A small-town main street, then and now


“Durham Street, Madoc, circa 1960” reads the caption below this photograph. What a lovely, nostalgic image of a bustling small town at the peak of mid-20th-century prosperity!

I’ve written many times before (like here and here, among lots of other posts) about how many books Raymond and I seem to have acquired over the years. So given that, you won’t be surprised to know that one of our favourite shops in Madocwhich is “town” for most of us in Queensborough, although sometimes Tweed is “town” too – is a bookshop. It’s a used-book shop, actually, and it’s a there for a good cause; all money raised from sales of the books goes to support the (excellent) Madoc Public Library. The store is called The Bookworm, and it’s operated by the Friends of the Madoc Library.

Both Raymond and I have found some really interesting books at the Bookworm over the course of many visits there. One thing I particularly like about it is that it has a fairly big section of classic hardcover and softcover books. (In other words, it’s not all about Danielle Steele paperbacks, though if you like those, there are lots of them too.) I’ve come across some pretty unusual and cool books in that section, and let me tell you, the prices are unbeatable. For those who might like to stop in: it’s at 80 Durham St., kitty-corner from the wonderful Hidden Goldmine Bakery.

Anyway, while I’m happy to pass on a tip on a great source of secondhand books, the real point of this post is something else. I wanted to share with you a photo that hangs on the wall at the front of the Bookworm: my photo of that photo is what’s at the top of this post. It’s a shot of Durham Street, which is more or less the main street of Madoc, taken “circa 1960,” as the caption at the bottom of the photo says:

Durham Street citation

When I spotted this photo during my most recent visit to the Bookworm, I was captivated by it, and by the feeling of nostalgia that washed over me.

Now, my time in the Madoc area didn’t begin until a few years after 1960; it was 1964, to be exact, which is when my family moved to the Manse in Queensborough. But certainly in the years we lived in the area, Madoc looked far more like that image from 1960 than it does now. Gracious – all those businesses that are no longer with us, more’s the pity. (Like Stickwood’s Dry Goods, and Ross’s Ladies’ Wear, just to name a couple.) And what’s even more a pity is the great buildings that are no longer with us, notably the one on the left housing the Café (what was that café?), with the amazing curve at the top of its facade. Sadly, there have been a number of fires on the main street of Madoc resulting in the loss of some beautiful and important old buildings – presumably including that one.

Now, don’t get me wrong: the downtown area of Madoc still has lots of well-kept historic buildings. And it’s still a bustling little place. But like so many small towns, it’s not quite as bustling as the scene you see in the photo. Here’s a (much less good) photo I took this past month of the same scene:

Durham Street, Madoc, 2014

More or less the same view of Durham Street, but 54 years later: my photo taken in December 2014. It should be noted that this was an early-morning photo, before the retail business of the day had really got started – hence the scarcity of people in the picture.

Anyway, I think it’s delightful that such a memento of the old days is on display at the Bookworm. And I also think it’s delightful that the Bookworm is part of the main street. It is one of the businesses that helps keep Madoc a lively and interesting place, all these years later.

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