Find all of my posts on Swords in one place - The Swords Project
When the railway brought lumbering to the area in 1894, a store and three workers homes were built on the west side of the Tally Ho/Swords Road. The store was directly south of the railway (now the Seguin trail). A Mr. Saunders and a Mr. Rand managed the store until Thomas Sword bought it in 1900. The store carried everything from feed and flour to hardware and groceries. A post office was also run out of the store.
The general store acted as a meeting place for the residents of Maple Lake Station, and they would gather on Friday or Saturday nights, depending on the train schedule.
When Thomas Sword died in 1921, his wife Eliza "Lyde" Sword ran the store with the help of her brother, Walter Cornish. After taking over the store, she decided that she would no longer carry tobacco in her store. She soon learned the error of her ways, though, when a local man begun to sell tobacco, along with a few other sundry items out of his home. Lyde began to stock tobacco once again.
In 1928 Lyde was granted permission to install a gasoline tank after petitioning the town council. It was at this time that she remarried to a George Walton and the couple continued to run the store for a couple of years.
The general store was sold in 1930 to John Lawson. John's son, Wilson and his wife Harriet ran the store from that time until it closed for good. I'm not sure when the store ceased operation, but my Granddad remembers going into the store for hardware thirty-odd years ago when he was building cottages on Mutton Lake.
The building was a permanent residence until 1984, and then used seasonally until rather recently, remaining in the Lawson name. The tax bill is now payed by a Mr. Frank Tagliamonte of North Bay. I'm not sure when the property sold, but it had to have been in the last few years. My husband's Aunt and Uncle were interested in the property when it was for sale, wanting to restore the building. The structure is too far gone, though. It's truly unfortunate that the old general store has been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair.
When I was up at the store with my Granddad, he pointed out to me some activity; fresh tire tracks, trees being cut with a chainsaw, and a well that had recently been dug. These are things that had gone unnoticed by me during my first visit - and I thought I had an eye for detail. Driving by the other day, I saw that the lot was being surveyed and marked.
Something is happening!
I wonder what will become of the old general store at Swords. What of the memories housed within? I always wonder about what's been left behind. Who loved these items, what value do they have? What causes people to walk away from the contents of their home? I can't imagine.
Sources of information -
Christie Historical Committee, Meanderings and Memories, 1894 - 1995, Christie Township
Andrew Hind, Maria Da Silva, Ghost Towns of Muskoka
Ontario Ghost Towns
Ontario Abandoned Places