By Jo Manning

Ted Ross’ story of the popular Niagara Grocery appeared in The Beacon in June, 2016. It was a wonderfully researched tale of the change in ownership of the store over the years, since its beginnings in 1908. The Niagara Grocery has a very special place in the history of James Bay. In fact, on October 4, 2010, it was a scene of the wedding between Marlene and Michael Jess, a merry occasion hosted by the Niagara Grocery. Marlene felt the pure food policy of the store was a good start to their marriage. She says, “Our grocer sheds light on a very important issue that we both feel strongly about and incorporate into our lifestyle: FOOD, How we get it, and Where it comes from”. “The Beacon, Nov.2010”

However, as Ted mentioned, In August of 2015 the store and an adjoining property came up for sale on the SW corner of Niagara and Government. The Grocery is on one lot, facing Niagara, and a house in ruin and almost falling down was on the other, facing Government. The devotees of the store worried that if the lots were sold, a condo complex could happen, and of course, no more Niagara Grocery.

But instead, there was a miracle. When Seamus McKeating and Jennifer Gunter took possession of the building in March 2016, they leased it back to Jennifer McKimmie and planned to renovate the two apartments above.

The renovation is well underway. The east side of the building is transformed by a balcony and stairs, beautifully constructed by Seamus.

Meanwhile the house remained on the other lot, in a sorry state – but not for long. Slowly, it began to disappear, piece by piece, until just the basic framework was left, with a white stove grandly holding forth in what used to be the kitchen.

And then one day it was gone. All that remained was a neat pile of scrap material to be recycled and the stove, now safely stored in a wire cage.

We await further developments with anticipation, but right now, it is so good to know that the Niagara Grocery will continue to serve our diverse community, hopefully for many years.

By Marlene & Michael Jess

On a windy day in September, we headed off along Dallas Road and through Beacon Hill Park in search of a site that would best suit us for exchanging vows on our wedding day. A few likely locations came up, but we were reluctant to commit. We were interested in a place that we frequent often, is in our neighbourhood, and is original. Within a few hours, we decided to approach Niagara Grocery in James Bay.

Niagara Grocery is a place that we go to everyday. It is our neighbourhood grocery store! We are patrons there because we can acquire local fare and fairly traded products. We enjoy the atmosphere and we find everything we need. Our grocer sheds light on a very important issue that we both feel strongly about and incorporate into our lifestyle: FOOD, How we get it, and Where it comes from.

Our wedding day was to be celebrated in low impact fashion, with a bike ride to Sooke Harbour House for a locally sourced feast in the evening. Having our close friends and family come together in a place that supports our approach to food would be the perfect way to kick off the morning. To our delight, Jennifer, Ken and the staff were more than enthusiastic about the idea.

And so, at 10 am, on October 4, 2010, my husband and I were married at Niagara Grocery in James Bay. Thank you to the woman with the dog who snapped this photograph for us and a Very Special Thank You to Niagara Grocery for hosting our wedding ceremony, and for being a strong, positive presence in our community.

See you in the morning!