I put out the call and you answered.
My cousin Terry Hamlett found this photo of the Washburn General Store circa 1952 in her mother’s collection. Terry is the little girl on the left and her sister on the right is Phyllis. As young cousins we spent a lot of time together on Washburn Island. (See legend below to locate store on the island)
The building, located near the boat launch outside Percy Wakeford’s farm gate, played an important role in Washburn Island’s history before the store closed and the building became a cottage. You have to imagine how difficult it was for cottagers to transport groceries from Toronto at a time of poor refrigeration. Often the cottagers lowered foods needing refrigeration on a pulley and bucket system to the bottom of their wells to keep it cool.
The little store was a 10-minute walk along the sandy cottage road and became a reliable source for cottagers to buy milk, bread, cigarettes (see the advertising on the outside of the building), cold pop, and treats like gum, chocolate bars, licorice twirls and jube-jubes. And my favourite – ice cream, stored individually in cardboard canisters that could be peeled back and placed upright in a little cone. You could have any flavour you wanted as long as it was vanilla, chocolate or strawberry.
I’m calling on anyone who recognizes the building, or knows anything about who owned the store, (possibly the Byrds), and their recollections of the store, to email me: email@example.com
When this store closed, another one opened nearby on a smaller scale (possibly the Byrds), then it closed too. The stores struggled before the population explosion on the island in the 1960s. I assume the number of existing cottagers couldn’t buy enough to sustain store owners who hoped for better returns on their time and investment.
The last local store I recall from the 60s was on Starrs Road before you made the left turn to go south to the naarrow Washburn Island causeway. Local farmer, Mr. Starr, sold milk mostly. I don’t remember much else. We’d pull our car up to the shed-like building that was roadside and Mr. Starr or his wife came out of the house to serve us. I think it remained open for a few years, but there was no magic to buying only milk roadside, compared to the fun of walking the cottage road for ice cream at the Washburn General Store.
Readers comments and stories are welcome.
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