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May. 16, 2003

General stores were heart of communities

I get a variety of comments on my Heritage Perspectives columns– phone calls, emails, letters and personal contact. Today I want to share some of the interesting items that add to the information already provided in the original article on General Stores recorded here in January.

ERVA GRASSER – Trout Creek

Erva, who works at Oshell’s ValuMart in Powassan, showed me a post card showing the early general store at Loring (see photo). The card dated August 30, 1902 was found in her mother’s files and had been sent to her grandmother’s brother George Linklater. George worked on the Trout Creek Logging Railway and was away in Quebec when a co-worker wrote him. The card reported progress on the rail line heading from Trout Creek toward Algonquin Park. It stated that “we have about 3 miles to go. The engine went off the track twice yesterday – got home at half past eight.”

Ed Kelcey’s General Store at Loring

The general store shown on the post card was owned by Ed Kelcey. He had the store at McConkey Corners (approximately where McConkey, Hardy, Wilson and Mills Townships meet) when lumbering was active there. A history book called McConkey Corners produced by the Argyle Community Library 20 years ago provides some excellent information on the store and Mr. Kelcey.

In the early days settlers in Loring and nearby had to travel to Dunchurch for supplies. Seeing an opportunity Bob and Betty Robertson came from Dunchurch to Loring in 1884 and established a general store and boarding house on the NW corner of the four roads that joined at McConkey Corners. They stayed until 1900.

Mrs. Geo. Kelcey Sr. who ran a general store at Dunchurch sent her son Edward to Loring about the same time to open a general store. George Kelcey had been killed in an accident in his sawmill. The store opened in a log building in December 1885 and a New Year’s party was held upstairs on January 1, 1886. Edward built a large frame store in 1905. That’s Ed in his new store in the photo. He married, built a fine home, became a leader in the community, retired in 1929 and died in 1941 at age 63. A photo of his house and store are shown in the McConkey Corners History book.

CLEVE WAY – Callander

The family of Cleve Way, who grew up on the 12th Concession in South Himsworth, shopped in Powassan and at the Alderdale General Store in Chisholm. Cleve and I have talked on a number of occasions and he sent me an email in response to the article on general stores. He remembered the Porter general store in Powassan where Mr. Porter provided some mortgages and ended up with considerable property in the area when some of the mortgages were defaulted.

Alderdale General Store – Chisholm Township.

Alderdale on the CNR line in Chisholm Township was a key stop with a station and two general stores. (The inside of one of the stores was shown in the previous article). Sawmills at Kiosk and Brent and Baechler’s mill at Kilrush and others bought extensively at Alderdale. Cleve recalled a childhood experience of going to the Alderdale store with his brother to get a large bag of oatmeal for the family. They were returning to their farm on the 12th Concession (now Memorial Park Drive) when they had an accident with their sleigh on the gravel road in front Abraham Gauthier’s house (now Bob Gray’s). Cleve said “I can still hear dad’s teeth grinding while eating the oatmeal the next morning.”


Lewis Seale, son of Dorothy Anderson of the Anderson Clan in Chisholm and a cousin to the late Richard Anderson who provided the photo of what I called the Mick Store shown in the last article. His mother is the young girl in the rocking chair with her hands on her face playing shy. Lewis, through his mother and previous conversations with Richard Anderson, informs me that the Mick Store changed hands and was taken over by Tommy Anderson, his grandfather, and Edward Thomas Kelly. The people in the photo are primarily Andersons and Kellys. Tommy Anderson, Lewis’ grandfather, is shown third from the left in the photo.

Kelly and Anderson General Store – Chisholm Township

The Kelly family lived near the store and it is believed that Mr. Kelly is the Kelly mentioned as co-owner of the Kelly and Baird sawmill in Chisholm in the early days.

Kelly had served in the military for 20 years and fought in the Boer War. When WWI started he enlisted and served as a Major. He was killed in 1915 at the second battle of Ypres. This is the battle where John McCrae wrote his classic Canadian war poem “In Flanders Fields.” The Kelly and Anderson store did well in the boom connected with the building of the railway and even had a small satellite store closer to the railway as it was being built. All that remains of the original today is a rise covered with pines on the SE corner of Pioneer and Boundary Road in Chisholm.

Thanks to Erva, Cleve, and Lewis for sharing their information with me and the readers of Community Voices.

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