Shaw’s of Perth


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Photo- Google Earth

Anne Thomlison commented yesterday on the  Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page–Who were the owners of Shaw’s of Perth over the years? Surely it isn’t still the Matheson family.

Here is what I found out…

R. Matheson & Co. general merchants, known later as Shaw’s of Perth, at 1 Gore Street East, was once one of the oldest Canadian businesses operating out of its original store since 1840. The Honourable Roderick Matheson built both his private home (now Matheson House- Perth Museum) and the store, which was also used as a saddle and harness shop. 

According to Canada’s Historic Places: the stone wall joins the two unique buildings on the corner of the two main streets and therefore is an integral part of the streetscape.  The town of Perth designated it a registered L.A.C.A.C. building Heritage Designated Property in 1984 and the store celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009.

The L-shaped building has a high gable roof and three chimneys. A cut-stone covered carriage archway connects the main building to the original coach house and stable along Foster Street (now the Goodwood Oven). The laneway is conveyed and designated as a free and uninterrupted right-of-way of ingress and egress for pedestrians.


The white house to the left is the original Matheson House that was moved and replaced by the stone building that is now home to the Perth Museum. Photo: Courtesy The Perth Museum-Perth Remembered


Henry D Shaw of Smiths Falls, married Flora, a daughter of Mr. Matheson, and opened a clothing store on the site in 1859. The store was originally fronting on Foster Street, because it was thought to be the main street in the mid-1800s. When it wasn’t a priority, the owners covered up the openings. The original sign, “The Store With a Smile – Shaw’s – Perfect Service”, can still be seen on the wall. It was in the family hands until the early 1980’s and iconic David Bromley’s (Perth Remembered) father was the manager of Shaws from the 1950s-1980s.

The store was also used as a print office for the seldom mentioned Perth Expositor (forerunner of The Perth Courier). When Lee Huddleston from Perth (read on Perth Remembered) was researching his family he travelled to  Toronto to tape an interview with Isobel Huddleson, then 94 years young. He told her he was having difficulty locating some information regarding particular family in the Perth Courier Archives.

Isobel bristled, leaned forward in her chair, and said,

“The Perth Courier!! Huddleston’s only ever read the Perth Expositor. We didn’t read that liberal rag!” 

When I used to go to Perth, I made a point of purchasing something from Shaw’s of Perth because I loved them, and especially the beautiful antique desk counter that had been in the store since 1875.

Tweed & Hickory who had stores in Cornwall and Kanata took over Shaw’s of Perth. Candas Serwa also made a comment that Price Teak Hair Fashions, originally owned and operated by Mr. Randy Cavanagh, had operated from the basement level of Shaw’s in the 70’s.

What do you remember about Shaw’s of Perth? Please comment and I will document it.



Picture taken c.1896, behind Shaw’s, of the two horse-power equipment that for many years ran the paper press of The Perth Expositor. At that time the plant was located in part of Shaw’s department store on Gore Street. Henry Kehoe (sitting) was in charge of the “merry-go-round”. The Hon. Col. A. J. Matheson, MPP for South Lanark and former Ontario Provincial Secretary was the publisher of the Expositor in 1896. Shown above, (left) include James Steacy, foreman George Jackman, William T. Noonan, Ed. C. Stone, in the window (left) Stanton Lee and Wiliam J. McCarthy. Photo: The Perth Courier-Perth Remembered


Monty Doyle emailed me and added the following information:

Hi Linda

I just read the article and other attachments.  Really well done.  I learned a lot!  Just few things to point out quickly.  One is that Walter Bromley was the manager of the Men’s wear which was a major part of the store operation.   My aunt Mrs. Norah Clemens was the manager of the ladies wear and was also the manager of the store over all.  Norah, and her 2 sisters Helen Shaw and Mary  Doyle (my mother) were the three owners of the store at the time of its sale.  It was sold in 1979 to a consortium of 4 businessmen in Perth led by Glen Crain.



David Bromley-Perth Remembered-I saved this Auction Poster from the garbage pile at Shaw’s when they were renovating the store after the “Shaw Girls” sold the store in the early 80’s. You would not believe what went out to the dump but I was able to get some great stuff. This poster would have been printed by the Perth Expositor that was on the second floor of Shaw’s at the time. This poster is dated Drummond 1887. George Devlin was the auctioneer.

PERTH, ONARIO- reconstruction after a fire of a commercial block for the Matheson Estate, for Shaw & McKerracher, 1898 (Perth Courier, 5 Aug. 1898, 5; 28 Oct. 1898, 6, descrip.)MARTIN, George Thomas (1844-1925) dominated the local architectural scene in Smith’s Falls, Ont. and in surrounding counties of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville for nearly twenty-five years. Born in Surrey, England he came to Canada in 1870 and settled in Toronto where he worked as a carpenter and builder. In 1879 or 1880 he moved to eastern Ontario where much of his work involved the construction of stations and bridges for the Canadian Pacific Railway, but his achievements in this field fall outside the scope of this work. In early 1889 he moved to Smith’s Falls and opened an architectural office (Rideau Record [Smith’s Falls], 2 May 1889, 4). Martin’s local fame rests largely on his ability to design distinctive and robust institutional and ecclesiastical works. He invariably adopted a brusque Romanesque Revival style for his large scale projects, taking advantage of the abundance of building stone found in the Hughes quarry near Perth. He also possessed a vision for the ‘grand plan’, setting out a scheme to connect all the summer resorts on the Rideau River with an electric railway (C.R., x, 16 Aug. 1899, 3). In 1907 he was the patentee of a method to improve the construction of railway coaches (C.A.B., xx, June 1907, x). Few works can be attributed to him after 1910. Martin died in Smith’s Falls on 4 March 1925 (obituary and port. in Smiths Falls Record News, 5 March 1925, 5).

-The Merchants, Professionals and Tradespeople of Perth, Gus Quattrocchi, Perth (1997)

The Merchants, Professionals and Tradespeople of Perth by Gus Quattrocchi. This book is a record of 180 years of history of the merchants of Perth. This book is available at the Museum and other merchants in downtown Perth. All proceeds from the sale of this book are directed to the continued good works of the Perth Museum.

To purchase this book: The Perth Museum


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun



About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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