The Appleton General Store and Polly Parrot


appleton river

Mississippi River before the dam at Appleton

*NLRM 2012.19.3
Late 1800s – Early 1900s
Donated by Jim Lowry
Appleton general store-1940s Trish Stewart

Tom Arthur ran the General Store in Appleton for quite a long time. One year Tom and his wife took a trip to Ireland to trace their ancestors one year. Before returning home; they purchased a parrot which became a great attraction and pet with the numerous customers at the General Store. The language the bird used at times was “questionable”, and it was said by many that the bird had been taught by some wayward sailor.



Appleton store 2014

The picture taken below is by famed photographer  Malak Karsh. It portrays Mr. R. Lyons putting farm fresh eggs into a bag. In the picture are Mr. Lyon’s daughter Helen and Irene and Barbara Dunn being served by Mr. Lyons. Mr. Karsh came to Appleton after the war and spent a week filming the village. Lyons General Store in Appleton. —Elesnor Wright

You might be interested in the question of why the “country store” is pretty much extinct. Yes, Walmart’s ascent is a significant contributor, but also the Law of Unintended Consequences and EPA regulations played a major role.

EPA regulations from about 20 to 25 years ago mandated that store owners or gas distributors who owned underground gasoline storage tanks, replace said tanks and also have them tested for leaks and other costly mandates. Well, these country stores (that used to dot the landscape), didn’t sell enough gas to justify what would have been a major expense (at least $10,000 at the time if memory serves). The result: The tanks were simply pulled out of the ground and the stores quit selling gasoline. This significant change in business almost certainly contributed to their demise. (Did you notice they sold gas at the Appleton General Store? Check the 1940s photo carefully. Again this is why photos matter!)



Photo– Date:
Appleton, Town of Mississippi Mills, Ontario, Canada
North Lanark Regional Museum (2012.79.12.2)
Photographer: Malak Karsh
Donated by Eleanor Wright & Irene Dunn Thompson



Top Photo

NLRM 2012.19.3
Late 1800s – Early 1900s
Donated by Jim Lowry

Black and white photograph showing the Mississippi River at Appleton, Ontario. The woolen mill is featured on the left side of the photograph. The photo is from the late 19th century, early 20th century. The photo was definitely taken after 1880 when the three-storey addition was added to the woolen mill but before the construction of the dam in 1937.

The woolen mill was built in 1862 by Robert Teskey and was known as the Mississippi Woolen Mills until 1900 when it was taken over by Thomas Boyd Caldwell. In 1937, William Collie purchased the mill and petitioned to the Ontario Hydro Electric Power Corporation to have hydro brought to Appleton, Ontario. In 1937 a dam was built at Appleton to generate hydro-electricity.


 - FINE GENERAL STORE 35; In village of Appleton....

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  29 Oct 1949, Sat,  Page 35


Both top and bottom photo from the North Lanark Regional Museum

Middle Photo- Linda Seccaspina


647 River Road
Almonte, Ontario
(613) 257-8503

Photos from the North Lanark Regional Museum

Thanks to Patti Ann Giles
My husband’s grandfather, John Anthony McGregor (married to Margaret Christine Newman), owned and operated the general store in Appleton from 1899-1931. He also ran the Post Office from 1913-1931. He lost everything except his house during the depression because he gave too much credit. He said he couldn’t see people go hungry.



About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

11 responses »

  1. Linda, the only picture taken by Malak Karsh is the one with Mr. R. Lyons putting eggs into a bag. In the picture are Mr. Lyon’s daughter Helen and Irene and Barbara Dunn being served by Mr. Lyons. Mr. Karsh came to Appleton after the war and spent a week filming the village.


  2. Which Tom Arthur visited Ireland and bought the parrot? Was it Thomas Campbell Arthur or his uncle Thomas Arthur who ran the general store before him?
    David Lavoie


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