Address: 6607 Fourth Line [Main Street]
Location: Lot 46, Plan 628 [also Lot 9, Plan 91]
Date and Fabric: c. 1885, two storey brick store/residence
|John Wright||[lot only] - 1881||Alonson Barrows||lot only 1881 - 1881|
|William Bruce||1881 1907||William M. Bleakley||1907 1 912|
|Alex Russell Sr.||191 2 1920||Thomas Craig||1920 1947|
|Harold M. Craig||1947 1966||Geraldine Stratton||1966 1975|
|Ada Pyke||1975 1978||Annie Brown||1978 1984|
|Christopher Hopkins||1984 1986||Michael Maguire||1986 - ?|
Other photos on file from 1990, 1986, 1980, oversize 1979, and undated; also undated pre-1926 [since street not paved] showing streetscape
See also Presence of the Past, November, 1986.
This prominent red brick building with its buff brick trim has been at the centre of village life for many years. Belden's 1879 map shows that in that year the quarter-acre parcel of land the building stands on was owned by John Wright. In February, 1881, Alonson Barrows bought one eighth of an acre [the northern half of Wright's quarter acre] and in April of that year sold the land to William Bruce for $150. It is suspected that shortly thereafter Bruce constructed this building as a general store. The building was definitely in place by 1900 because Mrs. Beulah Craig remembered seeing three men leave for the Boer War [1899 - 1902] on the steps of what was then the William Bruce store. 50 Mr. Bruce [1853 - 1907] also built 2376 Church Street, q.v., and possibly other buildings in North Gower.
Mr. Bruce apparently ran the store until his death in 1907. His estate then sold the property to William M. Bleakley in 1908 for $2,500. In 1912 the property passed to Alex Russell Sr., and stayed in his name until his 1920 death. It is not known what the building was used for in those years.
Most older village residents associate the building with its next owner, Thomas Craig. Tommy Craig bought the property from Russell's estate in 1920 and for the next 25 years operated a men's clothing and tailoring store. He was assisted by John Cryderman until the latter's death in 1927. During the early 1920's, a dentist by the name of Dr. Kemp had an office and a waiting room upstairs. He later moved his practice to Richmond. The store closed on Tommy Craig's death in 1947 and the title passed to Harold M. Craig.
In February of 1948, a major fire destroyed five buildings at the intersection of Main Street and Roger Stevens Drive including the old Royal Bank building. The clothing store survived the fire and became the "new" bank. The bank's front door faced Main Street and has since been replaced with windows, although the short cement walk and doorstep remain .
In 1950 there was a robbery involving Ernie Hollands, a subsequently reformed criminal who is now  a well-known television evangelist. Apparently the Hollands gang was stationed in a cottage near Kars and drove to North Gower late one afternoon to rob the bank. All the tellers were ordered to lie on the floor while the money was collected and the get-away car waited. The gang was soon apprehended. The Royal Bank remained a tenant in the building until about 1960.
The building subsequently housed a nursery school, and later an antique shop. More recently, it has been converted to apartments. In 1966 the property passed from H.M. Craig to Geraldine Stratton, who sold to Ada Pyke in 1975. In 1978, Annie Brown became the owner, followed by Christopher Hopkins in 1984 and Michael Maguire in 1986. The building is currently  owned by Audrey Miron
[after Peter Davidson, 1986. Sources 2, 3, 4]
The house was designated by By-law 82/86 of November 3, 1986. Reasons for designation:
"Designation is recommended on the basis of its history and location. It occupies a very prominent position on the Main Street of North Gower, an area whose heritage we are trying to preserve. It is tangible evidence of the early commercial development of the village.
Architecturally the house is a pleasant example of the two storey brick, L-shaped design popular throughout the Eastern Ontario countryside in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The designation applies to the exterior front elevation and the two side elevations only."
50 North Gower Tweedsmuir History. p 173.