Valley history through plastic bags

by Neil Carleton

When I was growing up, our family’s groceries came home in big, sturdy paper bags.  At the hardware store, strong paper bags of various sizes were available near the wooden bins for nails, or bolts with accompanying nuts and washers.  After a visit to the neighbourhood candy store, my penny treats were carried up the street in a little paper bag.

The arrival of plastic bags in later years caught my attention.  They were brightly coloured, soft to the touch, and could be scrunched up or folded flat in the bag drawers of the nation.  In no time at all they were a normal part of household life.

More than a few were put aside for my modest collection as the art and science of graphic imaging developed.  Others were added in a time capsule sense as a testament to our ever changing landscape of retail stores.

Selected here are some examples of plastic bags from stores in Almonte and Carleton Place over the years.  With Ottawa so close, bags came home too from the national capital region.

Shopping in Almonte

The IGA store in Almonte was downtown at 14 Mill Street, where the Heritage Court building is now.  This address has been the site of more than half a dozen stores over the years.
The IGA store in Almonte was downtown at 14 Mill Street, where the Heritage Court building is now.  This address has been the site of more than half a dozen stores over the years.

Murray Guthrie`s recollections of the stores that once operated at 14 Mill Street are recorded with the heading “In The Beginning” at the website of the Mill Street Crepe Company.  You should take a minute and read it at http://millstreetcrepecompany.com/.

When John Erskine (1897-1992) was interviewed for the Almonte Gazette in February 1987, just a few days shy of his 90th birthday, he was IGA’s oldest employee in Canada.

The newspaper article is available at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onlanark/scrapbook/J_Erskine.htm.

The Pro Hardware store, owned and operated by Stewart Lee, was on the west side of Mill Street in the building where Foodies is located now.
The Pro Hardware store, owned and operated by Stewart Lee, was on the west side of Mill Street in the building where Foodies is located now.

Stewart Lee’s hardware store occupied two floors.  Toys and bicycles, our children recall, were up on the top floor.  The business moved to a new building at the east end of town past the Royal Bank and Independent Grocer mall.  This is the building currently occupied by Equator and Almonte Printing.  The store didn’t survive long at that location.

The creation of a mall at the east end of Almonte, where Gord Pike operated his grocery store, was a major development in Almonte.  A significant portion of the community`s commercial focus moved out of the downtown area.
The creation of a mall at the east end of Almonte, where Gord Pike operated his grocery store, was a major development in Almonte.  A significant portion of the community`s commercial focus moved out of the downtown area.
At one time there was a separate bag for the express checkout.
At one time there was a separate bag for the express checkout.
Some years ago a colorful birds-eye poster map was created of the downtown business district in Almonte.  Radio Shack, located up the street a ways from the Pro Hardware store, was one of the stores on Mill Street.
Some years ago a colorful birds-eye poster map was created of the downtown business district in Almonte.  Radio Shack, located up the street a ways from the Pro Hardware store, was one of the stores on Mill Street.

Almonte had a traditional farmers market in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  It was located downtown, off Brea Street.  The current Almonte Farmers Market is a popular Saturday morning destination at the parking lot in front of the Almonte branch of the Mississippi Mills Library.  It resulted from a kitchen gathering in the fall of 1989 at Helen Halpenny’s house.  
Almonte had a traditional farmers market in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  It was located downtown, off Brea Street.  The current Almonte Farmers Market is a popular Saturday morning destination at the parking lot in front of the Almonte branch of the Mississippi Mills Library.  It resulted from a kitchen gathering in the fall of 1989 at Helen Halpenny’s house.

Carleton Place Stores

Cook’s was a two story store located at 141 Bridge Street in Carleton Place, where The Dress Shop is now.  It was operated by Mary and Wally Cook from 1958 to 1995 as a junior department store.  On the second floor were carpets, drapes and blinds.  Children’s wear, lady’s clothing and lingerie, along with linen and jewellery, were on the ground floor.
Cook’s was a two story store located at 141 Bridge Street in Carleton Place, where The Dress Shop is now.  It was operated by Mary and Wally Cook from 1958 to 1995 as a junior department store.  On the second floor were carpets, drapes and blinds.  Children’s wear, lady’s clothing and lingerie, along with linen and jewellery, were on the ground floor.
During the 1980s, under the art listings of the Ottawa Citizen, the Caral Orr Shoppe in Carleton Place advertised antique and contemporary art by European and Canadian artists.  It was open daily 10-5, Friday to 9 p.m.  
During the 1980s, under the art listings of the Ottawa Citizen, the Caral Orr Shoppe in Carleton Place advertised antique and contemporary art by European and Canadian artists.  It was open daily 10-5, Friday to 9 p.m.
 Buck or Two was a more recent Carleton Place store.  The local number is no longer in service, and the memory file with its location is currently not accessible.
Buck or Two was a more recent Carleton Place store.  The local number is no longer in service, and the memory file with its location is currently not accessible.

Paul Nelson Photography on Bridge Street used to be the home base for Nate’s Delicatessen.  After his parents retired, Paul took over the location and turned it into his photo store.  The business moved in August 2010 to the Service Ontario centre at the old train station on Coleman Street.  Paul Nelson passed away in February 2011.
Paul Nelson Photography on Bridge Street used to be the home base for Nate’s Delicatessen.  After his parents retired, Paul took over the location and turned it into his photo store.  The business moved in August 2010 to the Service Ontario centre at the old train station on Coleman Street.  Paul Nelson passed away in February 2011.

