Nova Scotia

'Devastating': Historic N.S. general store damaged in fire

The beloved General Store in Petite Rivière, N.S., is closed after a fire broke out early Monday morning. When the local fire department arrived, the fire had already made its way inside the century-old structure.

‘It is the heart and soul of the community,’ says co-owner Peter MacNeil

The General Store in Petite Rivière, N.S., caught fire early Monday morning. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

The beloved General Store in Petite Rivière, N.S., is closed after a fire broke out early Monday morning.

The store's co-owner, Peter MacNeil, said neighbours heard a loud bang around 1 a.m. AT and rushed to see what happened.

"It looks like it was the generator that we had going, and it looks like it blew up," he said. "There could have been something faulty in the generator, it was only a three-year-old generator."

When the local fire department arrived, the fire had already made its way inside the century-old structure.

MacNeil said they set up the generator against the outside wall of the store on Saturday afternoon after the village lost power as Hurricane Dorian made its way across Nova Scotia.

Peter MacNeil co-owns the General Store with his wife and another couple. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

"Trying to keep the store open, we have frozen meats and milk and stuff inside, so the generator [was] trying to keep those things for the local community," he said.

No official cause has been determined for the fire and the investigation is ongoing.

For many in Petite-Rivière and the South Shore, the General Store was the go-to for everything from food to gas to liquor.

"We don't have any other nearby shops where we can just run and get our necessities," said Ria Hodgson, who lives nearby.

MacNeil says the generator used to power the General Store during the outage blew up early Monday morning. Fire officials haven't officially determined the fire's cause. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Audrey Doane's uncle once owned the store.

"It's so devastating," she said. "It just doesn't seem real."

Doane said it's not only a huge loss for the community, but a loss for the community's history.

"Inside the store, walls are laden with all the original pictures of the store," she said. "A lot of artifacts were inside that store."

MacNeil said it's not just a store that sells products, but a gathering hub in the community. He said the front porch was always full of people drinking coffee, chatting and enjoying themselves.

MacNeil says 'Senators' Corner' is where people would sit, chat and enjoy their morning or afternoon coffee. One of the 'Senators' passed away not too long ago, so the co-owners erected a plaque in his honour. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

"It is the heart and soul of the community," said MacNeil.

He said he hasn't spoke with the other co-owners — his wife and another couple — about what to do next.

"As far as I'm concerned, I think they would feel the same way, that we will rebuild," he said.

That feeling is echoed in members of the community.

"I'm sure with its support... that we will see it rebuilt it and it will rise again," said Doane. "And everybody will be happy again."

MORE TOP STORIES

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.