Hosking General Store, Oyster Pond
Florence (Flora) Henry (1853-1918) came to Oyster Pond in the early 1870s to teach school. She married John Duncan Mitchell in 1875, had two children, Roxanna and William, and was widowed in 1885 at the age of 32. In 1891, Flora started a general store in her home in Oyster Pond. Around 1894, she commissioned local builder, Fred Howard Stoddard, to construct a two-storey store on the main road, Highway 7. It cost $350 to build including the shelves and counters. Architecturally, the flat roofed building is typical of many other homes and businesses in the area built by Fred Stoddard. Flora ran the store in its new location until her death in 1918. During her lifetime, the store was known as "Flowie Dunc's" or "Mrs. JD’s." Oyster Pond was populated by a number of Mitchells, including several John Mitchells, so Flora’s husband was known as John Dunc, and his wife, “Mrs. J.D.” or more affectionately, “Mrs. Flowie Dunc.”
Early records show that Flora had goods brought by schooner from Halifax to Jeddore Harbour. She had an arrangement with a Mr. James Anderson, who lived in Halifax (relationship unknown), to procure goods on her behalf and ship them to Oyster Pond. Several letters from James Anderson to Flora suggest that he was enthusiastic about obtaining goods for her. From the records, it appears that after establishing relationships with her suppliers, she no longer needed the services of Mr. Anderson. Account books from the early years also show that Flora traveled by schooner to Halifax to conduct business in person wherein she was rumoured to have “jumped” from one schooner to another while at sea, because the second vessel was taking a more direct route home.
Florence died in 1918, and ownership of the store passed to her daughter Roxanna “Roxie” Ethel Mitchell (1877-1941) and son William “Willie O” Mose Ogle Mitchell (1881-1949). Willie O. was certainly more involved in the business than his sister, with the business stationery featuring his name as early as 1903 when he was 22 years old.
Roxie married Frederick William Hosking (1874-1931) in 1903, and for a time, she and Frederick operated an ice cream parlour on the second floor of the store. The ice cream came twice a week by train from Scotia Pure Milk in Halifax. From Harbour Station in Musquodoboit Harbour, the ice cream was taken by wagon the seven kilometres back to Oyster Pond. It came in steel containers that were packed in large wooden tubs filled with ice. It was kept in Willie O's ice house until serving time.
Sometime around 1910, a single storey warehouse and office were added to either side of the main two-storey building. The office was used by Willie O. throughout his time running the store. The ice cream parlor operated from 1919 to 1929, and in later years, the upstairs was used as a showroom for Christmas displays, a storage area, and meeting place.
In 1949, Roxie’s son, Garth Merdon Leon Hosking (1912-1994), and his wife, Mildred Roberts (1916-2009), took over ownership of the store and renamed it Hosking General Store. In addition to the store, Garth also owned and operated the Hosking Garage, which serviced vehicles and sold gas. While the store letterhead was in Garth Hosking's name, the business was primarily run by his wife, Mildred. She knew her customers and loved the business. In later years, the store also offered home delivery. The store ran successfully for another 25 years, closing in 1975.
After Hosking General Store closed, the building was used for community events until 1995 when its age began to show, and it was slated for demolition. Learning of this, the Lake Charlotte Area Heritage Society approached Mildred Hosking, and she donated the building to them. The store was cut in two and placed in storage until the Society built Memory Lane Heritage Village in 2000.
In the attached video, Elaine (Hosking) Dooks, daughter of Garth and Mildred Hosking, tells the story of the three generations who ran Hosking General Store – a store that sold everything from a needle to an anchor.