Who Are These Men? - Could one of these persons be J.W. Willis, proprietor of Wobamkek, who had a career as an insurance agent and bookkeeper? Or perhaps it was his brother Charles, a banker, who died at the resort on Aug. 20, 1930. This old photograph was found many years ago by Wendy (Burgess) Whynot in the remnants of one of the old cabins of Wobamkek. “As a result of growing up in South West Port Mouton, I had the opportunity to explore the area, extensively. One of my favorite places was ‘the river’ (which runs from Cranberry Hall in South West, across Carters Beach to the ocean). Many a summer day did my friends and myself spend cooling off in our favorite swimming hole. We would have to pass through the old resort to get there and even though it was run down (and falling down) we always liked to look around. On one of those occasions I found this picture inside. Part of the picture is missing but it looks like a gentleman working at a desk. Maybe even keeping the books for the resort, I'm really not sure. No one was ever able to give me any solid information on who was in the picture or if it was indeed inside of the office for the resort,” said Wendy.
John William “J.W.” Willis proprietor of Wobamkek Resort in Southwest Port Mouton, spent most of his life in Nova Scotia where he was an insurance agent and bookkeeper. Retired as a bookkeeper, he last worked at this occupation in 1946.
Born: January 22, 1873, in Petitcodiac, New Brunswick
Died: 1949 November 17 in Wolfville, Nova Scotia (Eastern Kings Memorial Hospital of coronary thrombosis). Informant on death certificate was Mary Willis, sister, living at 265 Tower Road, Halifax. He was buried in Fairview Cemetery. Undertaker was J.W. Lindsay, Wolfville. Death certificate said he was married. His address when he died in 1949 was 20 Westwood Drive, Wolfville. He had lived in Wolfville for his last eight years. He was buried on November 19, 1949 in Fairview Cemetery, Halifax.
Father: Rev. Cuthbert Willis, son of Robert Willis and Mary Billop was born in Halifax on March 6, 1832. He died on June 4, 1920. Mother: Henrietta Isobella Hogg, daughter of William Hogg, was born in Gateshead County Durham, England, on October 4, 1833.
Spouse: J.W. had lived with his parents in Halifax until he was 40 years old when, as a bachelor, and an insurance agent, on June 30, 1913, Church of England, he married Muriel Bent, 25, spinster, Halifax but born in Pugwash, daughter of rural mail superintendent Frank P. and Sophia Bent. Witnesses were Annie E. Duffus and Denis Stairs.
Siblings: Other children of his parents Cuthbert and Henrietta Willis were: Cuthbert and Henrietta Willis, twins, born on Nov. 29, 1866, Petitcodiac, New Brunswick. Henrietta Willis and her husband Adolphus Naftel, a retired law clerk, died on March 2, 1939 in Halifax’s Queen Hotel fire. Their death certificates said they were “caught in the burning building”. Informant signature on the death certificate was their son J. C. Naftel whose address was the Halifax YMCA. Henrietta married Aldophus Frederick John Naftel of Goderich, Ontario on August 30, 1898 when she was 29 and he was 33. His parents were John (whose profession was described as “gentleman”) and Caroline Naftel. Charles E. Willis, born Nov. 23, 1870, died Aug. 20, 1930 at Wobamkek Beach in Southwest Port Mouton. He was a banker. (Informants on two death certificates for Charles were J. W. Willis, and Mary Willis) Mary Elizabeth Willis, born April 30, 1874. Robert Billop Willis, born March 28, 1877. He married Dorothy Helen Stairs, daughter of George and Helen (MacKenzie) Stairs on January 19, 1912 when he was 34 and she was 26. He died at the age of 72 in 1953, in Camp Hill Hospital of hypertensive cardio vascular disease. A colonel in the Imperial and Canadian Army, he retired in 1924 after 30 years as a soldier. Robert’s wife, Dorothy Helen Willis, 252 Tower Road, Halifax, died at the age of 68, in Victoria General Hospital Halifax, in 1954. The informant signature on her death certificate was that of her nephew MacCallum A. Grant of Young Avenue, Halifax. Sarah Emily was born on Aug. 6, 1878.
Notes: Camp On Broad River: Dr. Tom Raddall (son of the late author Thomas H. Raddall) said J. W. Willis had, in addition to the Wobamkek cottages, a hunting camp “at the top of” Broad River.
AUK, the Ornithological Research Archive: Indigo bunting found dead by Mr. J. W. Willis at Port Mouton on April 28, 1934.
Sources Of Willis Family Information: include Nova Scotia Vital Stats and Canada Census