A local gas station – one of only three places to get gas in Winchester – will soon change hands. Ben Henry has been running the Pioneer gas station on County Road 31 for many years. A few years ago, the whole station was revamped, and remains a popular place to refuel and buy snacks and other essentials in town. On November 20, Ben announced online that he would be terminating his lease and moving on to the next chapter of his life. Congratulatory notes poured in, as locals noted what a positive impact Ben and his business have made on the community over the years.
One person commented that despite a change in ownership, the gas station will likely continue to be known as “Ben’s Pioneer” (or simply “Ben’s”) for many years to come. It is true that small businesses – especially those that provide critical goods and services such as fuel – become absolute pillars of the community, such that they are often unofficially named after their owners despite the owners’ names rarely appearing on the signage. It is also true that long standing business owners leave a lasting legacy when they move on or retire, as their name is often attached to their businesses indefinitely.
This fact is easy to see in the frequency with which Winchester locals still ask whether “Ron’s” is open, referring to the full service gas station in the south end of town which was recently sold by long serving owner, Ron Blanchard. Another example is “Rick’s Gas Bar” in South Mountain. The Pioneer gas station in South Mountain was owned for years by the late Rick Cauvier, and despite now being in new and very capable hands, locals still call it “Rick’s”. I myself will call out to the others in the house with a familiar “Does anyone need anything at Ricks?!” before heading there. It’s a habit, and not at all a bad one. Small towns deserve to be proud of these quirks, particularly insofar as they honour the people who have made them great.
In Rick Cauvier’s case, he recently received an even greater legacy when the playpark in South Mountain was named the “Rick Cauvier Memorial Park” in his honour. In Winchester, Ben’s Pioneer will no longer be Ben’s in terms of ownership, but in all likelihood it will remain Ben’s in terms of namesake. Ah, the beauty of small town traditions.