McDougall & Brandon

In August of 1879 John Brandon “purchased the grocery and provision business of Kerr & McDougall and removed to the McArthur Block” [CP 22 Aug 1879; 3]. We can only speculate that John Brandon quickly formed a partnership with Findlay McDougall to operate the store, for their business was soon afterwards known as McDougall and Brandon. Fire destroyed their store house on Francis Street West in May 1880 [CP 14 May 1880; 2], but by September they were “building a grain storehouse at the rear of their premises on Colborne Street.”

The Gazette was a source of constant comment on their commercial activities and innovations. “[McDougall & Brandon] have also put down iron gratings in front of their shop windows for the better lighting and ventilation of their cellar, which they hope to have fully stocked with such articles of farm produce as require to be kept out of the reach of frost” [FFG 25 Sept 1880; 2]. The firm hired “pedlars” to sell goods outside the village, and also operated a grocery delivery sleigh and wagon. The “handsome blinds” they installed in August 1881 “inscribed in mammoth letters the names of various leading articles to be found within” were seen by Hand as an “indication of prosperity and taste” [FFG 20 Aug 1881; 2]. In 1882 a 30 foot addition was built onto the back of the McArthur block, and the partition dividing the two parts of the store was removed allowing the counters and shelving to be expanded the entire length of the shop [FFG 16 Sept 1882; 2, 11 Nov 1882; 2]. The improvements, according to Hand, were “far ahead of what anyone would have expected, a few days ago, to see in Fenelon Falls before 1900.” [FFG 25 Nov 1882; 2]. Their store was one of the first to introduce a “Withrow & Hillock’s patent arctic refrigerator” [FFG 21 July 1883; 2] allowing them to sell fresh white fish and salmon.

At some point, probably January 1883, Johnston J. Brandon was brought in as a partner. The firm was afterwards known as McDougall & Brandon Bros. That partnership was dissolved on March 3rd 1884 [FFG 22 March 1884; 2] and the business continued by the original owners. By April, however, the “widely known grocers and provision dealers” had sold their store to R. [Richard] M. Butler [FFG 12 April 1884; 2] of Barrie. The partners temporarily abandoned retail for agricultural speculations.

McDougall & Brandon had been speculating in the grain market since the beginning of their partnership, and were listed as grain merchants throughout the 1880s and ’90s. For example, at the bottom of their ad dated 28 Nov 1883 [in very small print] they notified customers that “All kinds of grain bought at highest market prices” [FFG 19 Jan 1884; 3]. In 1884, after selling their store, they built a steam grist mill at the SW corner of Bond and Colborne Streets that became known as the North Star Roller Mill. The mill was built after the collapse of the old Wallis stone grist mill in 1883 and the failure of the R.C. Smith Company to get their new stone mill ready to open.

Other partners were also being added to the firm. When the North Star Roller Mill was built it was under the superintendence of Mr. Robert Allan [sic] … a practical miller and machinist [FFG 16 Aug 1884; 2]. Allen was apparently a partner by the end of the year (McDougall, Brandon & Allen) [FFG 6 Dec 1884; 2], but he sold his share to John A. Ellis in March 1886 [CP 2 April 1886; 6] thereby changing the name of the firm to McDougall, Brandon & Ellis. Little is known of this partnership except that it appears to have been dissolved by 1889 or 1890.

1890 also marked their return to retail; McDougall & Brandon opened a general store on the main street and James Jackson was hired as head clerk2 [FFG 26 Sept 1890; 4]. By 1890 [Henry3] Austin was also associated with the firm4. McDougall & Brandon joined with Austin to form a syndicate to buy potatoes “buy[ing] all the tubers they [could] get hold of…” [FFG 23 Jan 1891; 4 : FFG 20 March 1891; 4.] This partnership became known as “The Syndicate” and their general store became known as the “The Syndicate Store.” Henry Austin and J.H. Brandon were off to Montreal selling railway cars full of pork, potatoes, peas, beans, apples, and butter in February 1893 [FFG 17 Feb 1893; 6], and there are other references to such shipments [FFG 24 Sept 1897; 7]. The firm continued to deal with a variety of agricultural products throughout the decade. During the winter of 1890 they were very active in the ice business6, and in July [1891] they were speculating in hay.

