This mural is located on the Feed Shed across from the Clayton General Store (painted and donated by Laurel Cook).
John (Johnnie) L Erskine and his wife Essie, owned and operated the Clayton General Store from 1932 – 1946. His parents, John A and Marion Erskine had owned and operated the store for 1906 – 1932 during corawhich time they had done considerable work on the building including bricking the exterior in 1916.
Johnnie quit school when he was fourteen and waggoned for his father until he married his wife Esther Rath in 1918. He got a farm on Conc 2 which he worked for three years until he purchased a farm on Conc12 which he worked for 11 years. When his father passed away and Johnnie moved back to Clayton to take over the store, the Depression was well underway. Realising that everyone in the country had a wood lot, and wood was required in Almonte and the village, he started a wood business.
Farmers would hire men to cut cordwood and pile it where it could be reached by a truck. The farmer would give the men a slip of paper stating the amount of wood they had cut. They would take the slip to Johnnie who would pay them for the wood. The farmer would receive $2 for each cord and they in turn would pay the men $1 for each cord that had been cut. For hardwood, Johnnie would pay $3 a cord of which the men would receive $2 a cord for cutting. In 1932, Johnnie, in turn, sold the wood to the town and the people town of the for $6.50 a cord for hardwood which rose to $8.50 a cord by 1939. There were others in the Clayton area who sold firewood, but Johnnie pretty well had the market sewn up.
Johnnie Erskine sold the store in 1946 when he went to Almonte and bought Almonte Cold Storage and subsequently the IGA. However, he left a lasting impression on the Clayton community.
The mural depicts Johnnie Erskine in his later years “looking back” at the store that he owned and operated for 14 years.