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Glory Days of Carleton Place–Mike Kean



Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


mikek   Today’s guest author is Mike Kean formerly of Carleton Place- thanks Mike!


After the Kean’s moved from Sudbury Mike Kean’s father became the town engineer and wanted his children to fit in and meet people in Carleton Place. That initial summer Mike began working at Lake Park Lodge but only lasted a month. In those days being employed at the lodge meant you had to live in the vicinity, and he really didn’t know anyone that could accommodate him.



Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


Mike soon got a job at Bennett’s Butcher Shop and was over the moon. He knew he would certainly meet people as everyone knew the building at the corner of Bell and Bridge streets. Iconic Austin Bennett (Aunie) was the father, and Bill the son, and everybody in town would come to buy their meat as the Bennett’s were a very well known family in Carleton Place.

ben 35

Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Mike remembers going with Mr. McRae to pick up cattle for the slaughter house on High Street. That was a frightening experience for him, but you had to do it as part of your job. Mike was never fond of seeing the cattle being slaughtered, hung to bleed, and then gutted. In the Spring, they had to go to the farmer’s yards to catch the little lambs for the same fate.  Mike admits he pretended he wasn’t very good at catching them.



Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


The store was on the main level and the grocery storage was in the basement. The staff would open a basement window to load in the boxes of canned food and cereal and there was also a trap door at the back of the store that you would lift to go down into the basement. Mike figures the building must have been at least a hundred years old then.

Shirley Robillard and Ruth Ferguson would try to teach you the ropes and how to take care of customers and bag groceries, plus deliver orders to people’s homes within walking distance, or carry them out to their cars. The butchers would cut meat to order and thus the beef would pile up on the block all day long. Unlike today, when everything comes prepackaged or if you go to the butcher shop, they have to cut, put away and clean before moving on to the next customer. There were no rules back in the day for sure, and today the health inspectors would go wild.


Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


Mike was actually head hunted and moved down Bridge Street to the Dominion Store at the corner of Bridge and Franklin because of  his experience. I asked him who the head hunter was and he said, “Terry Vincent was the man!” A lot of people in Carleton Place know him well as he was a real genuine person.

The manager of the store was from Smiths Falls and his name was Mickey Pickup (no joke). One of Mike’s fellow employees was Noreen O’ Brien from Appleton.  Mike stayed with Dominion Stores and ended up working in every Dominion store in Eastern Ontario  through the growing years. He became the youngest manager in Canada when he took over the store in Perth at 25. 

In the 1970s, inflation and discounting wars with rivals ravaged Dominion’s bottom line. Dominion stores was Canada’s No. 1 grocery chain from the 1950s through the early ’80s. Then, in 1985, it came to a quiet,  wrenching, end. But, thankfully thanks to the internet Mike Kean’s memories don’t- and I for one am grateful for his memories for this series.


Joann Voyce--1950’s Note the parking meters, the street lights and the 1950’s era cars in the picture.

Lynne JohnsonI remember the Bennett’s let Ken Young use the dock at the abattoir. I was friends with Randy, Ken’s 2nd son. We would drive through a dirt/rut road past the cattle waiting. I HATED that part. Then we would jump in the boat and head down the Mississippi.

Heather Lalonde-So interecting! Linda I think that second last building on the right is the hair loft? (Yes it is Heather!)

Danielle Neil–The Bennett’s Butcher was operated by my great uncle. My Grandfather, Gordon Bennett, also ran a butchery in a small store at the front of my Mother’s childhood home in Carleton Place.

In a sad note Micky Pickup died this year


Obituary for “Mickey” Harold James Pickup

Peacefully at the Smiths Falls Hospital on Monday, April 4, 2016 in his 85th year. Beloved husband of the late Jacqui Pickup (nee Adams). Loving father of Judy Ligetfalvy and husband Les, Steve Pickup and wife Licia, Ric Pickup and wife Cathy, Kelly Pickup and wife Maureen and Randy Pickup and wife Teresa. Cherished grandfather of Leslie, Steven, Brenon, Juleya, Kyle, Tabetha, Krystal, Nicholas, Jennifer, Britney, Shawna, Stefanie and Mic. Dear brother of Nick Pickup and wife Ola and Robert Pickup and wife Diane. Fondly remembered by his many nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
As per Mickey’s wishes, bio-cremation has taken place. A private family service will be held at a later date. As expressions of sympathy, donations to a Charity of Your Choice would be appreciated by the family. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Lannin Funeral Home, Smiths Falls. Online condolences available at http://www.lannin.ca

Related reading:

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Glory Days in Carleton Place– Norma Ford

Glory Days in Carleton Place– Lynne Johnson

Glory Days in Carleton Place– Linda Seccaspina