Mr John McNeill. 1895. Resembles the villain in a Charlie Chaplin film.
In the centre of the bay, commanding a splendid view stood the George Hotel, a building which had been licensed for a long number of years. It was tenanted by Mr John McNeill, a model landlord, who, with his long experience and knowledge of Gaelic as well as English.
Mr John McNeill was born in Tobermory, where he was educated, showing a liking for his studies. On leaving school he came to Paisley and was apprenticed by Mr Neil McLean to learn the trade of Baking.
On completing his apprenticeship, with credit to himself and satisfaction to his employer, Mr McNeill thought he would like to see the world, so joining the Anchor Line service in the old ‘Europa’. Curious enough, on her first voyage after he left her, the Captain and first and third mates were washed off the bridge and drowned.
Wishing to see more of the world and better his position, he joined the S.S Alps, belonging to Messrs. Langlands & Wilson of Glasgow. In her he traded to the South American ports, and took the position of assistant steward. Again changing for the better, he joined the crew of the City Line, in whose steamers he sailed for three years.
Leaving the foreign trade, though not the ‘Life on the ocean wave’, he came nearer home and accepted the position of cook, the position he had held in the City Line, in MacBraynes’ Highland boats, where he remained for seven years. Thinking he had sailed long enough, and that a life ashore might suit him, Mr McNeill took the George Hotel, Oban, and at once, with characteristic energy, set to work to improve the premises and bring them up-to-date.
His cellars, built as an addition, are kept in a way that would do credit to establishments of much greater pretentious. He also added, as who was better able to do so?, a kitchen and a handsome new bar. The hotel accommodates twenty sleepers, just a nice number to obtain the personal attention and care to the genial landlord and his comely wife, who ably assisted him in the conduct of the hotel.
Mr McNeill was a zealous Freemason of Lodge No. 413, “Athole” Glasgow, a keen sportsman, fond of the gun and rod, hard-working, upright, and industrious.