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It might surprise you just how many general stores operated in Combermere over the years. They were one of the mainstay businesses in the village as travel outside Combermere in the mid to late 1800ís was difficult and expensive for the settlers. In addition, traveling salesmen or 'Travelers' as they were called would bring their merchandise and dry goods to Combermere from Ottawa and display them in the OíBrien House or Hudson House for individuals to select and buy. It all started in the 1850ís when the village was first settled.

The first general store in Combermere was established in the 1850ís by Daniel Johnson and that story is described separately. At that time the village was called Dennisonís Bridge. The other stores that came along later are detailed following:

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Jamesí General Store

The James family, a well-known settler name from the Bangor / Centerview area established a general store on the west side of the bridge crossing the Madawaska River in the late 1800ís. It was very popular with the residents and lumberman in the area. Unfortunately the building was destroyed by fire on Saturday afternoon, August 5,1911. A blaze started in the Hudson Hotel which destroyed pretty much all of the business section on the east side of the bridge. The hotel was destroyed as well as Jamesí General Store, the village hall (which was at the time occupied by Henry James), Charles Dennisonís residence, the hotel stables, S. Jamesí tinsmith shop. H. James lost everything. Dennison saved some furniture. S. James lost about $12,000, with insurance of $2,000, Hudson Hotel, no insurance. The fire began in a room that had not been occupied for three months and mice and matches are supposed to have caused the trouble. The Hudson family later rebuilt the hotel. The others were undecided as to their future course.

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Frank Stafford & Sons General Store

After the fire in 1912, Frank Stafford built a new general store on the same location as the Jamesí general store. It was called the F. Stafford & Sons store. Frank also operated a general store in Barryís Bay where the Activities + is currently located.

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Stafford's store in winter, Combermere
1915
East side of bridge, Combermere
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Credits:
Barry's Bay This Week

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W. L. Waddington General Store

In the 1920's Stafford Ďs store was purchased and operated by W. L. Waddington and continued until 1959 when it was demolished to make way for the new curved concrete bridge. It had all kinds of merchandise. They sold various foods, hardware items, clothing, moccasins, garden goods, tourist items, fishing equipment - even a soda and ice cream section with booths for many years and a china shop upstairs. It sold Shell gas and oil products, ice from an ice house and had for a short tine Scrooges, a fast food outlet selling hot dogs, burgers, fries etc, in a separate building to the east of the store. It was a very popular store with many of the newly arrived cottagers and tourists to the area patronizing the store.
The Waddington family lived upstairs for many years. Also, upstairs a credit union had an office (the first one in the area) and at one time the Merchants Bank of Canada (later BMO) had an office.

As the Hudson House was not too busy at that time, W. L. Waddington moved his store across the road to the Hudson House and occupied the two front rooms on the ground floor to display and sell his merchandise.

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Waddington's store, Combermere
Circa 1950's
East side of bridge, Combermere
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Waddington store
Circa 1950's
East side of bridge, Combermere
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Waddingtons store with Scrooges snack shack
1947
East side of bridge, Combermere
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Blais Groceries

In 1944 Alphonse and Claire (Perrier) Blais started and operated a small grocery store in their home, located on Lower Craigmont Road, just past the intersection of Dafoe Rd. There was an Esso gas pump in front of the store that operated from 1942 to 1947 and a separate building that was used as a barbershop a few steps away from the residence/store. Alphonse also went weekly to the Bancroft uranium mines and Foymont Air Force base to cut hair for the employees. He barbered in the 1940ís and 1950ís.

The store provided a variety of items such as food, vegetables, vegetables milk, candy, soft drinks, ice cream, etc. before closing down in the 1975. Pauline Smith, daughter of Alphonse and Claire and her husband George live in the residence to this day.

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Alphonse & Clair Blais
Circa 1950's
Lower Craigmont Road
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Blais Store
Circa 1940's
Lower Craigmont Road
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Blais Store
Circa 2000's
Lower Craigmont Road
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Blais Store Front
Circa 1940's
Lower Craigmont Road
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Combermere General Store

After Bob and Theresa (Lepinskie) Coulas left the Valley Market store in 1959, they built and operated another general store in 1969 about 500 feet away and south of the Valley Market. The Coulas' bought out the W. L. Waddington stock from where they were located in the Hudson House. It was a general store much like the Valley Market store but also carried small hardware items such as paints, electrical, and plumbing supplies. They operated that store for many years and then Bill & Dot Weatherbed took it over in 1973. Later, Wilf Madigan and his wife Dolly purchased and operated the store. After that the business was operated by Helen Parisien but the store was owned by the Madigans. Debbie and Brian Beatty took over the business, renting it from Wilf Madigan, but unfortunately they ran the business into the ground. The store closed and was bought by Gerry Bloom and Ernie Coulas. The new owners occupied the left side of the building under the name MV Satellite and on the right side ReMax Real Estate with Cathy and Terry Pitts occupying that space. After nine years, the Pitts moved out in 2001 to locate their business in their home on Mill Street. S.O.S Transportation Services took over the right hand side in August , 2011. Syd and Elizabeth Orr operate the business.

When the Madigans owned the store, they added a second story to the building, as well as two apartments which are still used as rentals today.