Pause Awhile, Part 2

Post office to tea room, The History of 31 Main Street South

Throughout most of its commercial history, the building at 31 Main Street South has been known as the Old Waterdown Post Office. When the postal service was established in the village in 1841, there is no record of a specific building or distribution point but it is believed to have been located during the early years in the Griffin General Store at the southeast corner of Dundas and Mill Street South (the former Weeks Block).

Following the death of Ebenezer Culver Griffin in 1847, his executors sold three quarters of an acre on the corner of Main and Griffin streets to Waterdown lumber merchant Matthew Burns.

He almost certainly erected the building, as the price of $600 at the time of his sale to James B. Thompson a decade later seems an appropriate price for a smaller piece of property and a two-storey frame structure.

Retail outlet

By the early 1860s, James Thompson is listed as the village postmaster and telegraph operator, a position he held for more than 40 years. The building, apart from being a post office remained an important retail outlet too. In the local directory listings of the 1870s, 80s and 90s, Mr. Thompson is recorded as both postmaster and grocer or merchant – the left-hand side of the ground floor served as the post and telegraph office, while the right side was the store and later business office.

With his death in 1908, the property passed to his younger brother Hugh, a saddler and harness and trunk maker. Between 1911 and 1912 when construction of the C.P.R. line began in Waterdown, Hugh rented the rooms on the upper floor to the surveyors and construction supervisors.

Small businesses

The family finally sold the property in 1946, but during the intervening years the building housed a succession of small businesses, such as ‘Weaver’s Dry Goods Store’ during the 1920s.

The multitude of uses allowed the building to slowly deteriorate until it was saved from almost certain demolition during the 1970s and revived as the well known tea room, Pause Awhile, under the ownership of the Robertson family for the next 30 years.

Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at

This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 7 April 2011.


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