The General Store—Georgeville, Quebec / Three Pines

The dark wooden shelves were neatly stacked with tins. Sacks of dog food and birdseed leaned against the counter. Above the shelves were old boxes with backgammon games. Checkers, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly. Paint by numbers and jigsaw puzzles were stacked in the neat, orderly rows. Dried goods were displayed along one wall, paint, boots, birdfeeders were down another. (The Brutal Telling, Chapter 14)

The General Store, Georgeville QuebecI’m a sucker for General Stores. From the worn hardwood floors to the super stocked shelves of everything you could possibly need; wine, cheese, hats, gloves, pocket knives, maple syrup, and—if you’re lucky—a big old barrel of peanuts that you can shuck and freely discard the shells right there on those well-worn floors.

Whenever I get the chance I spend hours reveling in the history of these iconic establishments which sadly had their heyday in the late 18th century. That said, if you look hard enough and take the roads less traveled, you can still find them out there well beyond the neon signs of the big box stores.

Some of my personal favorites:

Kelloggs & Lawrence (established in 1887) in Katonah, NY. Rife with tools, camping gear, and folksy children’s games; K&L has it all including the peanut barrel!

FH Gillingham & Sons (established in 1886) in Woodstock, VT. Just about dead center in the most picturesque village in the Green Mountains, it’s one of the state’s oldest General Stores “where you can buy everything from caviar to cow manureaccompanied by a farmstead cheese and a bottle of Corton Charlemagne!”

Gray’s General Store (established in 1788 and sadly closed in 2012) in Adamsville, RI. It still pains me that that after 225 years the doors of this Ocean State mainstay were shuttered. It actually had a vintage soda fountain and authentic Johnnycakes!

The General Store, Georgeville, Quebec 1910The General Store in Georgeville, Quebec is the model for Three Pines’ General Store. While I’ve found a photo of the store dating back to 1910, historical information beyond that is scant and, as of this writing, inquires to the general store have gone unanswered although, from what I gather, they’re only open from May to November, so more to come! I have learned they do sell local products like honey and not so local products like fireworks! Looks like I’ll have to take a trip up there soon to see for myself.

Special thanks to Bob Heath (see comments) for filling in some of the General Store’s background!

Anyone here ever been to the General Store in Georgeville?

Tell us all about your favorite General Store!

Discussion on “The General Store—Georgeville, Quebec / Three Pines

  1. Bob Heath says:

    I and my wife visited Woodstock, VT. in 2014 and visited the FH Gillingham & Sons store several times, even bought a souvenir, a set of tuned wind chimes that at this very moment are chiming in the strong wind we are experiencing as I sit and type, and several other supplies that we needed. Yes, it has almost everything. A shame to visit Woodstock and not visit FH Gillingham & Sons. In fact it would be a shame to be near Woodstock, VT and not visit. So much to do and see in this lovely, stately town.

    The Georgeville General Store.
    Myself and friends sat many hours on Coca Cola wire frame chairs on the front porch of the Georgeville General Store depicted in the picture. I think a bottle of pop, like Pepsi, Coca Cola, Orange Crush, etc. was 5 cents when I started ‘drinking’. Along with a drink, it was usual to have a bag of potato chips, the size being between that skimpy size now on store shelves and the big bag now on store shelves, probably for 5 cents or so, or a choclate bar like Crispy Crunch for maybe 3 to 5 cents. Of course 5 cents was real money to a kid, probably more like $1.50 Cad. now, 2015. The store sold penny candy and gum too. I talk of the mid to late 1940s.
    The store owner then was Alton Keet and family. Sons Bobby and Stephen Keet were part of the little gang that hung out, grew up together, played together in the 40s and 50s.
    To the right of the interior store portion of the building, that is the portion behind the front plate glass windows seen in the photo, was the downstairs of the Keet family home that had the kitchen and living room, and the complete upstairs had the bedrooms and a huge ‘family room’ where we played games and in particular played ping pong on the very cold winter evenings when it was too cold to be out sliding on any one of the three hills the Village is nestled in, or too stormy to be swimming down at the lake, or bicycling, or whatever kids did then.
    Talking about sliding on the hills, when we got cold we could go in the store and stand at the big wood stove in the store and get warmed up and dry our woolen mittens. Also a good place to warm up after spending some time tobogganing on the open field hills.
    The store offered groceries, freshly butchered meats by Mr. Keet, general hardware for the home, fresh vegetables that Mr. Keet has grown just outside the Village center, and for a time fresh bread that Villager George Buzzel had baked at home on Sat. mornings during the summer vacation period. That bread was snapped up immediately upon delivery to the store.
    I remember one Hallowe’en, teenager we were, we had found out that if you threaded a large needle with a very, very long heavy thread and forced it into the sash, against the glass, and strung the thread to a hiding place then stroked the tightened thread with a piece of rosen, the glass would vibrate like a yowling cat in the last hroes of its life. The big plate glass window was a stupendous sounding board. We had no idea that the store was going to empty of owner and customers that only had one thing in mind, find the dumb kids that were causing such bedlam. Man! did we take off for the far reaches of the Village. Nevertheless we eventually had to get home and we met our just desserts.
    This store has been refurbished at great expense by the present owner. It has a copper ceiling and interior arrangment which it never had when I and friends spent time at the store. Probably a recreation of the store modelled on a much earlier time. In its present format it is bright and clean, a pleasure to visit and observe.

