Tag Archives: IGA

Johnny Erskine at 90 — Joe Banks

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By Joe Banks, Gazette editor — read Mr. Mississippi Beauty Pageant 1982 Joe Banks

Johnny Erskine pulls another head of celery from the basket and, without losing rhythm, pitches a browning stalk into the “o u t” pile. ‘ If I wasn’t at work I’d be dead,” he says with his trademark grin. “ I get tired o f sleeping, tired o f eating and sitting around, I like to keep busy,” And though the man works away on this day as if ii were any other back in the produce preparation room at the Almonte IGA , he’s aware of ihe interviewer, and cocks his brow higher with each passing question. 

“I think you’ve got more writing there than you know what to do with,” Johnny says, looking from the celery stalk to the interviewer’s face and back. And then he flashes that grin that’s been with him for all of his years, which officially add up to 90 this Friday, Feb 27th, modestly waving off his celebrity status as the oldest IGA employee in Canada and likely North America, il anybody’s counting. 

It’s an exciting day for John. A reporter from the Loeb Gazette, the company’s newsletter, and the local press were up to see him earlier in the day at his house on Union Street. There, he talked about all that he’d seen, all the changes to the store, the town and himself. He’s a walking advertisement against mandatory retirement, this remarkable man who still, as a valued member of the IGA staff working 20 hours a week, can still clearly remember dates, places and names as if they were written on a piece of paper in front of him. 

His interviewers could only blink and shake their heads when he told them about ihe buck he shot this past fall while out deer hunting. And that he got a perfect score on the renewal test to update his driver’s license. And he only needs glasses to drive. He tells his story hesitatingly, walking back and forth from his bedroom to dig out his collection of photographs that help lo spur his memory. 

Tom Edwards
December 2, 2017  · 

I’m not sure but I think this is the Clayton Store when my great uncle Johnny Erskine and Aunt Essie owned it.

Born in 1897 near Clayton, Johnny’s earliest memories in the service business go back to when he was a young teenager of 14. Hard, backbreaking labor was the name of the game, but for a Lanark County boy eager to work, it was a challenge. With wagon and tea and team of horses, the boy drew 40 – 100 pound bags of flour for Wylie’s Flour Mills to locations all around Almonte, and as a driver was expected to then, unloaded them.

“I could shoulder those and walk to the house for my dad,” John recollected, other equally burdensome loads included boxes of cheese weighing 95 pounds each and coarse salt weighing 150 pounds per bag. 

And then there was the wood that John cut and delivered, about 4,000 face cord a year to locations all over ihe area. When he wasn’t drawing lor Wylie’s, John toiled on the family farm. His dad bought the Clayton General Store in 1902, From 1920 until his father died in 1932, young John made his keep in the winter too, cutting ice blocks with Harold Robertson. 

The men supplied all of Almonte’s homes as well as Louis Peterson’s ice cream plant, to the tune of 11,000 blocks a year. Each block weighed about 250 pounds and took both men with ice tongs to lift. ” If you can work with the water, they just pop out,” says John, explaining that a delicate balance between the pressure of the water and the weight of the block had to be established to prevent the ice from flooding around the cutting site. After his father died in the early depression years of 1932, John took over ownership of the store. They were tough limes, little money was in circulation, but people bartered for what they had. They were years when, as John’s own accounting books attest, customers could buy a gallon of coal oil for 25 cents and a “roll” of bread, seven cents. You could get six face cord of wood for $30, That was a very tradable commodity to be used, of course, for fuel. At the bottom of one of his account books a notation reads alter a total of $109.90, “Credit on wood got from Lee – $20,” ” I took wood for groceries,” John remembers of his days as proprietor of the Clayton store. “You just had to make a living then,” he reflects with a touch of emotion in his voice. “Nowadays they look alter you if you’re not. I wish some of the younger people could see what we went through then, but I wouldn’t want to go back through it again.” 

Despite the tough times, other business opportunities didn’t go by unnoticed. When the Almonte Fur Farmer’s Co-op, out of which the IGA now operates, went bankrupt in 1947, he bought it. The stone building on the corner of the Heritage Mall parking lot and Mill Street was a cold storage plant, equipped with over 500 lockers in use for storage of meat and government butter supplies. Asked why he decided to buy, John quips, “Well, when I went down the street. I didn’t have a counter to sit on so I decided something had to be done. read-Cold Storage Plant in Almonte- Meat Locker Trivia

Tom Edwards
December 28, 2017  · 

Looks like supper with Grandma Edwards. Mom, Dad, Ruth Craig, Eldon Craig, maybe Josie Symington at the end of the table, next one I don’t know, then Uncle Johnny and Essie Erskine.

