Some of the more observant members of our community may have noticed the artifact attached to the building which contains our store. They can be forgiven for drawing the conclusion that it is a “For Sale” sign, but nothing could be farther from the truth. It is in fact part of a public artwork exhibition that is currently on display across the entire country from coast to coast, from the tiniest village to the largest urban centre. It is part of a statement being made by the corporate world by renowned sponsors like Remax, Sutton Group, and Royal LePage about the importance of art and culture to our country and a reminder that without these efforts made by our artists, the value of our lives would be severely diminished.
Okay, the building is for sale. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great building. I wouldn’t have remained in it for more than six years as a tenant if it wasn’t a terrific place for a bookstore. It’s just that it will take a very special individual to become the new owner, particularly given the building’s history.
You see, it first opened in 1900 as Armstrong Dry Goods store and continued in this capacity until the early ‘30’s, when it was shut down temporarily as an illegal still. The building was subsequently re-opened as a Bell Telephone Exchange office and served as an important piece in the growing monopoly of the telecommunications giant. There is no truth to the rumour that in the late 1940’s, the notorious serial killer Reginald Bambury, the so-called Fiend of Flesherton, moved into the upstairs apartment and began a four-year reign of terror which resulted in the murder of 47 residents of the community. There were in fact only 46 victims. I should also point out to local thrill-seekers that the remains have now been completely removed from the basement by the forensic team, so there is nothing left to explore.
Things settled down until the mid-‘60’s, when a jilted lover took his own life in the apartment upstairs after receiving a devastating break-up letter from the fiancée who was the love of his life. Despite many of the surrounding residents reporting that they have heard blood-curdling screams from that apartment and have witnessed the sight of his ghost peering out the second-floor window, I have not experienced this personally. But then, I am not easily distracted when I am writing.
At this point, I should also point out that there is no validity to the claim that the building is beset by a poltergeist. I can assure everyone that it is not. The loud banging sounds that can be heard at all times of the day are the result of chunks of the roof dropping into the attic, easily explained as the result of the abuse the place took in the 1990’s when the building was the site of a busy crack-house.
As you can clearly see, the little building on Toronto Street has a colourful past and it offers its new potential owner many hours of enjoyment while regaling this story to anyone who has a sympathetic ear. When he isn’t trying to remove its Heritage designation as the location of the largest Ebola outbreak in Grey Highlands history, that is. Not to worry, though. I can categorically state that I have never worn a hazmat suit in the building since the store has been open. Well once, but it turned out to be a false alarm created by an escaped hamster with blood coming out of its ears.
And by the way, did I mention the old washerwoman with the Evil Eye from Proton Station who put a curse on anyone who tries to evict either of the operators of the bookstore or the sound studio upstairs?