The Neilson Store, built around 1883, is a historic landmark on Amherst Island constructed by James S. Neilson, who came to the island from Sandhurst on the mainland, in 1865. Mr. Neilson went into partnership with Mr. Polly who was already operating an island store.
In 1873, Mr. Neilson began his own operation and the store served the island for almost a century. In the early years, the Neilson family expanded their business. They carried a full line of household goods – from corset laces to oil lamp wicks, canvas for grain binders to barley forks, from dry goods to hardware and of course, groceries.
A post office occupied the northwest corner and a pot-bellied stove drew a group of regulars who gathered around it to chew tobacco and swap stories. Business was good! James’ sons, Rod and Fred Neilson, were able to hire a full-time employee. Maurice Hogeboom, an Island resident, was a familiar figure at the store for 43 years.
Over the years, Neilson’s Store and dock became the commercial centre of the island. It provided services in shipping and receiving goods and produce, storing and selling coal, barley and milled feed.
Smaller steamers made regular scheduled stops at the dock for passengers and freight. Barges loaded with coal, and cargo-laden sailboats were also frequent visitors.