Brenda Craig Shewchukfrom left, Ilene, John, Ruth, Eldon, Mr. Symington, (owned the house) Brian Fumerton, Uncle Johnny, Aunt Essie, Elsie, Ray,

He ran the busmens until he converted it to a grocery operation In 1954, he became affiliated with IGA through Loeb Inc and in the store with the help ol Howard Boal and Norman Him until 1967 when he offered a partnership to the two. They jointly owned and operated the business until 1975 when John gave up his partnership in the business. 

Bui between the years of his original purchase and the time his two partners took over, the Almonte IGA had been expanded and renowned seven times. But here he is, still on stall and still pulling in his 20 hours a week. In a world of job disagreements and early retirements, John says keeping active at work is one one of the keys to his long and healthy life. Include in that list the fact that he never smoked or drank “a day in my life”, has a passion for Pepsi (“I never drank a beer but I can’t get myself lull ol Pepsi”) and still revels in his once-a-year hobby; hunting. “ I never missed a fall” he says of the annual deer hunt.

Still likes a good game ole euchre and likes to lead Bill. His wife was the former Issie Rath, who died a few years ago this June. They were in their 64th year of marriage.’She was a good wife,” John said quietly, emotions welling up. And there has been no regrets. ‘I’ve had a damned good hie God has been good to me. Feb 1987 Almonte Gazette

John L Erskine
BIRTH
1897
DEATH
1992 (aged 94–95)
BURIAL
Saint George’s Anglican Cemetery
Union Hall, Lanark County, Ontario, Canada  Show Map
MEMORIAL ID
130008966 · View Source

Other stories to read

Things You Didn’t Know About Johnny Erskine

Uncle Johnnie Erskine and Stewart Ferguson by Tom Edwards

Cold Storage Plant in Almonte- Meat Locker Trivia

Colliding Into the IGA — Carleton Place

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Colliding Into the IGA — Carleton Place

 

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In January of 1969 two cars were badly damaged and part of the IGA storefront was damaged. The IGA store suffered considerable damage as one of the vehicles ploughed into the storefront but thankfully was stopped by a steel window post.

The car of D. L. Linton was parked on the west side of Bridge Street just north of Albert. He was pulling away from the curb when his car was struck almost centre by another car also proceeding south and driven by Gerald Stearns.

Force of the collision carried the McLinton car sideways and it went into the centre window of the IGA store. Both vehicles were very badly damaged. Mr. McLinton was taken to the  hospital by the Alan R. Barker ambulance and treated for minor injuries.

Beside the large plate glass window in the IGA, damage included destruction of a section of concrete shelf inside the window, part of a concrete slab shelving and exterior brickwork from ground level to the window.

 

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte

  1. relatedreading

The Old Grocery Counter –Calvin Moore

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

Memories and Thoughts of the Grocery Store

Dishing up the Memories of The Devlins

Glory Days of Carleton Place–Mike Kean

Memories of Ruth Ferguson

Where’s the Beef in Carleton Place?

Name That Carleton Place Butcher? FOUND!!!

Memories of Argue’s Food Market?

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

In Memory of Mickey Pickup– Carleton Place Dominion Store

The Writing on the Wall Disappeared but the Memories Don’t

Uncle Johnnie Erskine and Stewart Ferguson by Tom Edwards

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Uncle Johnnie Erskine and Stewart Ferguson by Tom Edwards
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 Photo from Tom Edwards
Author’s Note:
I cannot do this without all of you. I try to document all your comments although it has been slow for me the past few weeks due to the heart attacks– but it’s getting there.:) But, any time you send me something or comment we are recording local history for all those generations to come. I am so honoured to share what you write and comment. Keep them coming.
This note from Tom Edwards made my day this week. Thank you Tom!
Hi Linda
Pretty cool to read and see the article you posted on my Uncle Johnny the other day. 
Johnny Erskine was married to Essie Rath. Johnny was my grandmothers brother on my dads side. My dad, John Edwards, was named after his uncle Johnny, and therefore, he was actually my great uncle. I can remember when people drove from far and wide, to get some of Uncle Johnny’s coleslaw at the IGA in Almonte. I can remember my dad taking the family to Almonte when I was a kid, to get groceries at the IGA, and moreso specifically for that coleslaw.
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Photo-Tom Edwards–My great aunt and uncle Johnny and Essie Erskine.

