Does anyone remember McCoy’s Grocery in Madoc?


Once upon a time, it was very common for small businesses to have calendars printed up to give to their customers. The calendars would feature in a prominent way the business’s name, address and phone number, so they were good cheap publicity when the customers hung them in their homes for all to see.

(The calendars also featured generic photos of farm scenes, pastoral views, kids and horses – or, sometimes, pretty women in swimsuits. And sometimes – particularly in the case of calendars from garages, as I recall, garages of course being male territory in those days – the swimsuits could be a little on the scanty side.)

Anyway, this one from McCoy’s Grocery in Madoc, Ont., is a good example of the (non-swimsuit) genre, and I was happy to find it for sale at a booth featuring some vintage items at the Madoc Fair last weekend. What attracted me to it particularly was that it was for 1964, which was the year that my family – my dad, the young newly ordained United Church of Canada minister, my mum, and their kids (my two younger siblings and me; my brother Ken came along later) moved into the United Church manse in Queensborough, just a few miles northeast of Madoc.

Here is my question for those of you familiar with Madoc past and present: where was McCoy’s Grocery? While obviously (given the calendar) it must have been extant in 1964, I have no recollection of it at all from my childhood. Given that I was only four years old in 1964, perhaps that’s not surprising; but as I think this blog attests, I do remember a lot from our Queensborough years (1964 to 1975), and McCoy’s Grocery is not among those memories. Perhaps it didn’t last much longer than 1964? Perhaps it was the victim of competition from the modern-style grocery-store juggernaut that was Kincaid Bros. IGA? (That’s a bit of an in-joke for the old-time Madoc crowd, like me. Kincaid’s too is, sadly, long since gone, and the brothers’ store is now the site of the wonderful Hidden Goldmine bakery.)

All right, back to the question: where was McCoy’s Grocery? Who were the proprietors, and what was it like? I know someone out there knows…

21 thoughts on “Does anyone remember McCoy’s Grocery in Madoc?

  1. McCoy’s Grocery was located just south of the Dough Box bakery in a building that burned. It was operated by Bob and Prudence McCoy who lived on Seymour St (west of the skatepark). It was one of four grocery stores in Madoc in that era. Margaret Wagner, their daughter was a teacher in Madoc and still lives there. Her late husband John ran the store for a time. Marg still lives in Madoc and I’ll bet could give you some wonderful bits of history about that stoe. Her daughter, Wendy Sniderhan, is the receptionist at the medical centre.

    • I knew you folks would know! It’s kind of hard to imagine four grocery stores in Madoc – but then again, tiny Queensborough had two grocery/general stores in those days. I will try to look Mrs. Wagner up and do some good old-fashioned reporting on what it was like to be in the grocery business back in those simpler times. Thank you!

    • Was that the store with the old wood floor that was worn down to a little hollow in front of the counter? I think I remember my Grandma, Kathaleen Tobin, taking me there as a child….. I might be confusing it with Rupert’s Drugstore, though.

      • Hi Karen! People with better (and perhaps longer) knowledge of Madoc than mine would have to answer that one. I do, however, have a very dim memory of the worn wooden floor in what I think was Rupert’s Drugstore…

      • Okay, I just got more info about McCoy’s from my mother. My other grandmother, Susie Gordon used to work there until it closed and then she went to work at Kinkaid’s. Now, I do remember going to McCoy’s with my father to see Grandma Sue. He bought me a doll that was wearing a Brownie uniform. I had actually wanted the big red fire engine pedal car that was sitting on a high shelf behind the cash, but got the doll instead. I always hated that doll….lol!

      • Oh, Karen, you do remind me (and readers, I’m sure) of the time when special toys and treats were few and far between! Not like now, when you can walk into Toys R Us and there are a thousand of everything in the store. I bet once that fire-engine pedal car was gone (not, sadly, to you), it was truly gone, and there was no replacement on the shelf for others to buy. And, looking on the bright side, you probably got the one and only Brownie doll!

      • Your posts are bringing back fond memories of days gone by and family members who have passed on. Thanks for it all.

      • Karen, it has been one of the greatest joys of my life (so far!) to share with the world all the wonderful things there are about our little neck of the woods, and to encourage others to share their own memories of it. Thanks for your kind words. And now: Do you remember the Beamish store? There’s got to be a post in that!

