I think the photo I have included with this story is awesome.
It was sent to me by Francis Peter Vink and is a picture of Minnie Lamont and her daughter Constance, circa 1922. Constance was born in January 1920 and appears to be about two years old in the photo.
Where was it taken? I will explain what I think is the location at the conclusion of the story.
With input from several persons, I have been able to put together a reasonable biography on Minnie’s life.
Minnie Tipping was born at Blackburn England in 1888 and was living in Toronto by 1913 where she married Aldo Shepard Eldridge.
The marriage, for reasons not known to me, became void and by 1920 she was married to Archibald Lamont in Toronto.
Unfortunately, Mr. Lamont died, leaving Minnie with a small child to raise.
Her plan of action was to move to Chatham where she had family.
Her older sister, Isobella, was married to a man named James H. Walsh who was a clerk with the Wanless Hardware store on King Street. This firm dated from the 1860s and was one of the largest retail and service concerns in the city. The Walsh family lived at 77 Delaware.
Minnie, as well, had a younger sister living in Chatham. Her name was Clara Tipping.
The City Directories do not make mention of Minnie until 1927 but I know that she was operating her own business a few years earlier.
Her tiny store was a versatile enterprise selling ice cream, soda, cigars, newspapers as well as grocery items.
The store, up until 1920, had been a private home which had been converted to retail purposes and operated by a man named T. A. Ellis.
Minnie did not remain in business for a great deal of time and is subsequently listed as an operator, and later as a sales clerk for the Northway Rush Company, which was one of Chatham’s first chain stores.
Northway Rush specialized in yard goods but was then (1920s) making the transition to women’s and children’s ready-to-wear clothing. In later years, the store would be operated by Lou Veal who became one of the most popular merchants in the city.
Minnie lived at several locations during her life.
Her last residence was at 30 Tecumseh Road where she is listed until the mid 1960s.
Minnie died in 1968.
Her sister Clara (1890) also passed in 1968. Older sister Isobella Walsh (1884) died in 1962 and her husband, James Walsh (1886) died in 1960. Each member of the family reposes in Maple Leaf Cemetery.
The location of her store?
I think it still exists and was long ago converted back to a residence.
In checking the City Directories I found a cottage that, as stated above, had been converted to a store circa 1920 and remained in that mode for several decades. It is located at 179 Colborne Street at the southeast junction of Princess Street.
Minnie’s store had a narrow front with a recessed front door as is the case with the existing cottage at this location. The cottage is at the intersection which would have been critical for traffic flow. There was, as well, a bridge crossing McGregor Creek at Princess Street giving Minnie access to customer sources from King Street East.
As you can see at the extreme left of the photo there was a substantial structure to the immediate east of the store which no longer exists but is clearly evident in the 1893 Toronto Lithographic Map.
I can’t be 100 per cent certain but I believe the cottage at 179 Colborne was Minnie’s store.