Bringing Home Bags from Ottawa Area Stores

When I was working downtown in Ottawa, it was convenient at times to bring along my shopping list after a quick sandwich during lunch hour.  After work, on the way home, errands could also be completed.  Sometimes on a weekend, a family trip to the city was planned.  Here’s a sampling of plastic bags that came home during those years.  Most of those stores are no longer in operation.

Founded in 1962, Woolco was an American-based discount retail chain.  Although the U.S. stores closed in 1982, the Canadian operation continued until it was sold in 1994 to rival Walmart Canada.
Founded in 1962, Woolco was an American-based discount retail chain.  Although the U.S. stores closed in 1982, the Canadian operation continued until it was sold in 1994 to rival Walmart Canada. 
Shop-Rite was a chain of catalogue stores in Ontario operated from the 1970s to 1982. Customers would browse the catalogue in the store, select their merchandise, and approach a store clerk for the item.  The chain was acquired by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1972, but closed at the end of January 1982.  Ottawa had 5 stores.  
Shop-Rite was a chain of catalogue stores in Ontario operated from the 1970s to 1982. Customers would browse the catalogue in the store, select their merchandise, and approach a store clerk for the item.  The chain was acquired by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1972, but closed at the end of January 1982.  Ottawa had 5 stores.
The 7 Ottawa area stores of Willson Stationers were put up for sale in the summer of 1983 when the decision was made to close all 63 outlets across the country.
The 7 Ottawa area stores of Willson Stationers were put up for sale in the summer of 1983 when the decision was made to close all 63 outlets across the country.
The Hudson’s Bay Company once operated 14 Zellers stores in eastern Ontario and western Quebec before U.S. retailer Target took over most Zellers leases in Canada in 2011.  
The Hudson’s Bay Company once operated 14 Zellers stores in eastern Ontario and western Quebec before U.S. retailer Target took over most Zellers leases in Canada in 2011.
 Since 1945, Kiddytown has been an Ottawa area retail outlet for children’s clothing and accessories.  It was one of the original tenants when the Westgate Shopping Mall opened in 1955.  At one time shoppers could visit 5 stores in Ottawa.
Since 1945, Kiddytown has been an Ottawa area retail outlet for children’s clothing and accessories.  It was one of the original tenants when the Westgate Shopping Mall opened in 1955.  At one time shoppers could visit 5 stores in Ottawa. 
If I ever bought any lottery tickets, it’s not likely that I would have carried them home in this large bag.
If I ever bought any lottery tickets, it’s not likely that I would have carried them home in this large bag.

Wintario was the first lottery game of the Ontario Lottery Corporation, introduced in 1975.  Over its lifespan, the lottery was held across the province in community centers, high schools, theatres, and other locations as very popular televised events.  Wintario draws launched plowing matches, fiddle competitions, and bi-centennial celebrations too.  Although discontinued in 1996, it was brought back in 2010 as a scratch game for only 3 months.

 

Founded in 1973, the Quickie Convenience chain now has 49 stores in eastern Ontario and western Quebec.  These retail outlets offer banking services, gasoline, postal service, first-run videos, and franchised food products.
Founded in 1973, the Quickie Convenience chain now has 49 stores in eastern Ontario and western Quebec.  These retail outlets offer banking services, gasoline, postal service, first-run videos, and franchised food products.

 

This one drew a blank when I tried to open the memory file, even with a few archival ads on-line from the Ottawa Journal in 1979 and 1980.  
This one drew a blank when I tried to open the memory file, even with a few archival ads on-line from the Ottawa Journal in 1979 and 1980.
 Back on July 30, 1981, most of the Direct Film stores were closed across Quebec as more than 600 employees staged a 24 hour walkout.  At issue was the unionization of managers and sales people who worked in stores outside Montreal.  The company’s 107 stores in the Atlantic provinces and Ontario were not involved in the dispute.  With the popularization of digital photography, most film processing outlets didn’t last long.
Back on July 30, 1981, most of the Direct Film stores were closed across Quebec as more than 600 employees staged a 24 hour walkout.  At issue was the unionization of managers and sales people who worked in stores outside Montreal.  The company’s 107 stores in the Atlantic provinces and Ontario were not involved in the dispute.  With the popularization of digital photography, most film processing outlets didn’t last long.
 Hobby House is still on Montreal Road in Ottawa, but no longer operating a retail outlet on O’Connor Street.  
Hobby House is still on Montreal Road in Ottawa, but no longer operating a retail outlet on O’Connor Street.
 Ogilvy's was a department store in Ottawa, founded in 1887.  During much of the 20th century it was considered to be one of the city’s higher-end stores.
Ogilvy’s was a department store in Ottawa, founded in 1887.  During much of the 20th century it was considered to be one of the city’s higher-end stores.

In addition to its famous Rideau Street location, the store operated at 3 suburban malls in Ottawa.  With the expansion of department store chains into Ottawa, and the tough economic climate of the 1980s, Ogilvy’s didn’t survive.

One of the Sam The Record Man stores was located at Bayshore.  The chain, a household name across Canada for more than 50 years, filed for bankruptcy in 2001.  Some independent stores continued to operate.  The last store in the country is located at Belleville where vinyl makes up only 3% of sales.
One of the Sam The Record Man stores was located at Bayshore.  The chain, a household name across Canada for more than 50 years, filed for bankruptcy in 2001.  Some independent stores continued to operate.  The last store in the country is located at Belleville where vinyl makes up only 3% of sales.