Self-Guided Tours — Westmeath

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75th Anniversary of Gas Pumps


Many of us are happy that we can still buy gas in Westmeath because small gas stations are disappearing from villages everywhere. However, few drivers realize that gas pumps have been on that spot since British American Oil arrived in 1933.

William Lingstrums "Westmeath Meat market" was built in 1922Back then the store was the Westmeath Meat Market, built in 1922 and operated by William Lingstrum, an immigrant from Sweden who lived in the log house at 1835 Gore Line. The meat business was a co-operative. Before the era of refrigeration, families had a fresh supply of meat year round by belonging to the ‘beef ring’. Every couple of days, a cow or pig was slaughtered and the meat was parceled out and delivered. Each member was required to contribute an animal a certain number of times per year.

For a while, the gas pumps shared the corner with a blacksmith shop (one of those times when modes of the future and bygone days co-existed). Gideon Gervais shod horses in a building where the flagpoles are now. When Mr. Lingstrum’s daughter Hazel married Ed Conroy, they took over the business and expanded the range of merchandise to that of a general store; bulk items like fence wire and cow salt were kept in the old blacksmith shed.

During the difficult war years 1939-1945, Conroy’s General Store was command-central when women of the village packaged up sweets, cigarettes, knitted items, newspapers, etc. for local boys serving overseas. Customers used ration books to purchase items of limited supply, including gas.

Kenny's store in 2007. Same original building.The Conroy’s were presented with a plaque from British American Oil (which their daughter Noreen Desjardins still has) for being the longest service operator for the company in all of Canada. The Conroy’s retired in 1969, and Bryan and June Kenny became the new proprietors.

Kenny’s Store has maintained the original old building with cedar shingles and shutters but attached it to their own house and added additions. Many Kenny offspring have pumped gas. Next time as you sit and watch the dollars add up at the pump, think about what has changed in the world in 75 years and what has stayed the same at the corner of Main Street and Gore Line.