Last vestige of Berry’s Feeds
Tom Van Dusen
Nation Valley News
SOUTH MOUNTAIN — Once head office and distribution depot for a well-known Eastern Ontario livestock and pet food chain of more than 50 stores, a local landmark built 80 years ago was torn down here this week.
Except for storage, the one-storey, 6,000 square-ft. Berry building adjacent to the South Mountain Fairgrounds had been empty for 15 years. It was owned by Don Duncan of Double Diamond Trucking who used to haul pet food to the Berry’s operation from manufacturers in the U.S. The building was the last vestige of the once proud Berry rural network.
“The place had been empty for a while when I got hold of it,” Duncan said. “I was just going to demolish part of the building that was collapsing… but after we started, I saw the whole place had to come down.”
The trucker and cash cropper was becoming increasingly concerned that someone — even a child — could get hurt in or even near the dilapidated building. Tons of general debris are being carted to the municipal landfill – at full disposal cost – while metal is being recovered by scrap dealer Andy Lubbers who remembers the building from his days attending school in South Mountain.
When the site is cleared and approvals are in place, Duncan is considering a residential development for retirees, something he sees a market for in the South Mountain area.
Duncan bought the place after the Berry family closed up shop. During the demolition, a stone plaque was salvaged from over a window and taken to a nearby cash crop operation co-owned by John Mellan and wife Nancy, a Berry family member. Carved into the stone are “Berryholm” and “1941.”
Although the business folded many years ago and little emotional attachment to the old headquarters remained, Nancy said she was pleased to have the stone memento. She said Duncan did the right thing in taking down what has become a safety hazard.
She recalls working part-time in the basement of the building sorting refill orders for the Berry stores: “It was a different time. If a farmer called in for some bags of chicken starter, we’d leave it out on the step and he’d pick it up when he got around to it. We knew nobody would steal the feed and we knew we’d get paid.”