Published on January 31, 2014
Troy Robertson (left), new owner, serves customer Ab Annand with the help of his new partner Glen Ferguson at the counter of the Frieze and Roy General Store in Maitland.
Susan Sweet photo
Published on January 31, 2014
Freelance writer Philip Moscovitch with Primary to Grade 3 students at the Maitland District Elementary School in January.
Glenda Anthony photo
Maitland & Area Notebook, By Susan Sweet
School kids discover what it’s really like to be a Nova Scotia writer
South Maitland resident Glen Ferguson has been operating his business, Cobequid Flooring, for 28 years and in 2009 he purchased a building right in the village of Maitland and opened a showroom. Directly across Highway 215 is the Frieze and Roy General Store, a store that has the distinction of being Canada’s oldest continuously run general store.
David Frieze originally opened the Frieze and Roy store in 1839. In the 1860s Frieze teamed up with Alexander Roy and they established the firm Frieze and Roy. That store remained in the ownership of the Roy family until this century. The store was sold several years ago and those owners eventually moved away, but continued to keep the store open.
For the past four years Ferguson has watched as the building’s facade became tired and was physically on a downhill slide. He noticed the traffic flow was dwindling and residents weren’t finding what they wanted to purchase at the store. Ferguson pondered the future of this once vibrant centre of the village. He then partnered with Selma resident Troy Robertson, purchased the store and took ownership just before Christmas 2013.
Ferguson and Robertson have wasted no time in jumping right in with interior renovations. They reorganized the store to offer the merchandise on one side (the old side), while they work on the part of the building that was built in the 1960s. Work has included insulation, wall removal and painting. Work on the exterior will commence as spring approaches.
Traffic flow has increased 20 per cent this month as people stop in to buy their goods and watch the progress. Ferguson and Robertson welcome suggestions from residents and customers. They see the store as a vital service to the community and envision a space that’s a hub and a destination for visitors in the warmer months of the year. People are happy to comment and leave suggestions.
One suggestion was the idea to “bring back the rocking chair.” Years ago, there was a rocking chair by the cash register for folks to sit and chat or relax with neighbours before heading back home. It’s a request Ferguson says is easily filled.
Ferguson and Robertson will be adding a small café to the store and will have seasonal picnic tables overlooking the spectacular view of the Cobequid Bay and Shubenacadie River just behind the building.
Ferguson’s spouse, Joanne Solway, is a multimedia visual artist who works in clay, stone, wood and paint, and more recently started producing jewellery. She currently displays her work at the Cobequid Flooring showroom across the road, but plans to bring her art into the general store and expand an art gallery area to include books by local authors as well.
Right next to the Frieze and Roy store, and part of the property, is a building that was opened as a bank in 1873, became a Royal Bank until the 1980s and has seen life as a craft shop and café. The new owners of Frieze and Roy are mulling over what to do with that space.
Frieze and Roy, open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., employs three full-time and three part-time workers besides the owners.
The future has brightened for our community and Canada’s oldest general store.
Maitland District Elementary School enjoyed a recent visit from freelance writer Philip Moscovitch of Halifax. Moscovitch contributes to many publications, including writing the “Daisy Dreamer” comic that has appeared in Chickadee magazine for 10 years. He talked to the children about his career and the process of writing the comic strip and working with an illustrator.
Susan Sweet is a visual artist and small business owner, inspired by the Cobequid Bay and Shubenacadie River and living on the edge of Maitland/Selma. She can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.