A brief glimpse of a sign from times past

Pigden Motor Sales sign at Bush Furniture

What a thrill it was to see the old Pigden Motor Sales sign revealed once again, thanks to renovations of the exterior of the Bush Furniture store in Madoc!

I shouldn’t wait too much longer to file a report on something interesting and cool that happened in the nearby village of Madoc (which is “town” for us Queensborough people, at least on the days when Tweed doesn’t fit that bill) not very long ago. File this one under “fun blasts from Madoc’s commercial past.”

Northstar fridge red

The retro-style red fridge that I will buy from Bush Furniture one of these days. (Photo from Elmira Stove Works)

Here’s the story: There is an excellent local furniture and appliance store called Bush Furniture, with outlets in both Madoc and Tweed. At the Tweed store I found the refrigerator of my dreams, the retro-style red one that I will have someday, and you can read about that here; meanwhile, Raymond and I have purchased both a more mundane white fridge and a much-needed chest freezer from Bush’s in Madoc, and in both cases we have been thoroughly pleased with the quality of the merchandise, the friendly service, and the efficient delivery of the product. For all those of you in central Hastings County thinking of buying furniture and appliances from the big-box stores in some regional city: I heartily suggest you think again, and go local with the Bush folks. You won’t regret it.)

But anyway. Both Bush Furniture outlets have undergone renovations recently, and the work on the exterior of the Madoc store uncovered a real treasure – if only briefly.

You see, Bush’s in Madoc is located in the building that once housed Pigden Motors, a Dodge/Chrysler dealership back when I was kid growing up here in the Manse in Queensborough. Its location on Russell Street (or is that Russel Street?) was the car-dealership strip in those days; Derry’s Garage, Madoc’s Pontiac-Buick-Chev-GMC dealer, was right across the street. I’m sure there are many stories of the two businesses’ friendly rivalry.

(Meanwhile, I expect there was also a Ford dealership in town back then. Was it Armstrong’s Garage on St. Lawrence Street East? Or Brett’s Garage on Durham Street South? I am hoping a reader can enlighten me. And also, I should send out a shoutout to Madoc’s current car dealership, the bustling operation that is Doug Hunter Ford, carrying on the tradition out there on car-dealership row on Russell Street just south of Highway 7.)

Oh – have I digressed again? Oops. Well, this blog is nothing if not full of digressions.

What I want to say is that the renovations to the exterior of Bush Furniture – still a work in progress as of this date, I believe, which is why I’m not including an “after” photo – briefly revealed the old sign for Pigden Motor Sales. My eyes practically popped out of my head when I saw it, and of course I had to bring my car to a screeching stop and get some photos.

For one thing, I am a sucker for all old painted commercial signs. They are so beautiful, especially when faded and reminding us of businesses that once were so proud to proclaim their existence. But mainly, I was delighted to see that visual reminder of a prosperous and well-respected Madoc business from back in the days when all of us were so much younger.

The painted Pigden Motor Sales signs is covered up again now, and the front of Bush Furniture looks very nice as the renovations continue. But I’m glad to know that the old sign is still under there. And even gladder that I got a chance, even if a very brief one, to see it once again, and to share it with all of you.

14 thoughts on “A brief glimpse of a sign from times past

  1. Hi Katherine: Brett’s Garage on Durham Street was in business for over 50 years and sold both Ford automobiles and tractors. Interestingly the Pigden Motors family were our neighbours on Davidson Street for many years and Doug and my Dad (Harold Brett) were good friends. Thanks for inspiring some great memories!

    • Carol, I confess I was hoping to hear from you when I threw out that question about the Ford dealership in Madoc – because I knew you’d be the best person to answer it, thanks to your dad being Harold Brett. So thank you! That’s cool about you folks being neighbours with the Pigdens. Friendly competition is a very good thing, especially in a small town!

  2. Hi Katherine,

    I have a postcard of Madoc from about 1958 or 1959 which is a photo of Highway 62 in the center of town, facing north. Directly opposite Kincaid Brothers’ Red & White Super Market and immediately south of the Madoc 5c & 10c store, beside the Cafe Moira, is a large sign over the western sidewalk that reads “Ford, Monarch, Falcon”. I imagine it identified only the office for the dealership. I can’t imagine there was any kind of showroom in that small storefront for any vehicles sporting those three venerable badges. I wish I could give further clarification, but I was a very young kid at the time, and my family of cottagers were just beginning our long relationship with Madoc’s main street. I’d love to send you a copy of the postcard if you’d be interested. Thanks for your great efforts in providing such happy memories. More power to you.

    • Hello, that is very interesting about the Cafe Moira. I’m afraid I don’t remember it. I remember the restaurant that was beside Kincaid’s Red & White store (the one that pre-Mary Jane’s), but as for another cafe close to Brett’s, I don’t recall. But thank you for the information; it’s all very interesting.

      • Sash, I’m hoping that when Russell sends me an image of that postcard (which I promise to share!) it will help jog some memories about the Café Moira. It would have been a bit before my childhood here, and probably yours too, but I’m sure there are other readers who remember! (I love this stuff – can you tell?)

    • Russell, thank you so much for your kind words and your splendid offer of a vintage photo of Madoc’s main street! I will send you an email backchannel so you can send the postcard digitally, if that works. (If not, a loan via snail mail would be great, and I would return it to you safe and sound.) Interesting that you mention the small space that may have been the dealership’s offices: when I look at the buildings and lots that once housed Derry’s and Pigden’s, I am amazed to think they were once considered big car dealerships. They are so small by modern dealer standards! Oh for the days when we didn’t need gigantic everything…

  3. Hi Katherine: This is very interesting, thank you. I remember Pigden’s very well, and also Derry’s garage/car dealership which was across the street. And speaking of that immediate area, do you remember the cabins that used to be across from Pigden’s (beside Barton’s motel), on the east side of Russell Street? I remember the cars in the display windows at Pigden’s and it was always interesting when the new models had been received, to see what new designs had been used.

    • Hi Sash! I am trying and failing to picture the cabins you mention. Were they motel cabins? Where oh where is the digital archives we so need of all these Madoc memories? Mind you, Brock Kerby is doing a fantastic job of collecting old photos at his Madoc and Area Local History Facebook page. But I get so annoyed when my brain can’t conjure up images of specific aspects that readers like you mention of the Madoc of my childhood, and it would be so lovely to have an online archives to search for them…

      • Hi, Katherine. Yes, they were small cabins that were part of the motel property (Barton’s), on the southeast corner of Russell & Prince Albert Streets. I forget how many cabins were there, maybe five? It was a cute little setting, with the cabins here and there.

        You mentioned Armstrong’s on Lawrence East, and for a moment there, I was having a bit of a lapse in memory, but now I recall. It was just around where the new drug store is, just across from Trinity United Church.

        That would be great about the photo of the Cafe Moira. What a busy main street Madoc had (for a village of that size), what with the cafe, two restaurants, three grocery stores, two pharmacies, the “five to a dollar” store, Pidgen’s Radio & TV, and so many others.

        It’s too bad we didn’t have today’s cameras/iPhones back in 1960. Imagine the photos that we would have now!

  4. Armstrong’s Garage was on Lawrence East where the new Drug store. I believe Tom Deline bought from Armstrong’s in late 70’s. Then Canadian Tire ran there service center there till it was torn down to build the building that is there now. I do remember being in Bretts when I was a kid.

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