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Arts & LifeBygone PlacesHistory

Beaudin Hardware ‘Anything from plywood to a can of beans’

The Gleaner is committed to keeping our readers abreast of current activities, enterprises and opportunities in our Valley, but we thought it might be fun as well to have a series where we can reminisce together about places we treasured that are no longer there. We’re starting with a bygone hardware store that many in the Franklin/St-Antoine area remember with fondness. The Beaudin store was located at the corner of today’s Highways 202 and 201, a place that used to also have a school and a dairy, and was called Maritana.

The store, a fine “false front” building with big windows, opened in 1937, taking the two previous years to build, while the owner, Paul-Emile Beaudin, slept on the new, bare counters and commuted to his job at the already established Lemieux hardware store in St- Antoine. Only months after it opened, in 1938 he married Rita Rémillard. They lived upstairs and raised their two children, whose descendants still live nearby.

 

Photos courtesy of Hélène Beaudin<br >The Beaudin Store in the 1930s

 

It quickly grew into a place where, as Gregg Edwards of Havelock puts it, “you could gas up your car, then buy anything from plywood to a can of beans.” Edwards knew the store well and grew up around Paul-Emile, who was good friends with his father, Charles. The store interior had a wall covered with mounted deer antlers — not of deer Paul-Emile hunted, but of annually shed antlers. He knew where to find them each year at his woodlot on Covey Hill. “He spent every Wednesday afternoon, when the store was closed, up there taking care of the forest — he was a real precursor of sustainable forestry, of appreciation of and respect for the wild landscape,” says Edwards.

Beaudin was a devout Catholic who had an extraordinary ability to carve wood. As a child of 14, he started a creation that would eventually contain over 126,000 lacy wood pieces and stand more than five feet high, a full Calvary, surrounded by baroque elements and surmounted by a cross. It was finally finished when he was an old man. Hélène Beaudin, his daughter-in-law, says, “every house the Calvaire was in burned down, and in the last one it was lost, all except the cross on top,” which she still has. The store closed in 1973, but the building persisted until a fire in 2002.

If readers have similar stories or memories of a restaurant, a business, or even a community activity they want to share, please send it to us and we’ll try to keep this series going. Send ideas, reminiscences and additions to: info@the-gleaner.com, or send a letter to: The Gleaner, P.O. Box 250, Ormstown, QC, J0S 1K0.

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