Stores in Rawdon
The Gatineau Power Store
The Gatineau Power Company had its office and store on 4th Ave. (This building was later a five and dime store.
In the big window of the Power Company, they had lamps that I remember so well! The lamps were cylindrical in shape and had a metal top and base. When the lamp was plugged in, an inner celluloid colour wheel rotated from the heat of the bulb.
The changing colours and the motion of the revolving inner cylinder closely simulated moving water and leaping flames. Many times I stood and watched the scenes created by those lamps.
One scene was of Niagara Falls and one could easily imagine the roar of the water as it tumbled down.
Another scene was one a forest fire with the flames shooting upwards and the animals outlined against the fire. I particularly remember a deer running along. As a child it disturbed me to think of the poor, trapped, animals.
A train steaming along on the tracks with its headlights gleaming and wheels giving the illusion of turning was another fascinating scenario.
This was all in the late twenty’s or thirties, long before television, and such things were magic, especially to children.
Louis Crowe’s store can be seen in the left background. The store was directly across the street from the school. Metcalfe Street is in the foreground.
Louis Crowe had a store on 4th Avenue across from the school. A bell over the door of the store told them when someone arrived. On entering, to the left was the grocery counter with shelves displaying canned goods and boxes of food behind it.
In the glass enclosed “front” counter at the back of the store, there were glass jars and boxes of candies where we bought honeymoons (a honey fondant dipped in chocolate) sold two for one cent, caramels three for a cent, liquorice whips, pipes and chewing plugs, one cent each.
The black liquorice chewing plugs made one’s spit the colour of real chewing tobacco. Even the delicious taste, and nice brown tobacco stain on white snow they made they were not often chosen these as a cent was not easy to come by.
There were few ready packed biscuits at that time.
At the far end of the counter, large boxes of biscuits were stacked up. They sometimes had glass covers to keep them fresh. However, near the bottom of the box the marshmallow biscuits were stale, tough and chewy.
On the right side was the counter where the yard goods were measured out. There was a glass case where sewing thread and embroidery floss was available. There were not too many shades to choose from but enough to do us.
The Girls’ Guild was a good customer and more than once I was sent to purchase skeins of floss for Miss Kidd.
Coal oil or kerosene was kept in a shed built at the side of the store.
Potatoes and other root vegetables were kept in the cellar under the store accessible by a trapdoor in the middle of the floor.
Most of our school supplies – scribblers, erasers, pencils, pens, and ink were purchased at Crowe’s store.
I remember the store mostly when Walter Blagrave owned it.
Later Cecil Burns bought the store from Walter Blagrave.
It is now (2022) a dwelling.
Mrs. Harry Saunders’ Store
Mrs. Harry Saunders kept a store in the front two rooms of her house near the corner of Metcalfe and 2nd Avenue. You had to climb several steps to the front veranda and when you opened the door it would strike against an overhead bell announcing your arrival. At the sound of the bell Mrs. Saunders would timidly open her kitchen door and peek out before coming in to attend to a customer.
Mrs. Saunders had many cats. Often a cat or two had to be brushed off the counter before serving the arrival.
The right side of the counter was a glass case enclosing a glass shelf and displaying candies. It could only be reached from the opening in the back.
On the other end of the counter were the balance scales. In between were newspapers to wrap bread in.
A cone of white string sat on an upper shelf to tie parcels. The string wound down through a series of hooks on the ceiling and back to the counter below.
Mrs. Saunders kept the cardboard strips that divided the biscuits in their boxes. These were used as tally sheets to list purchases.
She always had short stubs of pencils that always seemed to need sharpening. Her pencils were sharpened with a knife as a sharpener used up too much pencil, especially if the lead broke during the process. Pencils were expensive – 2 cents if there was no eraser on the end.
Mother sent us to buy groceries that came in cans or packages. We did not relish eating cat hairs mixed in with our food. Finally, we stopped going as the bread and cheese was often stale, even mouldy.
When sanitary conditions became too much of an issue, Mother no longer sent us to the store. She had tried to patronize this store as it was difficult for an older widow to make a living as there was no pensions to rely on.
Arcade Marchand’s General Store
Arcade Marchand in Front of His Store
Arcade Marchand’s store was on the west side of Metcalfe at 2nd Avenue. This store was much larger than Mrs. Saunders’. It was attached to the house but not part of it.
Behind the store was another large building which housed hay and feed for animals. There was also a stable for the horse used to do deliveries. For many years Richie Corcoran was the delivery man.
A drum of kerosene was out back, as well. We still bought kerosene after the arrival of electricity.
Molasses came in a big drum kept at the back end of the store. A metal measure was placed under the spout and the tap opened to let the molasses run out. In the winter when the store was much cooler, it took a long time to ‘run’ out – as slow as molasses in January.
In the summer, when bananas were available, there would be a big stalk of them hung from a hook in the ceiling. At first the stalk would be green, but as the days went by as they ripened and took on a golden hue. Mr. Marchand would break off a bunch depending on how many you wanted.
They sold for 25 cents a dozen and a great Sunday treat for us.
Twenty ounce cans of peas and corn sported the Red Rose symbol on their labels. Or we could choose the Lynn Valley brand of peas, wax beans, peaches, and pears.
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Shredded Wheat with its picture of Niagara Falls on the box, Muffetts, like little round bales of hay, puffed Rice, Puffed Wheat, Rolled Oats by Quakers, and Cream of Wheat were the main cereals to choose from.
There was no wrapped bread in my early days. A sheet of newspaper served to carry it home. Bread, baked in double loaves, was usually split into single loaves for sale.
There was a choice of water bread or milk bread. You could buy a single loaf of water bread for five cents. It was a very light bread with a crispy crust. We bought the milk bread which was seven cents.
Purchases were carried home in brown paper bags, even eggs!
Shelves around the walls were lined with cleaning products as well as food. If the sewing machine needed oiling we bought a small tin of 3-in-1 with its little spout that let oil out in drops. Hawes Lemon Oil for furniture was a familiar smell in many homes.
There was a variety soaps for washing. Bars of Fels Naptha, Comfort and Barrileau were stocked for general washing. Lux for woollens and other ‘delicates’ was also available as well as the rival Ivory Snow Flakes, 99.9% pure!
For our “beauty’ soap we could choose from white bars of Lux Toilet Soap or Ivory Soap, or the ever familar green Palmolive.
Bars of soap for washing dirty hands included red bars of Lifeboy Soap with its pungent odour of carbolic. To get the grease and grime off really dirty hands tins of Snap could be purchased. This soft but gritty soap either made ground in dirt disappear or wore the skin off in its effort.
In the spring, when it was marble time, we bought our supply at Marchand’s. The clay marbles were cheapest, five for ten cents.
Alleys or Bull’s Eyes came in different sizes and colours and were priced accordingly.
Fountain pens replaced straight nibs as we progressed in school and Marchand’s offered a new type of pen. It had no tube to siphon up the ink. You just dipped the pen in the ink pot and it could write several words before running dry. It did not make as many blots on the paper nor did it leak but it did not have a cover to protect the nib.
My first such such pen was dark red. The part where my handheld the pen was red with fancy gold markings on it. The rest of the long handle which tapered to the end, was plain dark red. The overall length was about eight inches. Because there was no cap to protect the nib, several falls to the floor finally ruined it. I chose a green one to replace it. The new pen cost 15 cents, my whole weekly allowance at the time.