Many of the original architectural details are still seen on this two-story classic revival red brick building (built circa 1910). Brick pilasters visually divide the fa├žade into three individual spaces. Each pilaster features a prominent medallion at the top. A decorative scalloped cornice runs the length of the entire building. Windows have been updated to save energy but this has not altered the sills, the stoop, nor the charm of the old entrance bay.


Although the renovation of 36 Mill Street brought about some modernization to the building, affixed to the left of our doorway is a plaque awarded by the Mississippi Mills Heritage Committee for architectural conservation.

An Old Style Mercantile

Leonard G. Lee, the founder of Lee Valley Tools.

The seed for the idea of an old-fashioned store was planted long ago. The iconic Leonard G. Lee, who lived on a farm near Almonte, Ontario, was no stranger to tools, hardware, household goods or hard work. For the man who founded Lee Valley Tools, a woodworking and gardening tool company that is a Canadian success story, the space at 36 Mill Street was like a return to his small town Saskatchewan farming roots where trips to the old hardware store in Archerwill were an influential part of his early life. He purchased the property in 1998 and immediately set upon successfully restoring the building's original integrity and function right up to and including the tin ceilings seen in earlier photographs of the interior.

Semi-retired, he ran several businesses out of the space, including Canica Design, a medical tools company, Algrove Publishing, the publishing arm of Lee Valley Tools, and Chestnut Tools, a small company that designs and sources a wide variety of woodworking and gardening tools as well as useful household products. When Canica was sold a few years back, it left the ground level empty.

With Algrove and Chestnut still active on the second floor, the unoccupied store-front presented the perfect opportunity for Leonard to water the seed of his old dream. Not long after, he and his sons Robin and James opened a small country-style mercantile in the heart of the community he called home. Never very far from the memories and experiences of Leonard's rural roots, the Lee family intends to keep the family legacy of serving community alive through L.G. Lee & Sons.

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