Origins and Memories of Café Mulligan
John Lemieux, a long-time resident of Aylmer, born in 1926 and raised in Maniwaki, is quick-witted, agile, independent and a living historian of what one would consider yesteryear. At 96 years old, Mr. Lemieux’s memories of days gone by are rich with story, humour, and characters untainted by time. The information he holds is not found by a Google or Wikipedia search.
John’s maternal grandfather, Dr. Edward Arthur Mulligan (1868-1943) was born and raised in the red brick building at 145 rue Principale, next door to Café Mulligan which was built by Edward’s brother George. A successful businessman of his time, George was inspired to build his home next to that of his family after a trip to their ancestral Ireland. The widow’s perch and impressive terrace are outstanding features of the home George lived in for all of his adult life.
John’s grandmother, Carrie Mulligan (nee Sayer), an Aylmerite whose family’s bakery unfortunately burned down, told him that his great-grandfather, James Mulligan, had owned all of the lands that would become the Wychwood cottage community. John eventually brought his wife, Lorraine, and their four children to live in Wychwood in 1976. John remains in the square log house that was originally built on Chemin Pink. It cost him $350.00 dollars and a promise to clear the area from where it would be moved for renovation at the top of Pine Street. At the time, neighbours had unsuccessfully complained about the reconstruction of the rustic log home but, today, it is a landmark at the entrance to the neighbourhood. Many passersby stop to admire its unique charm.
John remembers the mystery surrounding his Uncle George’s death. Renowned as one of the wealthiest men in the region, George inexplicably emptied his bank account two weeks prior to his demise. Not a trace of his fortune was ever to be found. Those who would have been the heirs to George’s riches thought he may have buried his money somewhere on the property so, the entire garden was dug up. Nothing. They then opened the walls of what is now the Café named after him. Nothing. The whereabouts of his money remain a puzzle to this day.
When John’s granddaughter, Emily Lemieux, eventually worked as a barista in her great-great-great uncle George’s house-turned-coffee shop, John playfully told her to keep an eye out for any dollar bills that may peak out of the cracks of the floorboards. If discovered, he teased, he told her she would have to tell the owner that John would be the rightful heir in line for that windfall!
Café Mulligan offers specialty coffee and edibles and supports local artists’ work for its many regular and visiting customers who enjoy the stately covered porch - rain or shine, winter and summer. The apartment beneath the widow’s perch is apparently haunted. But that is another story.
Suzanne Keeptwo, author of We All Go Back to The Land