There was More, More, Just Inside the Door

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Bennett’s store on the corner of Bridge and Bell Street–Photos from Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

 

A long time ago sugar used to be sold in barrels, along with  good old brown sugar– and there wasn’t a plastic bag around in sight.  My Grandmother Mary Louise Deller Knight used to often remind me to be careful of using sugar as she remembered when sugar was a luxury. She smiled when she remembered the sugar barrels in her neighbourhood London, England store were empty  and then they were removed to the store’s rear yard, where the kids hurried out of their homes like bees, to that great treat of salvaging a tasty scrapings where miraculously enough no germs were known to scare the children away.

My late Mother on the other hand spent a geat deal of time on her Grandfather’s farm in island Brook Quebec where eggs were loaded into the back of the car and brought to the local general store. Milking was done twice a day beginning at 6 a.m.; initially by hand then later by machine. The milk was put into cans and taken down to the railway tracks for transport. She remembers getting 5 cents an hour for helping out. Even though the fields and roads were frequently flooded in winter, they met the schedule with aching hands from handling the bone–chilling dairy cans.

The “general store,” which carried a wide range of merchandise, was an important part of small towns. Not only did they offer food, housewares, clothing and equipment, they also served as a gathering place where residents could exchange news and gossip. At at my local store on South Street in Cowansville, Quebec there would be a big round of cheese covered with a glass cover. The clerk would cut wedges from the round and weigh them on a two-foot-high scale. The scale display was at the top and it had a big round glass that you put your item on it to be weighed.

I don’t remember much fresh produce in those days except what came from my Grandmother’s garden. Shelves of  canned vegetables and fruit were sold,  and depending on the store sometimes Peanut Butter came in a big container.Then there were the rows and rows of cookies not sold in boxes and penny candy.

There were no credit cards in those days and people paid cash for purchases, although some paid by cheque  but most had a credit account.  I remember picking up things after school for my Grandmother and asking them just to charge it– which the last person I remember having charge accounts in Carleton Place was Fred Veenstra from the Maple Leaf Dairy.

A typical day in Christie’s store on South Street meant arriving at about 6 in the morning and closing up at 5 or 6 in the evening. On Fridays, they stayed open until 9 p.m. After unlocking the store in the morning, the first order of business was to sweep the sidewalk. Then would begin stocking the shelves.

I can still see the large counter along the side wall. Shelves along the walls held the canned goods and next to them was the bread. It was a long time before  I remember a store acquiring the conveniences of shopping buggies. Before that, each shopper would call in their order by phone in the morning or hand their shopping list to the clerk  who would gather all the items up and put them on the counter, while the customer was free to visit or do other shopping.

Of course business was still competitive, but the relationship among competitors was amicable and the merchants from the other stores would often exchange information on prices and made joint decisions.If one of them dropped a price, the others would soon learn of it from their customers and would match it, or discount another item to keep the customer’s loyalty.

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Mike KeanWhat a great picture Linda. I worked there as a young teenager. The man in the foreground is “Taffy” Williams. He was so kind. The man at the back is Mr Bennett but I don’t know if it was Bill or Aunie. They were quite a father and son duo and knew everybody in town. Ground beef was 3 pounds for a dollar. Our current dept of health, labour and agriculture would have had a hey day there and yet we all lived.

Patti Ann GilesSo true Mike! My mom used to send me to get 25 cents worth cold meat for lunches and Taffy would always give a couple of extra slices! Lots of great memories growing up in small town CP.

Kenneth Jackson— yes Taffy Williams in the front and Ruth Ferguson just to his left.

 Does anyone remember when Mr. Bill Bennet sr. deliverd meats and such with a horse and small cart.

RELATED READING:

Where’s the Beef in Carleton Place?

Memories of Ruth Ferguson

The Days of the Loosey Cigarette, Slinky and Mailing a Letter

Dollars Worth of Gas in Carleton Place

Treasured Memories of Fred and the Maple Leaf Dairy

Looking for Memories of Harold Linton’s Gas Station

Memories and Thoughts of the Grocery Store

The Day Mike Muldowan’s House Burnt Down

Before the Stompin Tom Mural….There Was

Did You Know Who was Cooking in Back of Lancaster’s Grocery Store? Dr. Howard I Presume! – Part 3

 

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.

4 responses »

  1. Bennie O’Meara worked the Abattoir (which we called the Slaughterhouse) for Bennetts. It was up off of High Street by the river. As you can imagine, a lot of bloody water was once flushed out of there and we all survived. Now beautiful homes have replaced the Abattoir

    Liked by 1 person

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