Hedard J. Robichaud. Among those in attendance who were also present at the time of the historic Royal Visit were W. S. Anderson of Newcastle, former Cabinet Minister; Blaine Murray of Doaktown, a war veteran; Mrs. Gerald Mitchell and Mrs. Isabel Dickinson of Doaktown, who served the Royal couple; Mrs. Fraser O’Donnell of Doaktown, who as a Girl Guide presented a bouquet to the Queen.

Although the Gilks House was well received as an historic site, lack of funding resulted in its closing in 1973. The building has since been converted to apartments.

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