Sometimes if Johnny wasn’t too busy, he would flip my dad enough money to buy us a “Mellowroll” across the street from the IGA, at Petersons Ice Cream. The problem was Uncle Johnny was, shall we say thrifty lol, and he usually gave dad enough money to finance two cones, but there were three of us and it ended up being a nice gesture, but I can remember my dad laughing and saying that each time it would end up costing him money. 
 - Carleton Place Attract Crowd Harness Races of...
It was around 1982 that Uncle Johnny traded in his 1964 Pontiac Parisienne for a 1982 Pontiac Phoenix. I can remember him calling my mom, (my dad died in 1980), and speaking with her about how crazy the drivers were on Hwy 7. He had taken a drive to Perth with his new vehicle, and he drove 60. LOL His new car was in kilometers, lol not like the old Pontiac, and he just couldn’t believe all the cars that passed him and blew their horn at him. 
I have also attached a photo I took of the waiting station across from the store in Clayton. I noticed it last summer and took some photos of it to send to my brother and sister. I have enclosed my photo of it. Just for your information, my Uncle Johnny would be the citizen of the year, Connor Edwards, great, great uncle.
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Connor Edwards has been named the Carleton Place Citizen of the Year for 2016. On Friday, Dec. 2, Edwards was honoured for his contribution to the youth of the community, during the municipality’s annual appreciation night, which took place in the upper hall of the Neelin Street Community Centre. Bob and Joan Bennett, the recipients from last year, made the announcement in front of a capacity crowd. Pictured, from left: Joan, Edwards, Bob and Jan Ferguson, the Carleton Place Citizen of the Year for 2014. – Tara Gesner/Metroland
My great uncle Stweart Ferguson would be also an intriguing story. He used to have the stable on High Street at Mary and Glen Millers house across the road from Findlays. I was there many times as a kid. I can remember very well, the horse track they had on High Street out near Hwy 7, and also the track he used to run the horses on on the corner of Bridge and Townline, across from the Town View apartments.
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Photo from the Carleton Place Canadian files by the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
I remember as a kid, going to his house on William Street, and him giving me half a dozen ribbons he had won at local fairs. His shed wall was covered with them. I would estimate that he had 3-400 ribbons. He had horses for as long as I can remember. He was also recognized by Rideau Carleton Raceway, and was awarded I believe it to be an Honorary Lifetime Member. 
 
Thank you again, for all your articles. It is a must read every day.
Sincerely,
Tom Edwards

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

historicalnotes
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More horse racing in Carleton Place and Carleton Place horses taken to Buckingham…Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 04 Jul 1963, Thu, Page 14
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Those horse shows in Carleton Place. Horse races at Lake Park and later on on High Street near Bennetts— click on the photo to read it all.. Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 11 Jun 1907, Tue, Page 6
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400 to watch Kart races on High Street.. Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 12 Aug 1960, Fri, Page 40 CLICK on photo to read
relatedreading

Wild Horses Could Not Drag Me Away

You’ve Got Trouble in Franktown-Dead Horses and Wives

 

Glory Days in Carleton Place— Jan McCarten Sansom

Glory Days in Carleton Place- Ray Paquette

Glory Days of Carleton Place-The Olde Barracks– Sharon Holtz– Part 2 

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The Oldest IGA Employee & Other Almonte Memories

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The Oldest IGA Employee & Other Almonte Memories

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 Lifelong area resident wins fame as oldest IGA employee in Canada.

John L. Erskine – 27 Febuary 1897/26 December 1992 – 95 years.

By Joe Banks, Gazette Editor:

Johnny Erskine pulls another head of celery from the basket and, without losing rhythm, pitches a browning stalk in to the “old” pile.

“If I wasn’t at work I’d be dead,” he says with his trademark grin. “I get tired of sleeping, tired of eating and sitting around. I like to keep busy.”

And though the man works away on this day as if it were any other back in the produce preparation room at the Almonte IGA, he’s aware of the interviewer, and cocks his brow higher with each passing question.

“I think you’ve got more writing there than you know what to do with,” Johnny says, looking from the celery stalk to the interviewer’s face and back.

And then he flashes that grim that’s been with him for all of his years, which officially add up to 90 this Friday, Feb 27th, modestly waving off his celebrity status as the oldest IGA employee in Canada and likely North America, if anybody’s counting.

It’s an exciting day for John. A reporter from the Loeb Gazette, the company’s newsletter, and the local press were up to see him earlier in the day at his house on Union street.

There, he talked about all that he’d seen, all the changes to the store, the town and himself. He’s a walking advertisement against mandatory retirement, this remarkable man who still, as a valued member of the IGA staff working 20 hours a week, can still clearly remember dates, places and names as if they were written on a piece of paper in front of him.

His interviewers could only blink and shake their heads when he told them about the buck he shot this past fall while out deer hunting. And that he got a perfect score on the renewal test to update his driver’s license. And he only needs glasses to drive.

He tells his story hesitatingly, walking back and forth from his bedroom to dig out his collection of photographs that help to spur his memory,

Born in 1897 near Clayton, Johnny’s earliest memories in the service business go back to when he was a young teenager of 14. Hard, backbreaking labor was the name of the game, but for a Lanark County boy eager to work, it was a challenge.

With wagon and team of horses, the boy drew 40 – 100 pound bags of flour for Wylie’s Flour Mills to locations all around Almonte, and as a driver was expected to then, unload them.

