The Old General Store

Time passes differently with a puzzle piece in your hand.

It’s true. I lose total track of time while puzzling. That’s what I call it when I work on a puzzle. Every Christmas I receive a puzzle as a present. I must’ve have been a very good person last year because Santa gifted me with two puzzles and I received another from my oldest daughter.

I chose to work on my daughter’s 1000-piece puzzle first. It took two days to complete. Which is quite amazing when you consider an unfinished puzzle sat untouched in the living room for months.

Inside the puzzle box was a note stating the artist, Geninne Zlatkis, became interested in birds at the age of two. Apparently, Geninne’s mother would place the family canary in its cage, on the table to entertain her as she was being fed.

I love birds as well. There are three budgies in our home and my daughter has a cockatiel and two budgies. She chose a perfect puzzle to interest me!


The puzzle I did next was one Santa didn’t realize he had put in his Amazon cart. He had meant to order a different one. Blame it on the elves, haha!

Anyways, this puzzle reminded of Pinery Provincial Park where I’ve camped many summers. On the drive there along Highway 79, the bluffs of the Pinery appear as you near Highway 21. Excitement would set in for all of us in the car knowing we were almost there!

The last puzzle—the general store—reminded me of a scene imprinted in my mind that I haven’t thought of for years.

When I moved to Windsor as a teenager, our family always took the shortcut back to our hometown of Wallaceburg. The long way entailed driving to Chatham and taking Highway 40 to Wallaceburg. The shortcut saved maybe fifteen minutes but it was much more scenic with corn fields and tiny villages dotted along the journey. This puzzle scene reminded me of a general store in Prairie Siding close to Jeanette’s Creek.

Now that I had the picture in my head, I just had to find a photo of the store. Using Google Maps, I saw that the building was no longer a store. It was fixed up nice, though. But it wasn’t the store I envisioned.

I searched with Google but had no luck. I scoured The Windsor Star database. Still no luck. I combed through The Chatham Daily News database. No photos but I learned that ice floes in Prairie Siding were broken up in a novel way…by the use of dynamite!

I asked a friend who often photographs rural areas if he had taken any photographs there. No luck but he would ask his cousins who lived in Jeanette’s Creek if they had a photo of the store. Nope.

I looked at countless photos on Flickr without any success. Then, it happened. I saw a photo from Prairie Siding. Not of the store but of a train. I knew the railroad tracks were nearby the store. I contacted the photographer who is a train enthusiast. He said that he did have a photo of the store but it wasn’t the main focus of the photo. I was happy!

Here’s the powerful pic! You can see the store with the grain silos behind it.

It was taken by Earl Minnis who waited in the cold to capture the photo as the train was running a half hour late. Earl had waited patiently “trackside with a brisk North wind which left him chilled and hungry.” I’d say it was worth it to see the train blast through the snowdrifts! Earl said he headed over to Émile’s General Store for a warm bowl of soup and a sandwich afterwards.

As for me, my memory was of driving Gramma back home to Wallaceburg after a visit to Windsor. We stopped in at Émile’s General Store for either something to drink or an ice cream sandwich. Maybe both!

My memory can’t recollect all the details but I fondly remember this: In an idyllic setting of farmer’s fields, we crossed the railroad tracks and stepped into the old-fashioned general store, far removed from the shopping malls of my new city of Windsor. And for a brief moment in time, we stepped into an era from long ago.

5 thoughts on “The Old General Store

  1. Hi Rita! Thanks a lot for choosing to follow my blog. I’m so grateful for your support. I can’t wait to read more great posts from you. Please let me know if you’re on Twitter or Instagram so I can extend my support there too.

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