    • Bob Heath says:

      I erred. The photo posted shows a pair of framed windows each side of the store entrance. While living in the Village the store had a big plate glass window on either side of the store entrance.
      In discussion with my wife, she mentioned shopping at the La Rumeur Affamée some years ago and how delicious all the goodies were. She mentioned the creaking hardwood floors and that in turn reminded me to the creeking hardwood floors in the General Store in Georgeville. A common trait of stores, community halls, schools, and churches of the time.

      I would also like to comment on how amazing it is that Ms. Penny can study these existing buildings, the surrounding countryside setting, city scapes of the present, the persons ( both rural and city) – and weave such attention grabbing fictional stories from them. Thank you Louise Penny.

      • I could not agree with you more, Bob Heath. Your last paragraph sums it up so well. Louise Penny has incredible perception of people and places. And she uses it to give us such pleasure!

    • Just curious if this Bob Heath has wife Araina and from Huntington? If yes, I spotted this posting today 3-20-16 while doing my grandfather’s genealogy research.
      I’ve never been to Georgeville.
      Let me know where you and Araina are these days? If you aren’t a match please let me know, too, okay? Cyberspace has provided many more leads to genealogy than the old microfiche/microfilm readers! UGH!

  2. Kathryn Hornby says:

    The two pictures of the General Store in Georgevile are not the same building. The first picture is of the General Store that you see when you come down the hill into the village. The older picture is a different building nearer the lake. At the time my parents owned this other building, it was called “The Village Store” and housed one of the oldest Post Offices in Quebec. It was owned by a Mr. Granger prior to us.

  3. Paul Hochman says:

    That’s on me. I pulled the wrong picture in my research.

    • Kathryn Hornby says:

      If any further information on the history of the stores or the village is required, there is a very strong historical society that I am sure would be happy to help.

  4. Pol Dudley says:

    We had a general store/post office 1/2 mile from our house in Bard, CA. It had a little bit of everything. As kids we enjoyed riding our bikes down there and getting a Coke for 7 cents (12 cents if you took it home to drink). The place blew down during a fierce windstorm a few years back.

  5. Julie says:

    Thank you, Bob Heath – for such a lovely description. It brought up my childhood memories of smaller stores – we called them “Mom and Pop” stores – they didn’t have the size, and therefore, not the inventory of this kind of larger General Store, but I remember having 3 cents to spend and resting my nose on the glass of the candy case while I decided if I needed 9 licorice, or 3 licorice and some jaw-breakers… if I had a dime (almost of unheard of) I could have a candy necklace and a package of candy cigarettes. The Licorice Pipes of Louise’s stories are well-remembered with fondness. These stores were small and dark, and members of our community. On Halloween, the store would give out a full candy bar, or pack of sunflower seeds, and we had one that had a cotton candy machine and would give that out for Halloween. Lovely memories…

  6. Years ago I wrote a feature article about general stores in the Missouri Ozarks. Don’t know if it’s still true, but at that time one of the stores regularly had customers who rode in on their mules once a month or so to pick up mail and get supplies.

  7. Darryl (Doc) Watson says:

    The description of this store is pretty much a carbon copy of the one I grew up hanging out around and my mom clerked at. Walter Harrimans in North Fryeburg Maine, cirica 1940s and 50s. don.t know when it was established but it was therefore the depression, mom and dad paid of some folks accounts there because old Walter wouldn’t remind neighbors of their debit, but mom did the books during those years into the sixties and knew the business was in danger of collapse. She and dad had little in those years as dad had worked a whole year of the depression and not gotten paid by a low life who’s garage he kept in business on the promise that when things got better he’d be paid.

  8. Paul Hochman says:

    Thanks for sharing, Doc. Sounds like an interesting place. My memories of Fryeburg are of the fair. Great event!

  9. Barb Haberman says:

    As a child I often lived with my Aunt Jess in the tiny town of Dwight, ND. The population was 101. It had a station house where the Dinky went through, two farm elevators, a honey house, two room schoolhouse, Lutheran church, general store and post office/barbershop. Absolutely loved the place. It also had a nice creek that went around the town on two sides in a lovely curve. Great skating in the winter, not deep enough for swimming.

  10. Keith Denman says:

    There is an equally wonderful store across the lake at Vale Perkins. The old wooden fridges are still there and the place still has the old feel.

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