Chez Emile’s take-out in Arichat is pictured in 1982.

At one time, Arichat’s main street was one of the busiest and most progressive in the province.

There were hotels, barrooms, a Chinese laundry, a photography studio, ice cream/candy parlours, 10 or 11 general merchandise stores. Many iconic buildings in Arichat and many more family residences were lost to history as they fell victim to fire. In an era when fire protection was all but nonexistent, a blaze was virtually unimpeded as it consumed everything in its path.

Once, a very historic building stood on what is today the Rona lumber yard. This building was all that survived of the once formidable Robin fish and shipping enterprise. It had been built in the mid to late 1790s on the south side of the harbour as a general store.

In 1903, as the company downsized its operation, it procured the services of Lawrence Mury of West Arichat to float and relocate this rather substantial structure. Utilizing man and horse power and pulleys and hundreds of barrels, the job was completed successfully. In 1911 the Robin presence in Arichat passed into history when the store was sold to Thomas Boudrot, a sea captain and his wife Jane. She oversaw the business, which included the store and rental units.

The central part of the building was two storied with general merchandise on the ground floor and clothing and yard goods above. The roof line swooped down on both sides from the raised midpoint; on the east side was a living accommodation for the family. On the west side was an office area, which was leased over the years to such people as Dr. Deveau, Dr. Herbin, and lawyer John J. Copland.

With the passing of Captain Thomas and Jane and the closing of the store, daughter Eva and her husband Ben Young resided there. Later the old place returned to its commercial roots, and when it fell victim to fire in 1974, it housed a clothing outlet and Ron’s T.V., a television repair shop whose proprietor was Malcolm Jackson.

Across from the first municipal building Danny Sutherland and his sister Katie operated a tiny restaurant/store out of their home. The Hassins, Ahmed and Nellie were the next occupants, and they ran a clothing store there until fire destroyed it in 1970.

In the centre of the main street stood the stately home and business of Constant Theriault. This structure was a general merchandise store on the first floor while the family made their home on the upper level. In the 1960’s this house was sold to Moussa Hassin who sold it in turn to Joe Samson; he established a lunch counter/pool hall, which burned in 1978.

In the 1940s a restaurant was hauled in from Petit de Grat and became D.D. MacDonald Ltd. Arichat Branch, a clothing store for the whole family. When it closed its doors, it was purchased by Jerome George and turned into Kwik Way, a convenience store, until it burned in 1995.

Not far from the Kwik Way was the takeout restaurant known as Chez Emile’s located next to the home of Emile, Eleanor, and Edouard Benoit. It too caught fire and burned before the turn of the century.