Around 1894 James L. Arnold entered into a partnership with Findlay McDougall and John H. Brandon to operate their general store thereby trading under the name McDougall, Brandon and Co. That partnership was dissolved in October 1895. Soon afterwards the Syndicate store was sold to W. Davey of Bobcaygeon, as it was the “intention of the Syndicate to devote their entire attention to milling and farming [FFG 31 Jan 1896; 5]. Later that year Henry Austin became an official partner and the new firm of McDougall, Brandon & Austin, mill owners and cattle buyers was formed [FFG 6 Nov 1896; 4], even though Hand had been referring to the company by this name for years.

The business continued until 1905, when the Fenelon Falls Star announced a “DISSOLUTION SALE”. The firm of McDougall Brandon & Austin will hold an immense sale of Real Estate, Shorthorn cattle, Implements, etc., on Wednesday Sept 20th. The sale is held for the purpose of facilitating the matter of the dissolution of the firm. Fuller particulars at a latter date. [FFS (5:47) 17 Aug 1905;1]

“The corporation of Fenelon Falls is now owner of a water power, a roller flour mill and electric light plant, the citizens on Monday night last having carried a by-law to raise $75,000 for the purchase of Brandon & McDougall’s interests in the mill, the mill [sic] and power. The firm controlled 500 h.p. and will receive $35,000 for their possessions. Under the agreement they will pay the village $1200 per annum rent for the flour mill while they occupy it, the Council being at liberty to secure a better paying tenant if possible. It is proposed to erect a power station at an estimated cost of $25,000 and offer electrical energy at a cheap rare in order to induce [mid?]-sized industries to locate there. The vote shows that the citizens were eager supporters of the ambitious proposition, the tally being 121 yeas to 30 nays. [WP 1 May 1903; 8]. Findlay McDougall apparently left the village in 19091. Henry Austin died on April 12th, 1908 at the age of 55 and was buried in the Fenelon Falls Cemetery. John H. Brandon died on December 11th, 1924 and was also buried in the village Cemetery.

504 Also known as McDougall, Brandon, & Allen; McDougall, Brandon, & Austin; McDougall, Brandon, & Co.; McDougall, Brandon, & Ellis; McDougall, F. (Findlay); and the North Star Roller Mill.

505 “McDougall & Brandon” is listed in the January 1880 edition of D&B (an 1879 edition has not been located). The same name is used in the Canada Post and in the Gazette. Upon the sale of their business in April 1884, McDougall and Brandon note in a “Card of Thanks” that they had been in business “during the past five years”… (i.e. 1879). [FFG 2 May 1884; 2].

506 One such peddler was William Ellis of Fenelon [township] who “died very suddenly… early Tuesday morning last” (1 June 1880) [CP 4 June 1880; 3]. William Robson was also hired in November 1882 to work in the business [FFG 11 Nov 1882; 2].

507 A Notice to Creditors appeared in January 1883 stating that McDougall and Brandon would call the attention of those who have not settled their accounts to the fact that … “they intend making a change in their business”, and ask that bills be paid by February 1st. The ad is dated 19 January 1883. [FFG 20 Jan 1883; 2].

508 For a history of this mill, see under North Star Roller Mill.

509 Again, see under Ice Industry; Ellis is apparently not part of the partnership (i.e. March 1890).

510 This store should not be confused with Jarvis & McDougall’s Dry Goods Store in the McArthur Block owned by John E. Jarvis and Hugh N. McDougall from 1880 to 1885. Hugh McDougall continued to operate a business from 1885 to around 1891. See under each entry.

511 Lew Wakely worked in the tailoring department (FFG 16 Nov 1894; 4), as did J.J. Townley (FFG 22 Feb 1895; 1]

512 The 1904 Souvenir of Fenelon Falls states that it was “Thos Austin” who “has successfully managed the butcher business of McDougall, Brandon & Austin.” I have found no other evidence for this claim.

513 Austin did not become a partner until 1896 (see below).

514 It was certainly called The Syndicate Store by February 1894 [see FFG 23 Feb 1894; 1]. Variant name: The Village Syndicate.

515 See under Ice Industry.

516 The ad is dated 19 October 1895, but was first seen in the surviving Gazettes on 3 January 1896; 5.

517 The 1910 Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory lists an “F. McDougall” operating a butcher store.

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