It all started with a bowl of macaroni and cheese. One drizzly afternoon I was craving my favourite comfort food when I discovered I was out of milk. Without a car, I realized the closest grocery store was at least a 25-minute (uphill) walk, and the closest corner store at least 15.
I asked myself: was the macaroni and cheese worth the uphill battle in the rain? In the end, I called my husband, who had our vehicle that day, and asked him to grab some milk on the way home.
But my pasta predicament got me thinking about the beloved corner grocery store. These days they are fewer and farther between, with a limited selection of mass-produced bread and processed foods.
What happened to the family-run grocery stores of St. John’s?
The search begins for the provisioners of the past
During the pandemic, my mother-in-law took us on a walk around the neighbourhood where she grew up on Mayor Avenue. Even though Rabbittown was somewhere we walked regularly (especially during the peak of the pandemic, when daily walks were the only way to get outside) she opened my eyes to a world of grocery shopping I have rarely experienced in my 30-something years of existence.
“There was Coveyduck’s store, and this was Cook’s. We always shopped at Greene’s because we had credit there — oh, and we never shopped at Shea’s because it was owned by Catholics, and we were Anglican.”
It went on and on. On one street alone there had been more than five little stores, attached to people’s homes, now nothing more than an awkward addition cloaked in new vinyl siding.
In our new neighbourhood,