a tour of the Barwick Cafe.


Once inside, one could see the square tiled space was clearly her home.  The table against the wall was covered in balls of wool and her latest projects.


The front picture window was filled with houseplants – multiple pots along the window’s edge and hanging from above.  A peacock or bird hung within a metal circle by the window. An old black and white TV was tucked in amongst the plants.  I faintly remember it being on only a few times late at night.


Her chrome table sat near the big picture window surrounded by chairs.   Fridges sat in the back right corner – filled with drinks. Stacks of 2L bottles of pop were stored in the corner on plastic crates. Over the years, I remember when her shelves became emptier. She didn’t carry as much stock.


The deep freeze was tucked around the corner when you first walked in the door to the left.  The creak it made when you lifted the lid to choose something from inside. Drumsticks. Ice cream sandwiches.  Freezes.


She had a wall of shelving behind the counter for cigarettes and other grocery items.  The showpiece (and her pride and joy), was an old antique cash register.  Apparently she had many offers from interested buyers.  I just remember that it had an ornate metal exterior, with round metal buttons like a typewriter.

I don’t remember a lot about the back of the Cafe.  We didn’t go back there. It was her private space. Through the doorway (beneath the Fanta sign) you would walk into her little kitchen, then into a back room where she slept.


Grandma parked her truck along the right side of her cafe.  A brown Dodge pick up.


I took these photos this summer when I was home.  Mom had to go into town to work one morning. I decided to join her and brought my camera.  It would give me a chance to take some photos. One of the first I wanted to take was Grandma Ina’s Cafe.

I haven’t been to the cafe in over 10 years and I was so surprised by the condition of the building.  It was sad to see it rotting. The floors had completely collapsed – like two sink holes.  Someone took the heating system out, which left an open hole in the roof for water to come in.


It was strange to see her old table chairs sitting there as though the chrome table was plucked out and they were left behind.


It was weird to see her clock still up on the wall and posters that had always been there (the Fanta one). Her papers and odds and ends were still near the little window by the kitchen door.  It was still her place but it was ruined.


She spent her entire life giving herself to that cafe and now it’s in shambles.  It makes a person think about where we invest our time and what we see as important.  Will it matter to anyone else when we’re gone?  And does that matter…



Note from Lainie:
I’m currently trying to find a picture of Grandma’s Cafe when it was operating as a cafe (probably around the 1950s or 60s).  I’ve visited museums in Chapple and Emo.  I’ve also contacted the Fort Frances Times (our local newspaper).  If you are reading this and happen to have a photo of her cafe or know where I should look, I would really appreciate your help.  Thank you!

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