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This box store on First Street existed long before Wal-Mart

This Long Brothers building on First Street in Collingwood's early years was known as a one-stop shop.

This week’s featured photograph is a striking reminder of two First Street buildings that were originally located along the north side of First Street between Hurontario and Pine Streets, the present-day location of the Admiral Building at 1 First Street.

The large three-storey brick building in today’s photograph was constructed by T. Long and Bro. as a new warehouse, opening on April 6, 1914. In later years, this building was home to National Grocers Co. Limited (Photograph 2).

The unassuming white building housed Henry Poehlman’s Wholesale warehouse which opened in June 1911. The hand-painted sign on the building’s street-facing side reads “H. Poehlman / Foreign and Domestic Fruits / Grain, Hay, Seed, Etc.”

This smaller structure was later used by Smart Bros. Limited, a local cannery that was one of Collingwood’s largest employers during its operation between 1892 and 1964. A 1948 photograph in the Collingwood Museum’s collection shows five delivery trucks and drivers in front of this building (Photograph 3). The National Grocers building is visible on the left, as well as a single-storey brick structure also used by Smart’s.

According to the 1887 Jubilee History of the Town of Collingwood, Thomas Long began his business as a general merchant in 1858 in a small frame room on the east side of Hurontario Street. His brother, John J. Long joined the business in 1862.

Between 1858 and 1887, T. Long and Bro. moved four times, occupying buildings on both sides of the main street. A “magnificent series of stores” were constructed following the Great Fire of September 1881 to replace the company’s towering four-storey brick building that appears in photographs of Hurontario Street in 1874.

“It may be said of the Long Bros. establishment, that a man may go in at one door and go out at another, having purchased a complete household outfit while in the building, so complete a stock do they carry at all times.” (1887 Jubilee History of the Town of Collingwood)

To learn more about T. Long & Bro., Collingwood’s changing main street, or any of the businesses referenced in today’s feature, please contact museum staff at [email protected].

Remember This is a weekly series of historic photographs submitted by the Collingwood Museum to These photographs were originally collected and documented by the Huron Institute in an historical catalogue entitled Huron Institute Paper and Records: Volume III. Much of Collingwood’s early history has been preserved due to the dedication and foresight of the early museum’s founders, namely its secretary-curator David Williams, upon its establishment in 1904.