Interview with Mr. George Hickox conducted John Wehrstein in 1972.
Mr. Hickox, now deceased, lived on Queen Street in St. , George for most of his life. He was born in 1889 and was able to relate many early memories of the village.
The shopping district of the town of St. George consists of a block of stores located on the east side of Main Street. Before 1000 there were more in the block directly north, including a bakeshop, shoe repair shop, livery stable, butcher shop and a privately owned bank. The whole block burned to the ground in a fire. This started in the bake shop. These stores were never rebuilt. The bank was privately owned by J.P. Lswrason. Following the fire, they relocated in the old Snowball wagon Works, where the BP Service Station is located today. The present bank today was built in the early 1900's. It was first the Merchants' Bank and then became the Bank of Montreal. At this time we would like to interview Mr. George Hickox, from whom we have obtained a wealth of information of early days in St. George. Mr. Hickox was born here and lives where Dean Morrison now lives. He has a wonderful memory and has a right to be called St. George's historian.
Interviewer: Mr. Hickox, could you tell us a little about the fire that burnt the stores?
Mr. Hickox: Well, it was a large fire. The livery stable was of course a lot of feed that made it burn very easily. The building was of frame construction. I was quite young when that fire was, but I remember being there.
Interviewer: Could you tell us exactly where the three hotels were located?
Mr. Hickox: One was where the Cenataph is now. The other was in the St. George asking lot and the other was where the present hotel is was called the Cummings lot. There was another and it was on the corner where the Bank is now, but that was burnt quite a few years before.
Interviewer: How many grocery stores were there and were the articles that were sold any different from today's items?
Mr. Hickox: Well, I think there were about five. Of course, some of the articles were as we have them today, but they were a lot cheaper than we get them today. Butter was about fifteen cents a pound, eggs were about ten cents a dozen, and meat was, Oh, would say about fifteen cents a pounds.
Interviewer: Mr. Hickox, do you recall when the Nursing Home was built and what was there before it was erected?
Mr. Hickox: That was erected about a year before I was born, but there was a Baptist minister, Eldred Davison, lived in a little house there on that property. That’s about al I can say about that property.
Interviewer: Who lived in Sunnyside?
Mr. Hickox: Dr. E. E. Kitchen built that place.
Interviewer: How much did it cost?
Mr. Hickox: Well, I would say around fourteen or fifteen thousand dollars.
Interviewer: Where was the harness shop located?
Mr. Hickox: Well, it was located in the block: on Main Street where the present TV repair store is, that was the harness shop.
Interviewer: Could you remember where the stream that drove the water wheel at the mill was located?
Mr. Hickox: That stream started just a little west of Reid Street and there was quite a number of chopping mills on them days. It came into a pond known as Reid Pond that is now a highway park and it went down to where the present mill is. Now, in those days that was only one storey. And it went across the road, well the pond is filled in now that was across from the mill. Then it went on down the Station Road to two other little chopping mills.
Interviewer: Back in that time, what were the hairstyles like, and have they changed from today? What was business like for the Barber compared to today?
Mr. Hickox: Well at that time the hairstyles I remember as a boy we always got our hair cut with a pair of clippers. They went all over our head and there was a lot more business, of course, than there was then.
Interviewer: Would there be a lumber mill and if so where was it located?
Mr. Hickox: There were two lumber mills, one along side of where the mill is now, there was a saw mill there. Where the Wagon Works property where the Service Station is on the corner there, that was the Wagon Works lumber mill.
Interviewer: Could you tell us about where the Bell Foundry was located? What did it manufacture?
Mr. Hickox: The Bell Foundry was located on the corner block on Reid and Beverly Streets. They made agricultural implements; plows, cultivators, steel rollers, cutting boxes, mowers and reapers.
Interviewer: Did many people have telephones and at that time if they did, who owned them?
Mr. Hickox: Well the telephone was, at that time, just a little switchboard in Harry Welles’ jewellery store. There were only about three or four lines. The mill, Wagon Works, the Foundry and I think the doctors had one. It was mostly used for long distance, of course, in those days.
Interviewer: Where was Karry Nelles’ Jewellery store?
Mr. Hickox: In Wilbur Jackson block, the little small store. Lee-Furniture has storage in that place now. (It is now the little shop).
Interviewer: We have a picture of the St. George Band. Could you tell us where they practiced and were there any members we might know? Where did they play?
Mr. Hickox: Well, the old school used to sit on West Street, and after the new school was built, it was partly torn down, and that's where the Band used to practice, over there. Now there's very few which the families had members of the Old Band any more in St. George.
Interviewer: Was Lawrason in it?
Mr. Hickox: Yes. But I can't remember too many others. I can't think as good as I used to be able to.
Interviewer: When was the library in the village started and who started it?
Mr. Hickox: That was started before my time, of course, but Mr. Lawrason and Dr. E. E. Kitchen were the ones that started the library.
Interviewer: Do you remember the railroad accident that happened in 1889?
Mr. Hickox: I can't remember because that was February 20 in 1339 and I wasn't born until December 21 of 1889. But I remember a lot about it. The old people told me abut it. It was caused by a tire on one of the drive wheels coming loose and tearing up the ties.
Interviewer: Was anybody killed and if so, would we know any of them?
Mr. Hickox: There was none killed from around this part of the country or injured. It was the express coming through from Chicago.
Interviewer: Okay. Could you tell us a little information about the water system?
Mr. Hickox: Well, the first water system in St. George was just a private affair. There was a distillery at that time down where the Parking lot is and they had a square wooden pipe to carry water from there to where the present water system gets the water now. It was later formed into a private company and they installed iron piping.
Interviewer: Thank you Mr. Hickox.