The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 22 no 10, May 2011. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
The general store was the heart and soul of every pioneer community. Cantley's was at the northwest corner of Highway 307 and Mont Cascades Road in Cantley and for generations, going back more than a century, this was the site of a general store. The site is still a corner of storekeeping and service.
Many Cantley old-timers still think of it as McClelland's store, but the south half of lot 9, range 13, was first granted to William Thompson on August 11, 1862. In all likelihood he lived there from much earlier on since there is a William Thompson listed in the 1842 Census. Most of the Cantley pioneers received their Crown Grants in the 1860s, even though the area had been settled in the 1830s and 1840s.
By 1875, another Thompson - Richard Thompson -- appears on the valuation roll. In his "History of the Ottawa Valley", published in 1896, J.L. Gourlay tels us that Mr. Thompson, along with his neighbours, the Gows and the Mulligans, were good farmers.
Some years later, Mark Thompson acquired the property and lived in a house that used to stand behind the store. Mark served as apprentice to a Cantley blacksmith, Mr Brown, before operating his own blacksmith shop and little store for many years. Mark was married to Mildred Lambert. After her mother died, her father, Bill Lambert, came to live in Cantley from the Picanoc. He built a house beside his daughter and her family, and ran a store out of it. Bill married Victoria Thompson of Cantley.
In the late 1930s, while his children were still young, Mark got a job as a salesman for Campbell Motors in Hull and he and his family moved to Hull. Mildred's father, Bill Lambert, stayed on in Cantley and continued to run the store. Upon Bill's death in the early 1940s, his brother, Paddy and his wife, Florence Campbell, from Northfield, took over the store. They were the first to sell ice cream in Cantley and the 5 cent cone was a wonderful treat for the young boys and girls of the day.
In the late 1940s, Orville McClelland purchased the house and store from the Lambert family. He converted the store into a living room and built an addition onto the side of the house for a store.
Orville was the son of Samuel McClelland and Carrie Stevenson. He grew up in Cantley on the farm to the south of St. Andrew's United Church. He moved away from Cantley for a time to work in the Montreal area in the wholesale grocery business. There he met his future wife, Fernande Gilbert. He moved back to Cantley and started his own business.
While his business was getting off the ground, Orville did carpentry work and also drove cream from local farmers to the Ottawa Dairy and the Valley Creamery. He would start out at 5:00 a.m. from Wilson's Corners, travel south along the main road to the Burr Road (now St. Elizabeth's Road). He then wound his way throughout the countryside and eventually came out at Limbour heading to the dairy to arrive by 11:00 a.m. in order for the cream to stay as fresh as possible. Occasionally, an inspector was waiting to check the time of his arrival and the temperature of the cream.
The back of the truck had high racks on it to support the cream cans and a tarp was used, mostly in the summer, to shield the cream from the sun. As there were few, if any cars, Orville often put benches in the back of the truck to take people to different events. Reta (Barton) Milks remembers going to Orange Lodge celebrations in various towns in Ontario in the back of Orville's truck. Sometimes the passengers got rained on, but that just added more to the adventure for a young girl.
Orville sold groceries, hardware and feed. There was just about anything and everything else packed into the little store and basement storeroom. He was a very obliging storekeeper: what he didn't stock, he would make every effort to get. He was also a great supporter of activities in the local community. The ladies who organized the Cantley Picnic meal at St. Elizabeth's parish certainly appreciated his helpfulness and cooperation over the years. Sixty years later, a Cantley widow remembers with fondness and gratitude the support that Orville gave to her and her young children when her husband was killed in an accident.
As his trade grew, so did his store. After his son, Gilbert, joined him in the business, they expanded the store building to its current size.
Forty-five years or so in business produced many changes at the store, not the least of which were two new owners, Diane and Siggy Sattlecker who carried on the fine tradition of service established by their predecessors.
In the last twenty years, the store has changed hands and uses several times. Today, it has become a secondhand store run by the same kind of hard-working suppliers of 'anything and everything' who have made this corner of Cantley a stopping-in spot for generations.
Thanks to Reta Milks and Doug Smith for help with this article.
Mary Holmes is a longtime resident of Cantley and Secretary of the Board of Directors Cantley 1889, a volunteer organization to protect and promote Cantley's heritage.
If you have information on the general store or other local Cantley landmarks please contact Cantley 1889: email@example.com.
Mark your calendars: On June 15,Cantley 1889 plans a guided tour of three of our local cemeteries, with lots of history and anecdotes about our deardeparted forefathers.