  2. Wendy Wagner Sniderhan here – with my Mom – Marg McCoy Wagner sitting beside me. The Ketchesons mentioned that I should draw this to my Mom’s attention! I have vague memories of the store as it burned down while I was still quite young. It was transformed into a pool hall later in the 60’s, but Grandpa was still around there a great deal of the time.
    I remember Susie Gordon and we all have fond memories of all the wonderful people who owned stores downtown! Mom would love to share more if you would like to get in touch with her – if you email me I will give you her phone #
    I remember Beamish as my 1.00 allowance would buy me a china horse figurine. Devolins grocery had a cheese round in the back, ORiordon’s was around on St Lawrence E, Stickwoods had Menswear and Fabrics, Ross’s had ladies wear. Wilson’s had a great toy section at the back … there are so many memories!
    Karen – mom is trying to figure out who you are as your are grand daughter to Susie Gordon. Mom keeps in touch with Vera Price at least once a year.
    I am sure Mom would love to add to this blog – so I will sit with her some evening and write more!
    Awesome find on the Calendar! I spend my entire weekend at the fair – but never am looking through the treasures!

    • Wonderful to hear from you, Wendy and Marg – and thanks for all the new information on Madoc’s stores back in our younger days! Wendy, I will indeed email you and get your mum’s number, and give her a call sometime soon when I’m in the area. You brought back some good memories, and some that I can only call half-memories. I’m sure I must as a small child have been in Devolin’s and O’Riordan’s groceries – those names both sound so familiar – but for the life of me I can’t picture them, interior or exterior. I certainly remember Stickwood’s and Ross’s (and now that you mention them, perhaps they will be the subject of this evening’s post), and of course the Beamish, with all its treats: toys and candy and stuff for older kids like makeup and whatnot – ah, those were the days! I know there’s lots about the businesses of Madoc in the late Reta Pitts’s memoir Roses in December, but I think my copy is inconveniently located a four-and-a-half-hour drive from my current whereabouts.

      As for your whereabouts on the weekend of the Madoc Fair, Wendy, I’m not surprised you didn’t have time to do much poking through exhibitors’ booths – aren’t you in the white booth atop the hill, overseeing and running the whole show? And doing a splendid job, too!

    • Wendy, I am Bill Gordon’s daughter. My mom, Marg, would love to contact Vera Price. She asked me recently if there was any way to find Vera. I would love to be able to pass on her address to my mom.

      • Although I don’t remember Aunt Vera and Uncle Joe, they were actually my God-parents. This is so amazing to have the chance to reunite with family. All because of Katherine and her Manse! Thank-you, Katherine!

      • Karen, thank you! It’s people who read and comment and share their memories and opinions who make what I write a lot more interesting. I’m tickled to death that in an indirect and inadvertent way I was able to help make some old family connections. Cheers!

      • Karen (and Wendy), with mention of Vera Price (whom I don’t know, though of course Price is another good and well-known central Hastings County name) you have now lost me, though in a very fun way. I am going to email you both back-channel so you’ll have each other’s addresses, though I would love it if you would continue to share your Madoc retail (and family) memories here!

  3. Yes, I remember McCoy’s. They were just north of Wilson’s. BTW, do you remember Burris’ store at the corner (beside where the Dough Box is)? And, the Dough Box used to be a jewellery store. If I crank my mind long enough, I might remember the name. I recall that Fran Naylor worked there. Back to McCoy’s … it was across the road from Devolin’s (which was just between Stickwood’s and Johnson’s, and then there was O’Riordan’s grocery, across from the current Medical building. I don’t recall the calendar from McCoy’s, though, so this is a nice reminder. Was Marg Wagner the girls’ Phys.Ed. teacher at CHSS? I remember a Mrs. Wagner teaching that there, but I’m not 100% certain if her first name is Margaret, although it does ring a bell. Speaking of teachers, and O’Riordan’s, do people remember Jean O’Riordan, the head of the Business & Commerce Dept. at CHSS? One of the yearbooks (1970, I believe) was dedicated to her.

    • Well, I have the answers to a couple of your questions at least, Sash. I certainly do remember Jean O’Riordan of the CHSS business department – I never had her as a teacher, but she always struck me as the most capable of people. And the jewelry (and china) store that was where the Dough Box is now was Nickle’s. (I was always terrified when I was in there that I’d knock something over and break it. It was the first store where I ever saw one of those signs saying “Lovely to look at/Nice to hold/But if you break it/Consider it sold.” Terrifying!) I rather thought that Burris’s store was on the corner further south, opposite Kincaid’s. Wasn’t that the place that sold hunting supplies and whatnot?

      • Yes, Nickle’s! I remembered after I had finished the posting. They used to be up the street, same side, but just before you got to Kincaid’s, then they moved to the four corners. Ray Burris had his tackle & game shop at the corner. He had an entrance on both streets. Later, he had an antiques shop/flea market in Tweed. I don’t remember him being near Kincaid’s, but it’s possible that he moved after we moved. Nickles’ had nice objects, and so did Johnson’s drug store at one time. Nice to see Wilson’s is still going strong. Mrs. O’Riordan was a very good teacher, a tad strict. In that day and age, most teachers were not touching their students but I remember one day, she slapped someone’s face! And the student did NOT give a smart-assed answer. He answered with a factual statement, but she misunderstood, and she walked over and slapped him.

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