When I moved to Carleton Place in 1981 I bought my meat on the corner of Bridge and Bell Street. I remember butcher, Danny Joly, like it was yesterday. He ran a tight ship, and he was everyone’s best friend. Before Danny, there was J.E. Bennett and Sons in that same location. James opened his business in the 1800’s and four generations ran that shop until it closed.
I found this recently when cleaning out a drawer. Danny’s meat market 1980s.
In those days the Bennett’s store had to close down in the afternoon so they could go buy their meat. That meant dealing with farmers and then personally slaughtering it to sell. In the winter they had to haul ice from the Mississippi River to store in their ice box to keep the meat frozen in the summer. Word on the street was that it was so cold in the store in the winter, no one even thought about ice.
Like any family run business the Bennett’s got to work side by side with their families and pass their business down, which happens less and less these days. I have many memories of watching butchers making crown roasts of lamb for my family, and hearing comments like: “she wants four ribs off the small end” still lives with me.
I can remember that the butcher shop at Christmas was a magical place. I used to stand beside my Grandmother and watch her hand in her slip of paper for a dressed turkey she had ordered weeks ago. While they looked for it in the cooler they offered us a slice of fruit cake or a warm drink. In later years she bought a whole turkey at Thanksgiving and took her axe out and chopped that sucker in half. We ate one half for Thanksgiving and the other piece she froze for Christmas.
Nothing lasts forever, but memories still do.
James E. Bennett – 1860/1927
Mayor of Carleton Place – 1904-1906 – Grocers and Butcher, est. 1883.