William Burgoyne [ 1843 - 1927 ]

“A superintendent of the Napanee Paper Co. Pulp Mill the late Mr. William Burgoyne came to Fenelon Falls in 1883.” After approximately three years with that firm, Burgoyne appears to have entered into a partnership with John R. Scott and opened a general store that became known as Burgoyne and Company. A 1928 newspaper article suggests that Burgoyne started by buying the Butler Bros’s grocery, book and shoe store and running this in connection with [or perhaps they mean in conjunction with] the pulp mill.3 This may be correct as R.M. Butler did leave by 1886. The new shop was known as “The Red Store” and became one of the more successful businesses of the 1890s. The Gazette referred to Burgoyne as “the leading retail man” [FFG 26 Feb 1892; 5].

By 1891, located in the McArthur Block, Burgoyne rented Hugh McDougall’s shop to the north and cut an opening through the wall [FFG 17 April 1891; 4]. The new store was to house dry goods and clothing, while “The Red Store” “will henceforth contain nothing but groceries and boots and shoes [FFG 1 May 1891; 4]. In February 1892 a notice appeared that “Burgoyne & Co.” were “retiring from business” [FFG 26 Feb 1892; 5]2. John R. Scott, “the sleeping partner in the firm” also “sold out his interest in the business” to “Mr. Matthew Ryan, and the firm is now Burgoyne and Ryan” [FFG 9 Sept 1892; 5]. Obviously the original partners had gone their separate ways. Scott was operating his own general store by January 1895.

Burgoyne continued to be listed as the Superintendent of the Napanee Pulp and Paper mills well into the mid1890s. The 1891 Census lists him as a pulp mill manager, but also notes that his 19 year-old son Charles W. Burgoyne, was the “dry goods book keeper”. Charles was no doubt representing his father’s interests in the firm. Electric lights were installed in the store in July 1894, replacing the coal oil lamps [FFG 27 July 1894; 5]. The Gazette reported on turkeys shipped to Montreal, on assistants working in the shop, and a stone thrown through the front window, all the while calling it Burgoyne & Co. An agreement must have been reached by the end of 1895 as “Scott, Burgoyne & Co.” reappeared in the directories; Matthew Ryan must have left at this point. Nonetheless the partnership was formally dissolved “by mutual consent” on November 1st, 1897 [FFG 5 November 1897; 5]. William Burgoyne was now operating the store on his own.

By November 1897, Burgoyne was in the process of installing a “cash railway” in both his stores thus centralizing and controlling cash flow [FFG 5 Nov 1897; 4]. Burgoyne continued to prosper. As one of the most obviously successful merchants in the village, everyone knew about his activities, so very little was reported in the local press. His advertisements regularly appeared in the papers and his name in the directories, year after year.

The 1904 Souvenir of Fenelon Falls [28?] notes his achievements. “Wm. Burgoyne came to Fenelon Falls from Napanee 21 years ago to take charge of the pulp mill and went into business three years later. During these years he has built two handsome residences. He is a man of very retiring disposition never having sought or desired public office. Along with his son, Mr. C.W. Burgoyne, he conducts the largest business of general description in Fenelon Falls, and the stock which consists of general groceries in every possible line, crockery, boots and shoes, and a complete stock of staple and fancy dry goods, is shown to advantage in three large stores. The store farthest north is devoted to groceries, the middle store to dry goods, and one at the south to carpets, curtains and house furnishings. Mr. Burgoyne employs six assistants and does a large business, both in town and throughout this and the surrounding counties. He makes a specialty of catering to the tourist trade.”

Around 1902 C.W. Burgoyne officially joined his father in the firm, and by 1906 it became known as W. Burgoyne & Son. “Following Mr. Wm. Burgoyne’s death in May 19271, Mr. C.W. Burgoyne, who had been in partnership with his father for twenty-five years, took charge. In January of the present Year [1928] the grocery department was disposed of to Mr. R.N. Mitchell, who had been about twenty years with the firm as clerk. Miss. M. Littleton has been with the firm, in the dry-goods department, about twenty-two years.” “Frequent sales kept the stock up-to-date and during the years that the business has been in operation stocks of some 22 or 23 firms, which were located in the town, have been taken over.” The business lasted well into the 1960s under the same name.

58 The business was also called William Burgoyne & Son. William began in business as Burgoyne & Company, but later traded under the name of William Burgoyne.

59 Variant entry: Scott, Burgoyne & Co. (1895)

60 Variant spelling: W.S. Scott

61 There was not a shop called Butler Brothers. Butlers’ was owned by Richard M. Butler (see Butler, R.M. below).

62 Obituary records from the Fenelon Falls Gazette in the Fenelon Falls Public Library (28.20A). The article states that Burgoyne bought out Butler in 1884, but if he did, then the date listed in the directories (1887) would be correct.

63 “Also called “The Big Store” in a 1903 ad [FF Star 2 April 1903]

64 The ad (dated 22 Feb 1892) states: “We have decided to wind up our large retail business in this place, and as a first move we here give notice that on an after March 1st we propose reducing our credit business. Having placed our orders for a large and very choice selection in all the various lines of SPRING & SUMMER GOODS before the firm thought of retiring, we will continue business until our lease expires…”

65 Some of the “lads” and clerks working in the store were R. McKenzie (1892), W.W. Jermyn (1892), Arthur Maclennan (1894), Miss McMillan (1898), and Miss Woods (1898).

66 Burgoyne is buried in the Fenelon Falls Cemetery.

67 Obituary records from the Fenelon Falls Gazette in the Fenelon Falls Public Library (28.20A).

68 The store was located where Watson’s (Sears’s outlet) is today, and appears today very much as it did then. Helen Speller (nee Stewart) worked during Christmas there in the 1930’s and the cash counter was in the centre of the store. Burgoyne also issued tokens as cash.

See Also

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