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Welcome to the Belfountain General Store’s little home on the web. Of course, constructing this site was way cheaper and quicker than putting the building back together – but all the effort was worth it. The Store Blog chronicled the journey of the last few months, so enjoy reading about all the sweat, dollars and cussing that made the project work.
First, some context. The BGS is an iconic pile of bricks erected in 1888 on the site of a bawdy tavern which burned down, probably because everyone got boozed up and started throwing lanterns at each other. So for more than a century and a quarter people have stopped at the corner of Old Main Street and Forks of the Credit Road to buy stuff, gossip, hang out or show off whatever they’re driving or riding.
This is in Caledon, of course, the horsey, rural and gorgeous lid that sits atop the urban sprawlness of the ever-expanding GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Local politicians, activists, citizens and conservationists have wisely prevented Caledon from turning into another Mississauga or Brampton, where suburbs have devoured what once were fields, crops and cows. There’s even some history left here. And that’s what Belfountain, and its iconic general store, are all about.
You can read all about it in the ‘Journey since 1888’ part of this site. There are also some cool pictures from a time when people didn’t know how to text, but still led fulfilling lives (as hard as that is to imagine).
I bought this store in 2002 from a great lady who then worked with me as a business partner. We did a lot of renos, had a ball, and tried to corral all the bikers, minivans and tourists who flocked in. Of all the things done in my life, this stuck with me as the most satisfying – working with people who were having a great time because they stumbled upon a unique, beautiful and alluring place.
Then I lost my mind and went back into politics, being elected to the House of Commons again. Some people never learn. Besides, it didn’t go well. Google something like ‘Garth Turner vs Stephen Harper’ and you’ll see what I mean. Ouch. Well, we’re both retired from public life now, and I have moved on to make the most of my days, including being a financial guy. One big event in early 2016 was purchasing my beloved Belfountain General Store again.
Sadly, it needed help. You can see from the picture above that the past eight years were not been kind to the structure. Serious moisture damage occurred, fissures opened in two walls, the roof was shot, the back foundation sagged a little, some of the decorative bricks popped out and many others were munched by the road salt.
So the first order of business was remediation. That’s finishing now, and we’ve documenting the process here. The goal was to restore, repair and revitalize – not to change, alter or in any way diminish what is an architectural and historical gem. In fact in 2015 the Belfountain General Store was designated a heritage structure.
So we’re swinging that wooden front door open again. A bakery, ice cream parlour, specialty store and a place to appreciate the beauty and peace that is Belfountain, Caledon and Canada – that was always our goal. We’ll now there. Come and see what an obsession actually looks like.
Open in the summer 10 am to 8 pm, seven days a week. Bring attitude.
By the way, the Belfountain General Store is part of an incredible weave of Ontario history, from drunken tavern patrons, to a Toronto rubber-stamp baron who thought he could tame nature to the truly electrifying story of a genius inventor, to the guys who dug up the rocks the Premier now calls home. For details of it all, click here.