By Chad Ingram
For generations of people, Robinson’s General Store has been synonymous with the hamlet of Dorset.
That was certainly the case in my family. Summers at Halls Lake meant at least one trip each year to Dorset. Those excursions invariably included a visit to the terrifying attraction that is the Dorset tower and, once my tears had subsided, a meandering through Robinson’s General Store.
It was sensory overload for a child, a place so packed with stuff that it was magical. It was huge and had everything crammed into one building, one doorway or staircase leading to its next compartment. A hardware store that was also a grocery store that was also a clothing store that was also a toy store. Belts, boots and books, moccasins, hats, comic books and postcards. To a kid, it felt like anything anyone could ever want to buy, anything in the world, was right there, housed in a magic store in downtown Dorset.
The big attraction for a kid was the room, seemingly endless, stuffed with shelf after shelf of toys, souvenirs and knickknacks of all sorts. A trip to Robinson’s meant my sister and I could each pick one toy or one thing to take with us, and we’d carefully peruse those shelves looking for that one thing. One summer it was an alligator puppet, I remember that. Another it was a small jug with a cork, the front of the jug reading, “Fresh air from Dorset, Ontario.” I thought that was hilarious. It still sits on a shelf in what was my bedroom at my parents’ house.
Situated on the narrows that pass through the heart of the hamlet, you can take your boat to Robinson’s, a convenience and novelty that is cottage-country iconic. Iconic can be an overused term, but Robinson’s truly is, owned and operated by the same family for a full century, to boot.
Thanks to Brad and the whole Robinson family for your stewardship of a business that is the very centre of its community, physically and metaphorically, and for a million memories you’ve created for visitors.
Welcome and all the best to the Hinbest family, as they take over a business that is not just a business, but a beloved tradition for many.