CARGILL – Kevin McKague held a special open house in Cargill, by invitation only, for members of Brockton council, Bruce County Tourism and other local dignitaries the afternoon of Sept. 2.
McKague introduced those who attended to the four new businesses he’s established in Cargill, plus the new apartment suites he’s constructing above the businesses.
One of those present for the open house, Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody, congratulated McKague on his contributions to the community through the new businesses and presented McKague and his wife Susan with a plaque.
“It’s a great little community here … it’s fantastic what you’ve done with the art gallery and other businesses,” said the mayor. “It’s a great day for Brockton. We appreciate what you’ve done here.”
The new businesses are the Mill Pond Gallery, which showcases the work of a number of local artists who use a variety of media – paintings, stained glass, metal, photography, fabric, wood and ceramics; the Bruce County Bookstore, with the largest collection of books about the county anywhere; The Dam Ice Cream Bar – certainly a favourite warm weather stop this past summer; and the Cargill Museum and Visitor Centre.
“It’s been a big project,” McKague told the group.
Helping with the project has become a family effort, he said. It’s fitting, since family is where he got his inspiration. He told how, as a child, his grandmother used to bring him to Cargill – to Raper’s General Store – for a few candies.
“There’s so much potential here,” he said.
He’s become somewhat of an expert on local history and has written a book on the subject. McKague told the group about Henry Cargill, at one time the largest employer in the area. Cargill constructed good, solid buildings and sold them to others who wanted to establish businesses.
“He attracted a lot of businesses to Cargill,” McKague said.
Cargill served his community in many ways, including as the area’s Member of Parliament. McKague said that when Cargill died, 10,000 people gathered to pay their respects.
The Museum and Visitor Centre is housed in the former bank. It was the scene of the county’s first bank robbery. The robber was tracked down and apprehended in the United States. There’s a short video that tells the story, in the bank’s old vault.
McKague keeps track of where visitors to his businesses come from. Most have some sort of connection to the area. They’re visiting family, or spending time at the cottage.
Although Labour Day marked the closing of the gallery, ice cream bar and visitor centre for the season, plans are already in the works to reopen the gallery for Christmas, starting Nov. 12.
And next summer in Cargill will be better than ever, with more for visitors to enjoy while learning about the area’s history and natural heritage. McKague said he’s had a lot of inquiries about the popular swamp tours that had to be put on hold due to COVID.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times