Come back to us, Kel Kincaid!

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I’ve made frequent mentions here at Meanwhile, at the Manse of two topics that are kind of related: one, my love for the products of the Hidden Goldmine bakery in Madoc (home of the Cinnamon Sparkle cookie, in my view the best cookie ever); and two, Kincaid Bros. IGA, which in the days of my childhood at the Manse in tiny Queensborough was the supermarket in “town” (Madoc) – and whose premises are now occupied by the Hidden Goldmine bakery/cafe operation.

I love the fact that Hidden Goldmine pays tribute to the much-loved long-ago grocery store run by the Kincaid brothers, with old newspaper clippings about them on the walls and other memorabilia here and there in the shop.

One of the best tributes to the Kincaids’ era, though, is on the exterior of the building, on the brick wall facing Elgin Street. There, above where the sign that must once upon a time have advertised the IGA store, is a big cutout figure of a white-mustached older gentleman hailing passersby. And he can only be Kel Kincaid, one of the brothers who ran the store and the one who seemed to have the most to do with the customers. My memories of Kel are pretty long-ago and dim, but they are of an unfailingly kind and helpful gentleman, a great small-town businessman. And that much-larger-than-life Kel on the side of the Hidden Goldmine building makes me smile nostalgically every time I go by it.

So I was taken aback late this afternoon when, passing through Madoc on my way home to Queensborough from work in Belleville, I saw that the figure of Kel was – missing! Where he should have been on the side of the building there were instead only some bricks in a Kel-shaped pattern (see my photo atop this post) that were darker than the bricks around them, having been protected against the sun and the elements by the Kel figure for so many years.

I think and hope that Kel was only missing because some work is being done on the exterior of the building. Scaffolding on the front, facing Durham Street, has only just come down, and now some other activity seems to be happening on the south side facing Elgin Street. So I fervently trust that Kel will be back when the work is done.

Because for those of us who remember the Kincaids’ IGA, Madoc just wouldn’t be the same without Kel.

15 thoughts on “Come back to us, Kel Kincaid!

  1. I couldn’t remember what wooden Kel looked like, so I went on Google maps street view to see him. Now I remember! Oh, I hope he goes back up there! I also saw that the painted over square up in the corner used to say Home Hardware. Why is that? Was Home Hardware there at one time?

    • I had completely forgotten about that (and I have an excuse; it was after the time that my family lived in the area), but yes, there was a Home Hardware store in the old Kincaid’s IGA, Karen. Back in the days when hardware stores were not nearly as big as they are now. Do you remember the Pro Hardware store on the northwest corner of St. Lawrence and Durham streets (beside the TD bank)? When you look at that building now you wonder how it could have been big enough to be a hardware store. But it was in the days when hardware stores sold screws and nails, and not riding mowers!

      And yes, bring back Kel! Though I am worried; when I drove through Madoc late this afternoon it looked like the construction work on the building was done, and Kel was still missing. Oh dear…

  2. Oh yes, Katherine, I remember the Pro Hardware well!! My mother took me into that store on my 10th birthday and surprised me by buying my very first bike! Oh what a wonderful day that was. I was so excited to get back to the Tobin farm and go bike-riding with my cousin, Eddy. Those were lovely times.

    • Karen, I’m in minimal-internet mode at the Manse tonight (I have GOT to get some real internet going here) so can’t send you the link, but if you type “we six” in the search box at Meanwhile, at the Manse, you’ll find a post featuring a long-ago photo of my family, with that bike in the background. Have a look and see if it’s a match for yours!

      • Oh, my! Yes, that’s my bike!! Isn’t that neat. What a lovely picture of the whole family. And, of course, the bike. Seeing the bike sure brings back memories. Carefree, fun-filled days on the farm…..Thanks for directing me to the photo, Katherine.

  3. Hi Katherine… been a little while. Opera is finished and on to ballet.
    I was talking to Brad and Cheryl at The Hidden Goldmine last week… picking up fudge for the Mercantile… and found out a few things about that sign. Just wondering if you had ever heard the whole story. I’d be happy to pass on the info if you hadn’t already heard it. Meanwhile it’s nice to know that you and Raymond are now Hastings residents!

      • So I asked Cheryl about the sign… this was after I had talked to someone working there on the phone, at which point I was actually told I could pick-up what was left of the sign, which I was going to do to give to you, not that you probably needed such a thing, but I was curious to see it… ANYWAY… Cheryl told me that she talked to the daughter of one of the Kincaid Bros., I believe she said, to gather a bit more history about that sign. Apparently it went up in the 1990s when the new IGA opened down the street, to point the way there. It was a generic person, not actually meant to be a Kincaid. Brad & Cheryl are seeing if it can be restored… it was not in great shape… perhaps in the guise of a miner, as in Hidden Goldmine. So there is all the info I managed to gather for you, and hopefully I got it more or less right. Maybe we will see the return of some figure on the building in the future. Brad said the weather has not cooperated with their exterior refurbishing schedule, so all that may be delayed for some time. Lillian and I are quite fond of such exterior decorating touches, as in our ‘cow moose’ on our antique shed. And now our other two ‘reinmoose’ pulling Santa’s sleigh are back on the porch roof for the season. We’ll keep Santa himself hidden away for a while yet. A bit too early for his appearance!

        Good to hear about the hub and the internet. That is exactly what we rely on, though I don’t think our signal was such a challenge to find.

        And while I’m here, ‘Jolene’ has always been a favourite of mine!

      • Wow, Gary, that is excellent investigative journalism – I may have to invite you to come speak to my students at Loyalist! Thank you so much for inquiring after Kel (or, apparently, not-Kel, though it sure looked like him to me), and how kind of you to think of rescuing him for me! I hope the wonderful folks at Hidden Goldmine Bakery (a place I adore) will find a way to repurpose him. Hard to believe that it is pretty much time for the Christmas-related decor to come out, but it really is, isn’t it? Oh yes, and: glad to hear you too appreciate the heartbreaking brilliance of Dolly Parton’s Jolene!

  4. Yippee! I knew there was a reference to the Hidden Goldmine Bakery somewhere here, and the search function found it for me.

    Below is a link from the Toronto Star, regarding butter tarts (June 26, 2014.) In the comments section that follows the article, someone has given a recommendation for the tarts at Hidden Goldmine. So, they must be pretty wonderful because butter tart enthusiasts can be fussy.

    http://www.thestar.com/life/food_wine/2014/06/26/butter_tarts_inspire_patriotic_devotion_in_canadians.html

    Did I mention how much I love butter tarts?? (Like, who doesn’t?)

      • Wow! Betty’s tarts looks amazing. You know how more often than not, they will bubble over and the filling gets stuck onto the crust? Betty has mastered the secret (whatever it is) and these look like perfect tarts. By the way, my grandmother said that when butter tarts have a runny filling, they were called taffy tarts. I used to urge her to enter her tarts in the fair. In return, she would laugh at me. Doesn’t matter, though — butter tarts at Grandma’s were a great treat. Thanks for suggesting Betty’s. I will be in that area over the summer, so you can bet I’ll search her out. And yes, I must get back to Madoc, too. It’s on my list!

      • You won’t regret your stop at Betty’s! The pies are great too. We always used to joke that they use a secret ingredient: sugar! (And lots of it.)

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