End of an era

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The now-closed Winchester Service Station, currently on the market for sale. 

A beloved local gas station owner in Winchester is retiring after serving the community for decades. Ron Blanchard has owned the Winchester Service Centre at the intersection of County Roads 38 and 31 for 25 years. He has seen the Winchester community grow and change, and has served many loyal customers in his time owning the station. With Ron now retired, the gas station is up for sale, ready for a new owner and a new era.

I thought, I’ve pumped enough gas in 25 years,” Ron joked. “I had enough. I’m 64 and own a hobby farm, but I really can’t enjoy my hobby farm. It’s a go-go-go when I’m here, and then when we get to the house, it’s go-go on Saturday and Sunday!”

Ron’s late wife passed away in 2008, and his girlfriend of almost 11 years, Bonnie Holliday, has helped him run the station in these last years. Being in business in a small community for such a long time had its perks. There was never a shortage of opportunities to catch up with locals on the happenings in the area, and with the gas station being such a big part of the community, it was a great hub for conversation. “In the 25 years I was there, I had a good time,” said Ron.

Not surprisingly, many of Ron’s customers were not happy about his decision to retire. “I have a lot of sad customers,” he said. “We are sad that we are leaving good customers. Some were upset, but as they were coming back toward the end, they were congratulating me for retiring. They all said ‘you deserve it’, they understand.” Ron came to realize that at some point in life, it is important to put yourself and your needs first, and retiring was a decision that made the most sense for him.

The gas station opened for its final day with Ron as the owner on August 6. In the final days, customers were met with a nice surprise – the remaining fuel in the tanks was sold at $157.7 per litre for gasoline, and $169.8 per litre for diesel, which was much lower than other area stations at the time. Cars were lined up on these final days, likely for a mix of bargain fuel, and one last chance to shoot the breeze at the station with their old friend Ron.

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