Summary: Narcisse Cantin, founder of St. Joseph, Ontario, was born in 1870. Of French Canadian descent, it was his dream to build a canal from Lake Huron to Lake Erie that would serve as a transportation center. Fulfillment of his dream depended upon government approval and its subsidies for the canal. While petitioning the government for its help, Cantin acquired land and proceeded to plan a town site to include several hundred residential lots and streets for palatial homes. He built a three-story hotel, named it “Balmoral,” and attracted businesses that included an organ factory, a winery, a brickworks, and other essential stores to serve the community. He also enticed a number of French Canadian families living in Chicago to move to the new town of St. Joseph. For a while, the town experienced growth and there were signs things would go as planned. Fate intervened in the form of World War 1 and there were no funds for the canal. That sealed the doom of St. Joseph and the dream of Narcisse Cantin. The three-story Balmoral Hotel was demolished in 1920 without ever having a guest.


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