Old-time neighborhood grocery stores


South Porcupine, like many northern communities, lost its only grocery store two years ago.

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South Porcupine, like many northern communities, lost its only grocery store two years ago.


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Giant Tiger, McDonald’s Variety and Urban Farms quickly moved to fill the void and we are very grateful to them.

However, limited space made it difficult to buy bulk quantities or fresh cut meats.

After two long years, there is news that a new supermarket will be opening soon. Other communities have not been so lucky.

Our dependence on a department store made me reflect and think about the many neighborhood stores that have thrived in our communities in the past.

Growing up in South Porcupine, I remember the last names of some grocery store owners – Ursulak, Clement, Ierullo, Decario, Anderson (later Wood), Zupan, Sgro, Tadej, Slotnick (later Cronmiller and St. Amour) ), Vukovich, Purdon Laflamme, Pellizzari, Roderick, Stoynoff – names as diverse as the countries of origin of some store owners.

We had the workers ‘cooperative and the consumers’ cooperative – both of Finnish origin, as well as a small Dominion store.

There was the James Market in Porcupine and a store at the Dome mine.

On First Avenue in Schumacher there was Sebalj Groceries & Meats, Frank Zanchin’s Market (who made the best stuffed pork chops I’ve ever eaten!), Joe Schwab’s Grocery and Nick & Bill Blahey (who had their main store in Timmins).

The Northern Provision Store and McLelland’s Groceries & Meats were on Pine Street in Schumacher.

At the end of the 1950s, Mike Ayoub had 2 stores in Timmins: Mike’s Supermarket on Mountjoy South and Superette on Third.

The Mike’s chain of grocery stores with the “Smiling M” logo continued to include four stores in Timmins and additional stores in South Porcupine, New Liskeard and Kirkland Lake.


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It was once the largest independent food chain in northern Ontario.

Also on Third Avenue was the C&C store, Blahey’s main store, and Shankman’s Grocery (the origin of the name, “Shankman’s Hill” at the foot of Third Avenue between Elm Street and Mountjoy Street).

At the south end of Timmins were Bradette’s Store and Charette’s Cash & Carry on Commercial Avenue, Zudel’s Red & White Store on Tisdale Street, Windsor Handy Store, Urquhart’s and Ralph’s on Maple Street South, Piche’s on Middleton Avenue, Mountjoy Provisions, Lalonde’s on Wende Avenue, Leo’s on Crescent Avenue and Dubien’s on Montgomery Avenue.

In what was once known as the Moneta section of Timmins, the Italian community had the choice of shopping at Ziliotto, Mazzuca, Angelo, or Scullino on Pine Street South.

Also on Pine Street South was a store owned by Pat and René Poupart.

Consumer’s Co-op had stores in South Porcupine and Schumacher, but their flagship store was at the corner of Algonquin Boulevard and Birch Street.

Worker’s Co-operative of New Ontario had many stores in the North.

At one time, they also had their own dairy, bakery and coal yards.

At the edge of Hollinger Town, on Waterloo Road, was the Hollinger Store, owned and operated by the Hollinger Mine for its employees.

It was later known as Roy’s Townsite store.

There weren’t as many grocery stores north of Old Town Timmins, but there was Kremer’s Store and Keyes’ Red & White on Pine Street North.


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There was Neighborhood Market, Starr’s Grocery, and WJRoss & Son on Toke Street.

There was a residential grocery store and a Tamarack grocery store, both on Tamarack Street.

The 1957 telephone listings for Sixth Avenue had a Mary Mate store at # 276 and a D. Krakana store at # 83.

Foodlands has been listed at # 154.

Many stores were attached to the family home, and store owners had to extend credit long before the days of Visa and MasterCard.

Customers expected and received, free delivery of their shopping.

The era of the neighborhood grocery store is over.

The buying volume of large chain stores has driven down customer prices.

Our shopping habits have changed with larger fridges and freezers, but when we lost those stores we also lost the personal touch and the exchanges of camaraderie that we once had on a daily basis at the local grocery store.

This is my perspective from Over the Hill.



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