Charlie Burk remembered in 1919 Dorset that his father sold many items in the General Store, groceries, drugs and dry goods, too varied to name them all.
The flour and sugar came in 100 pound bags, candy, ice cream and beer. This beer was in quart size bottles that came in wooden cases. The cases were used also to send the empties back to the wholesaler. Charlie remembered wheeling many of these cases up from the main dock after they had been unloaded, and taking the empties back in the wheelbarrow, a necessary vehicle in those days.
Gasoline and kerosene came in steel barrows and were rolled by hand from the dock to the store where they were emptied into tanks.
On one side of the store they had an ice cream parlour, a barber shop, and a poolroom.
The ice cream came in on the boat too, in ten gallon cans set inside a wooden container large enough to pack a considerable amount of ice around it to keep it frozen while shipping from Toronto. It was put into their outside containers and repacked with ice and rock salt as soon as it arrived. This required a large amount of ice to be cut in the winter and stored in their ice house.
IN THE LATE NINETEEN NINETYS THE CLAYTON FAMILY RECEIVED A LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE
‘CLAYTONS OF DORSET’. THE LETTER WAS FROM AN EIGHTY YEAR OLD GENTLEMAN WHO WAS
FROM NEW YORK STATE. THIS MAN HAD ATTENDED CAMP OTTER ON OTTER LAKE NEAR
DORSET IN THE MID NINETEEN THIRTYS. THE LETTER STATED THAT HE HAD STOLEN SOME
CHOCOLATE BARS FROM THE CLAYTON FAMILY GENERAL STORE WHILE HIS TEENAGE FRIENDS
HAD KEPT D.W. CLAYTON BUSY IN THE BACK OF THE STORE. FOR SIXTY OR MORE YEARS HE
HAD FELT BADLY ABOUT THIS. THUS THE LETTER OF APOLOGY AND HE ENCLOSED A CHEQUE
FOR TWENTY DOLLARS TO COVER HIS THEFT. HE WANTED TO FINISH HIS LIFE WITH A CLEAR
YOU CAN STOP IN AT THE DORSET HERITAGE MUSEUM TO VISIT OUR ‘GENERAL STORE’ EXHIBIT
AND VIEW PICTURES AND ARTIFACTS OF CLAYTON’S STORE IN THE EARLY DAYS. THE MUSEUM
ALSO HAS AN EXHIBIT FEATURING AREA CAMPS, ONE OF WHICH IS CAMP OTTER.
Remembered by Lorna Cassie – Bywater
During my childhood around the age of eight, I recall summers spent in Dorset. Our family, the Cassie Family, numbered nice in all. My parents, George and Millie along with seven children ranging in age from three to nine (three girls and four boys) arrived the day after school finished in June and Dorset became our summer home for two glorious months of summer. Summer ended for us on Labour Day Weekend.
Before our own cottage was built on Otter Lake, we rented a small cottage on Lake of Bays from Mrs. McKey. The McKey cottages were next door to Len Barry’s garage and many a penny was spent buying those coveted black licorice from the counter top jar at Len’s garage. We swam, played, had picnics and frolicked away our days while Dad worked at Clayton’s General Store. This was a summer job for Dad and an essential one that put food on the table for his family. During the year, he was school principal in Massey.
It was a regular occurrence for my siblings and me to run down the hill past the little yellow tea room and the Anglican Church to visit Dad at the store. It was really Wes Clayton we hoped to see. Wes doled out candies and ice cream cones unbeknownst to my dad. We picked up our mail from the post office housed in the back corner of Clayton’s store. A most treasured tie was accompanying Dad in the old Clayton truck that delivered groceries to cottagers around the area. On day when it was my turn to ride in the truck, we hit a bump on an old gravel side road causing the door on my side to fly open. Dad’s quick arm grabbed hold of me, saving me from certain road rash that day. We loved watching cars gas up from the old tanks that stood for years in front of Clayton’s store.
In my mind today, I still hear the creak of those old wood floor boards; I smell the chocolate from the ice cram counter and I hear Wes saying, ‘”Hi there, look how you’ve grown!” Clayton’s General Store is part of my lazy days of summer in the early 1950’s in the hamlet of Dorset.
Wednesday evenings during July and August in the 1950’s were looked forward to with great anticipation by the kids in my family. Our parents piled us all into their old station wagon for the drive to the Frost Centre. A room was set up with folding chairs facing a large movie screen. Each child tried to get a seat closest to the front row where we thought we’d have the best view. Films for the family entertainment were projected onto the screen the moment the lights went out. We sat entranced for an hour and a half watching cartoons, Lassie, Roy Rogers and even some educational National Film Board presentations on Lakes and Forest Life. Whatever was shown we loved and never complained.