Tides of Tadoussac.com Marées de Tadoussac
Powel, Robert Hare
Powel Family who built the Bailey house
Robert Hare Powel – 1825 – 1883 & Amy Smedley Powel – 1825 – 1908
The Powel family came from Pennsylvania. Robert’s father - John Powel Hare (1786 – 1856) was an American agriculturist, politician, art collector, and philanthropist. He was born John Powel Hare and was adopted by his mother's widowed and childless sister, Elizabeth Willing Powel. He legally changed his name to John Hare Powel when he attained his majority and inherited the immense fortune of his late uncle, Samuel Powel. He was educated at The Academy and College of Philadelphia and after college joined a counting house. As part of his job in mercantile affairs, he travelled to Calcutta and returned at age twenty-two with $22,000 as his share of the profit.
Robert’s mother, Julia (De Veaux), was the daughter of Colonel Andrew De Veaux. She and John married in 1817. They had seven children: Samuel, De Veaux, Henry Baring, Robert Hare, Julia, John Hare Jr., and Ida. The couple and their young family lived on the Powel family farmland known as Powelton, in west Philadelphia, where John began efforts to improve American agriculture.
Robert Hare Powel married Amy Smedley (Bradley) who had been born in 1825, in Chester, Pennsylvania. Together they had six children: Julia De Veaux (1851), William Platt (1853 who only lived one year) Robert Hare jr. (1857), Amy Ida (1858), De Veaux (1861) and Henry Baring (1864)
Robert and Amy purchased land in Tadoussac in 1865 from Willis Russell and built a house next door to him (The Bailey house). The adjoining lots were connected by a gate and Mrs Powel visited Mrs Russell nearly every afternoon. These Rhodes, Russell, and Powel properties were referred to as “our three cottages” by the men and the three of them often played whist together in the evening. Mr Powel was said to be “the life of every party” and they were very generous and hospitable to young people from Tadoussac who visited them in Philadelphia, not least some of Col. Rhodes’s sons who worked in Mr Powel’s rail yards.
Both Robert Powel and Willis Russell were charter members of the Marguerite Salmon Club. There were a number of other charter members, all American, Willis Russell being the only Canadian.
Robert died in 1883. His obituary, taken from The Daily News of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, describes his activities during his career.
“Robert Hare Powel, the great coal operator, died suddenly at Saxton, Bedford County, on Monday evening last. His death was caused by indigestion … On Monday morning he was unable to get up and continued to grow worse until about 7 o'clock in the evening when he expired. Dr Brumbaugh, of this place, had been summoned, but the train did not arrive at Saxton until five minutes after Mr Powel died… The intelligence of his sudden death was received here the same evening, and could scarcely be believed, as he had been well on Saturday and was in the best of health.
Mr Powel's loss will be greatly felt in this section. He was the first to penetrate the semi-bituminous coal region in this county and the first to ship the coal to the east. He continued to develop not only the vast deposits of coal but of iron and while wealth accumulated as the result of his foresight and sagacity, he sought other channels for investing his means, thereby giving employment to thousands of workmen.
He was honest and honourable in business transactions, plain and unassuming in manner, a self-made man.” 4
His widow and family continued to come to Tadoussac in the summers and it wasn’t until 1906, a year before Amy’s death, that the house was sold to Sam and Alfred Piddington.