“I could remember shoulder those and walk to the house for my dad,” John recollected. Other equally burdensome loads included boxes of cheese weighing 95 pounds each and coarse salt weighing 150 pounds per bag. And then there was the wood that John cut and delivered, about 4,000 face cord a year to locations all over the area.

When he wasn’t drawing for Wylie’s, John toiled on the family farm. His dad bought the Clayton General Store, now Gemmill’s Store, 1902.

From 1920 until his father died in 1932, young John made his keep in the winter too, cutting ice blocks with Harold Robertson. The men supplied all of Almonte’s homes as well as Louis Peterson’s ice cream plant, to the tune of 11,000 blocks a year.

Each block weighed about 250 pounds and took both men with ice tongs to lift.

“If you can work with the water, they just pop out,” says John, explaining that a delicate balance between the pressure of the water and the weight of the block had to be established to prevent the ice from flooding around the cutting site.

After his father died in the early depression years of 1932, John took over the ownership of the store. They were tough times. Little money was in circulation, but people bartered for what they had.

They were years when, as John’s own accounting books attest, customers could buy a gallon of coal oil for 25 cents and a “roll” of bread, seven cents. You could get six face cord of wood for $30. That was a very tradable commodity to be used, of course, for fuel. At the bottom of one of his account books a notation reads after a total of $109.90, “Credit on wood got from Lee – $20.”

“I took wood for groceries,” John remembers of his days as proprietor of the Clayton store.

“You just had to make a living then.” He reflects with a touch of emotion in his voice. “Nowadays they look after you if you’re not. I wish some of the younger people could see what we went through then, but I wouldn’t want to go back through it again.”

Despite the tough times, other business opportunities didn’t go by unnoticed. When the Almonte Fur Farmer’s Co-Op, out of which the IGA now operates, went bankrupt in 1947, he bought it. The stone building on the corner of the Heritage Mall parking lot and Mill Street was a cold storage plant, equipped with over 500 lockers in use for storage of meat and government butter supplies.

Asked why he decided to buy, John quips, “Well, when I went down the street, I didn’t have a counter to sit on so I decided something had to be done.”

He ran the business until 1952 when he converted it to a grocery operation. In 1954, he became affiliated with IGA through Loeb Inc., and ran the store with the help of Howard Boal and Norman Hutt until 1967 when he offered a partnership to the two. They jointly owned and operated the business until 1975 when John have up his partnership in the business.

In 1977, the store was sold to existing owner Gord Pike, who is marking his 10th anniversary as owner this year. At the time of the purchase, John planned to retire for the second time. The first was after running the general store in Clayton for the 15 years prior to his owning the IGA.

But here he is, still on staff and still putting in his 20 hours a week. In a world of job disgruntlement and early retirements, John says keeping active at work is one of the keys to his long and healthy life. Include in that list the fact that he never smoked or drank “a day in my life”, has a passion for Pepsi” (“I never drank a beer but I can’t get myself full of Pepsi”) and still revels in his once-a-year hobby; hunting.

“I never missed a fall” he says of the annual deer hunt, an activity he has routinely been engaged in for no less than 54 years.

“I have shot a lot of them over the years. When you’ve dogged for 60 years you have a lot of fun and see a lot of deer.”

John also still enjoys a good game of euchre and likes to read. But now many of the things he enjoyed are gone.

Among them is his wife, the former Essie Rath, who died six years ago this June. They were in their 64th year of marriage.

“She was a good wife.” John says quietly, emotions welling up.

And there’s been no regrets. “I’ve had a damned good life. God has been good to me. And I have no friends that I can’t say g’day to.”

The interviewer, seeing the man has work to do, closes off the final question asking John his impressions of turning 90 this Friday.

With another swipe of the knife and another fallen celery stalk in the back of the produce preparation department of the Almonte IGA, so long a part of his life, he puts it all in perspective.

“It’s only another year. And if I feel as good as I do now, I’ll live a long time yet.”

 

 

 

historicalnotes

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relatedreading

 

 

The Old Grocery Counter –Calvin Moore

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

Memories and Thoughts of the Grocery Store

Dishing up the Memories of The Devlins

Glory Days of Carleton Place–Mike Kean

Memories of Ruth Ferguson

Where’s the Beef in Carleton Place?

Name That Carleton Place Butcher? FOUND!!!

Memories of Argue’s Food Market?

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

In Memory of Mickey Pickup– Carleton Place Dominion Store

The Writing on the Wall Disappeared but the Memories Don’t

 

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Courtyard Cafe– Remembering The Old IGA in Carleton Place

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I realize there was another IGA where Dollar Tree is now situated in Carleton Place and I have posted pictures of that one, but I guess since this has long close it is still the ‘old’ IGA to me. Still sad to lose them both.

 

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Photos from the Carleton Place Canadian from the files of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum