A Walk Around Town – Walk I – Shop ‘Til We Drop

Excerpts from “Walk I” in “St. Catharines A-Z” by Junius, originally published in the St. Catharines Journal on July 3rd, 1856.

This week we are going shopping at all of the merchant shops in towns. We will fill our baskets with dry goods from Mr. McSloy, tools and knick knacks from Mr. Benson’s Co.  His store is growing to be one of the largest in the city with all sorts of products.  We’ll also pick up baked goods from William McGiverin or maybe Daniel Haynes! So many wonderful bakers to choose from! We’ll make sure not to forget the groceries. Tea and tobacco are essential as well. Maybe a small bottle of spirit for the weekend.

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Roberston’s Grocery 148 Russell Ave., 1935. Photo Attribution: John Burtniak, StCM, 2006.77.795

 

Once we get the essentials we will move on to the “just for fun” items such as books, jewelry and maybe a new pocket watch from Mr. Parsons, Douglass and Williamson. We can window shop and eye out diamond rings at Mr. Mittleberger’s, because…you never know!  A browse through John Junkin, jun. & Co. to look at the new crockery would be fun.  They import all sorts of ware from different parts of the globe.

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Sherwood Grocery 15-17 James St., 1939. St. Catharines Standard Collection S1939.8.8.10

 

And although we don’t have room in our baskets today, there are so many other possible ways to spend our money! Refrigerators, a cook stove, block-tin ware or even a new shower-bath.

With the plethora of shopping options in St. Catharines, Junius certainly had his opinions on how merchants should stock their shelves and treat their customers: “One thing is certain that too many foreign expensive goods are imported into this country; and that great extravagance and folly, both in dress, houses, style and living are running riot, and mad in many parts of our country at the present day! The merchant lives too fast …Merchants, to succeed now, should be kind, obliging, courteous, civil, and attentive to each, and all of their customers, whether they be high or low, rich or poor, well clad, or illy-garmented, and show no undue partiality!”

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Engraved by C.J. Dyer, Jackson & Gascard, 1876. Photo Attribution: St. Catharines Museum 2487-N

As much as Junius did not wholly believe in importing goods and preferred St. Catharines money to stay in St. Catharines, he also recognized the importance of people working together, relying on their neighbours to provide each other with items we, or they, might otherwise not have: “The wisdom of Diety is wonderfully displayed, in this; causing every many, as well as every nation to feel its dependence on her neighbor, brother, and neighborhood. The tea, coffee and sugar we daily use, is the product of our Chinese and Southern East India neighbors! The cotton, in clothes we wear, are the fruits of Southern Plantations! The silks and satins, that grace, garment and fit our mothers, sisters, wives, lasses and female friends spring from the cocoons and are manufactured in the looms and shops of our Oriental neighbors, English broadcloths and French cassimeres coat and pantaloons nearly all of our cities! The oranges, lemons, figs, pomegranates, pine apples, sweet potatoes, raisins, spices and perfumes, that gratify our sickly appetites, and revive our fainting bodies come from “India’s coral strand and plains!” On the other hand, our products, wheat, flour, pork, beef, lard, fish, &c., feed the, oftentimes hungry and famishing millions, of European, Asiatic, African, East and West Indian Islandic nations…Then, either in merchandize or trade, either in bartering or in selling with one another, or with our neighbor, let each and all, so conduct themselves, that an approving conscience, a grateful recollection of the past, a happy life, a peaceful death, and a blissful immortality may be our portion!”

 

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