Stewart’s grocery store operated for over a century. Colin Stewart opened the original shop around 1905 in a canvas tent with his wife, Bertha, serving workers constructing the paper mill as well as railway passengers and staff. Colin worked at his general store business until his death in 1948, after which his son George took over.
Audio clip with transcript: Corey Sharpe discusses the start of Stewart’s.
George Stewart, born in 1913, grew up in the family business and Windsor. He was well-known for his standard uniform of brown pants and shirts, combined with a hat that he seemed to wear year-round. Yvonne Courtney remembers:
“George Stewart always had this terrific brown hat. I remember seeing him at the store and he always seemed to wear a white apron. Sometimes he would just have the [brown] pants and the shirt. He was a tall slim man and distinguished looking, but this hat, this brown hat, it seemed like it went with him forever.”
The store was likely the first grocery store in what is now Grand Falls-Windsor and maintained a classic feel with wooden barrels, paper bags, and a wood stove. Roy Oldford recalls the store’s payment process:
“Everything was done by hand. Everything was written down and when you paid for it they had a system, whereby you put the bill and the money in a little container and that – whoosh – was whisked along on an overhead line up to the office. The change was made up in the office and then – whoosh – down it came over the line again to the clerk at the counter and she passed you out your change and your receipt.”
(This ‘whooshing’ was likely achieved with a system of pneumatic tubes which could move money and notes between floors or offices.)
While George Stewart was considered a shrewd businessman who bought in bulk to keep the prices in his store competitive, he was also known to be extremely generous. George helped several other local businesses establish shops on Main Street. He had a long career, running Stewart’s until his death in 2008 at the age of 94.