A fresh start for a local icon 

Leah Curley 

It’s not the F.G. Edwards of yesterday, it’s the F.G. Edwards of yesteryear. The new owners, brother and sister Charles and Andrea Benjamin, are young and full of fresh ideas, but they have a huge respect for tradition and the heritage embodied by this iconic general store. There is indeed work to be done, but according to Charles, an architect specialized in historical conservation, it will be more about renewal than about change. “I came here with my father as a child,” he recalls. “It has stayed with me ever since.” 

While not from the Eastern Townships, the Benjamins were born and bred next door in St-Césaire, where their grandfather and father built a modern feed mill on their dairy farm, some 45 years ago. While Charles was studying architecture, Andrea honed her business skills as Director of Operations at la Meunerie Benjamin. Not surprisingly, the family mill will be the primary supplier of animal feed and supplements for the new F.G. Edwards. 

Edwards has long been a Purina dealer, which has limited what brands the store could offer and where it could deliver (Purina won’t share territories). Switching to la Meunerie Benjamin will lift these restrictions, allowing Edwards to sell a broader choice of brands and offer delivery and technical support to farmers in a greatly expanded territory. “Edwards will be more competitive than ever before,” Charles says.
“Benjamin feed is higher in quality and lower in price. We can customize it. And it’s local. So local, an order is often delivered the same day it’s milled. Sometimes it’s still warm when it arrives.” 

Honest quality and fair prices never go out of style. That appears to be the Benjamin philosophy, whether the product is animal feed and supplements or a new pair of wellies. “I think pricing-wise it’s really important to be fair on people. We need to remain accessible for everyone.” And they need to have everything, for everyone. 

Long-time customers will appreciate the return of many items. “Bulk is a big one,” said Charles. “And a better range of feed – of pretty much everything really. We’ll bring back garden tools, household items, and a few emergency groceries. We’ll have poultry, of course, but rabbits will be back, and other animals.” He talks about sourcing locally and ensuring seasonality, like summer Saturdays with fresh cut flowers in the front of the store and a small vegetable market out back. He mentions books and in-store classes on gardening, farming and homesteading, and putting the bulletin board back up for community notices. Fresh local bread and pastries will be on offer Saturday mornings. And, of course, there will be a coffee machine. 

The Benjamins purchased F.G. Edwards on February 1st of this year. They have a lot to do. But the vision is clear. And, fortunately, they’re supported by a knowledgeable and experienced staff, most of whom have been at Edwards for years and even decades. Come say hello to familiar faces and get acquainted with the new. Get Charles and Andrea talking. You’ll hear about a place that does more than sell agricultural and household goods. It’s a resource and social hub. A welcoming place that fosters community. A place emblematic of a way of life. An authentic country general store.