In 2010, Avondale Stores Limited celebrated 45 years in the
convenience store business. Locally owned and operated, the 96 “stores” and dairy operation from which
they evolved are a testament to hard work, commitment, dedication, and above
all the “entrepreneurial spirit”.
1931: Milk delivery to local St.
Catharines households was started by Harry W. Stewart from his family farm
on Stewart Road (a property that has been in the family for several
generations). A small pasteurising plant - 30' by 40' - was built from
concrete block on the farm, with deliveries made by one horse and wagon.
Frank W. Stewart started the
second milk route, while Margery, Fred, Jim, Bob and Bill worked in the
plant and did farm chores when not in school.
Robert G. Stewart,
president of Avondale Stores Limited, started the third milk route.
Tragedy struck the family
when Harry W. Stewart was struck by an automobile and died of his injuries.
By this time there were five milk routes and the farming operation had grown
to 1,000 acres comprising farms on Stewart Road, Carlton Street in St.
Catharines, and on No. 8 Highway West. Frank and Bob took over the milk
processing and distribution business, while Fred and Jim became owners and
operators of the farms. The farms were known locally as Clovelly and
Stewart Haven Farms.
Avondale had started selling
dairy products to ships passing through the Welland Canal, 24 hours per day.
A “Dairy Bar” was build on
Stewart Road to manufacture and retail ice cream and related products to the
public. The dairy bar became an instant success because of the fresh, high
quality ice cream made right on the premises. Dairy cattle and barns in the
background added to the atmosphere.
Emmett’s milk route was
purchased serving ships on the Welland Canal.
1958: The Garden City Dairy
was purchased adding three milk routes. This was a local business started
forty-two years before.
The new dairy processing
plant was constructed behind the dairy bar. The growing number of milk
routes was straining the capacity of the old plant.
1963: Campbell’s Dairy in
Niagara-on-the-Lake was purchased adding five routes and a new territory.
Their plant was closed and remodelled into an old-fashioned ice cream
The Shelvock Dairy (Thorold)
marine route was taken over.
The first store in the
present convenience store chain was founded. Avondale Store #1 in Vineland
on Victoria Avenue. This was originally an ice cream parlour, restaurant
and convenience store. Also in March of 1965 Avondale Stores Limited
purchased the three Mason’s Dairy Stores. These were 124 Main Street n Port
Dalhousie, 50 St. Paul Street West in St. Catharines and 210 Niagara Street
in St. Catharines. Along with the purchase of these three stores came the
old Mason’s Dairy building located at 10 Dunlop Drive in St. Catharines.
This building would become the Avondale Stores Head Office and warehouse for
the next twenty-three years.
Rainbow Dairy of Welland was
purchased, bringing with it 18 more routes.
Sunshine Dairy on Carlton
Street in St. Catharines was purchased.
Saw the take over of the
Puritan Dairy of Dunnville, and also the Fort Erie Dairy.
Finally, 1969 also saw
the take over of Avondale Dairy by Beatrice Foods, while the family retained
ownership of the “Stores”. Over 95% of the Dairy’s sales were generated by
home delivery. The home delivery market was beginning to decline thanks to
the influence of the large grocery chains such as A&P, Loblaws, and Dominion
Stores. Home delivery of bread and related baked product was already
starting to disappear. The chains were able to supply dairy products to the
consumer at a lower price because they didn’t have the burden of an
expensive delivery fleet manned by commissioned salespersons. And, the
consumer’s preference was beginning to shift to a weekly trip to the local
supermarket for all their grocery needs including milk.
Before the Beatrice
takeover, unsuccessful attempts had been made to sell dairy products to the
big chains. They preferred to do business with a large province-wide dairy
company such as Silverwood’s who could service all of Ontario. Avondale,
being only in the Niagara area, didn’t have the logistics to look after such
a large area.
Bob Stewart remained in
place as General Manager of the new dairy, while brother Frank ran Avondale
Stores Limited, which was becoming firmly established in the Niagara
Peninsula with 19 stores.
now the convenience store business was emerging as a growth industry,
catering to increased consumer demand for “convenience”. Therefore,
beginning in the 1970's Avondale Stores Limited embarked on a program of
rapid expansion across the Niagara peninsula. The best locations were
either leased or purchased and stores opened in order to serve the entire
Niagara Region with Avondale products.
The Avondale Head Office
and Warehouse had outgrown the Mason’s dairy plant in St. Catharines. The
entire operation was moved to the former Moyer Diebel plant in Jordan Station.
The current warehouse is close to 70,000 square feet of storage and office space
overlooking the QEW highway at Jordan Road and Lake Ontario to the north.
To ensure continued growth and
success, product mix in the stores is continually reviewed and updated to keep
the consumer coming back. Avondale continues to react to emerging trends.
Several general merchandise stores called “Dollar Marts” were opened to fill the consumer’s need for variety items at a reasonable price
and there are two “Avon Marts” which are half convenience and half general
merchandise. In addition, more than two thirds of all Avondale Stores now have
a selection of gift
Food Stores Limited There
are Diner Express Coffee centers in over 70 Avondale locations providing
self-serve regular, decaf and Rich Mountain Blend Diner coffees as well as hot
chocolate, cappuccinos and specialty herbal teas.
The following stores also have drive thru windows for quick
serve coffee as well as other items in the store that can be passed through to your
#19 – 6874 Kalar Road, Niagara Falls
#45 – 51986 Forkes Road, Wainfleet
#50 – 3231 Snyder Street, Stevensville
#128 – 10 MacTurnbull Drive, St. Catharines
L.C.B.O. Agency Program In 2002 Avondale was awarded the LCBO Agency Store Appointment for Vineland
and received the right to open an agency outlet in Wainfleet the following
year. Both stores carry a large selection of LCBO and Beer Store products with
convenient store hours. The LCBO/Beer Store side of these stores is open from
7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Monday – Saturday and on Sunday’s from 11:00 a.m. to
If you need to reach either store to check their hours of
operation or information on their product selection, please call:
#01 – 3916 Victoria Avenue, Vineland – (905) 562-3371