Description of Historic Place

The Marathon Hotel has been open since 1871, possibly the oldest in continual operation in Canada. The gambrel roof building or "the annex" was built in the 1860s as the Marble Ridge House, and moved here in 1898 a few hundred meters from its original location at the top of the field next to Dexters Lane (then called "Marble Ridge Road"). The building farther left was Captain Pettes' house, also moved in 1898 from Pettes Cove. The card is from 1931.

The Marathon Inn is located on the very top of Marathon Lane overlooking the North Head Harbour in Grand Manan. Marathon Lane is a hidden drive between the North Head Post Office and the seasonal Island Arts gift shop. The inn proper is made up of three large buildings joined together with covered walkways. The view of the harbour from this vantage point is spectacular. There is a large barn located behind the inn.

Heritage Value

The Marathon Inn in Grand Manan is designated a Local Historic Place for being one of the oldest purpose-built continually-operated hotels in Eastern Canada. It has been owned only by nine people since its opening and is still fully operational. James Pettes, who built the most easterly part, was connected with ‘The Flushing’, the first Grand Manan ferry to run on a schedule. In 1898, the former Marble Ridge Inn was moved to its present site beside the main building from its original location in the Moses Lane area. The story goes that Capt. Pettes won it in a poker game. This is now known as the Annex. On the sill under this building are written the names of three men who died in 1898, reputedly when the building was being moved. Many local stories are connected with it. The last building making up the Marathon Inn is the Captain’s Quarters - originally Captain Pettes home – which was relocated here from Pettes Cove.

Architecturally, the buildings that comprise the Marathon Inn are among the more eclectic on the island. The main building, located on the eastern end of the complex, has a mansard roof and is in the Second Empire Style. The three-storey mid-section or Annex building has a shallow Dutch Colonial Revival gambrel roof with a belvedere and is of ‘balloon’ construction with 4x5 inch studs running from the foundation to the roof. The most westerly section, the two-storey Captain’s Quarters, is of board and batten construction and also has characteristics of the Dutch Colonial Revival style which was fairly common in throughout New Brunswick.

Source: Grand Manan Archives – Local Historic Places files

Naming of the Hotel

The hotel was named from a couple of lines in a "Isles of Greece" by Lord Byron.

The Isles of Greece

The isles of Greece, the Isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.

The Scian and the Teian muse,
The hero's harp, the lover's lute,
Have found the fame your shores refuse;
Their place of birth alone is mute
To sounds which echo further west
Than your sires' 'Islands of the Blest.'

The mountains look on Marathon
And Marathon looks on the sea;

And musing there an hour alone,
I dream'd that Greece might still be free;
For standing on the Persians' grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.

A king sate on the rocky brow
Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis;
And ships, by thousands, lay below,
And men in nations; — all were his!
He counted them at break of day —
And when the sun set where were they?

And where are they? and where art thou,
My country? On thy voiceless shore
The heroic lay is tuneless now —
The heroic bosom beats no more!
And must thy lyre, so long divine,
Degenerate into hands like mine?

'Tis something, in the dearth of fame,
Though link'd among a fetter'd race,
To feel at least a patriot's shame,
Even as I sing, suffuse my face;
For what is left the poet here?
For Greeks a blush — for Greece a tear.

Must we but weep o'er days more blest?
Must we but blush? — Our fathers bled.
Earth! render back from out thy breast
A remnant of our Spartan dead!
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylae!

What, silent still? and silent all?
Ah! no; — the voices of the dead
Sound like a distant torrent's fall,
And answer, 'Let one living head,
But one arise, — we come, we come!'
'Tis but the living who are dumb.

In vain — in vain: strike other chords;
Fill high the cup with Samian wine!
Leave battles to the Turkish hordes,
And shed the blood of Scio's vine!
Hark! rising to the ignoble call —
How answers each bold Bacchanal!

You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet,
Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone?
Of two such lessons, why forget
The nobler and the manlier one?
You have the letters Cadmus gave —
Think ye he meant them for a slave?

Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
We will not think of themes like these!
It made Anacreon's song divine:
He served — but served Polycrates
A tyrant; but our masters then
Were still, at least, our countrymen.

The tyrant of the Chersonese
Was freedom's best and bravest friend;
That tyrant was Miltiades!
O! that the present hour would lend
Another despot of the kind!
Such chains as his were sure to bind.

Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
On Suli's rock, and Parga's shore,
Exists the remnant of a line
Such as the Doric mothers bore;
And there, perhaps, some seed is sown,
The Heracleidan blood might own.

Trust not for freedom to the Franks —
They have a king who buys and sells;
In native swords, and native ranks,
The only hope of courage dwells;
But Turkish force, and Latin fraud,
Would break your shield, however broad.

Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
Our virgins dance beneath the shade —
I see their glorious black eyes shine;
But gazing on each glowing maid,
My own the burning tear-drop laves,
To think such breasts must suckle slaves

Place me on Sunium's marbled steep,
Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep;
There, swan-like, let me sing and die:
A land of slaves shall ne'er be mine —
Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!

by George Gordon, Lord Byron, 1788-1824

Source:  undated brochure of "Marathon House" when James A Pettes was proprietor.


Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements that describe the Marathon Inn include:

  • three separate buildings joined together through raised wooden walkways;
  • excellent sightlines to North Head Harbour;
  • some original furniture in the guest rooms.

  Bellow, July 2017 pictures


The character-defining elements that describe the Main House include:
- square three-storey massing;
- straight mansard roof;
- shed-roof dormers;
- central projecting frontispiece that towers above the roof-line;
- paired Roman arch windows on the second storey of the frontispiece;
- original sash windows;
- clapboard siding;
- interior spatial arrangement;
- some original interior woodwork.


The character-defining elements relating to the Annex include:
- lateral rectangular three-storey massing;
- gambrel roof with belvedere;
- symmetrical fenestration;
- full-width veranda with a shed roof;
- original sash windows;
- sitting room with the original wall fireplace;
- interior stairway to the cupola with many graffiti signatures of former guests;
- flying baluster staircase.


The character-defining elements relating to the Captain’s House include:

  • Two-storey rectangular massing.
  • Front-facing gambrel roof.
  • Original sash windows.
  • Ornate window headers on the front façade.
  • Covered wrap-around veranda.

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