The Gananoque, Ont., community is pulling together to help a couple of business people who lost their home on Howe Island late last week to a fire.
Last Friday, Tom Stormonth and Alison Dunn, owners and operators of Beggar’s Banquet Books in downtown Gananoque, had their whole world turned upside down.
“The fire originated at the pellet stove-slash-chimney connection, somewhere there,” says Stormonth.
“It’s pretty obvious when you look at the house that that’s where the flare-up was. Walls missing, windows missing, the roof gone and it spread from there.”
No people were hurt in the blaze, however, a pet dog, Lola, was extremely lucky.
Howe Island Fire Chief Mike Quinn says damage is estimated to be at least $200,000.
The Friday fire, while tragic, has brought out the best in people.
“We’ve been offered houses to stay in for free,” says Stormonth. “It’s been overwhelming.”
“People have been coming to the door and handing us a bag and we get the bag and there’s cookies in the bag and there’s a $50 bill inside. And they just run away when they do it and they just say, ‘We’re really sorry to hear about your loss,’ and they leave.”
And it doesn’t stop there.
“People have brought socks and clothes and boots and so on,” Stormonth continues. “It’s been wonderful in that respect. Home Hardware, as soon as they heard, they called down and said, ‘We’re setting up an account for you.’ They put a thousand dollars in there — ‘tell us what else you need.'”
“We’re a small town and if we’re not going to looking after each other, who is?” says Home Hardware general manager Laura Ware.
Ware says she can’t imagine what the bookstore owners are going through.
“No I can’t, I can’t,” she says. “And his poor dog, almost losing his poor dog. And thankfully Lola is okay. But again, it’s just about, we can do something so why won’t you.”
Grateful for the support, all involved say pulling together is what community does. And Gananoque does it well.
“The best way to help us as a small business is to shop in our store,” says Stormonth. “To shop local, to help other small businesses too. Everybody is in the same boat.”