If you’re into bicycling and/or skiing, chances are you know Duke of Windsor Sport Shop at 655 Queen Street East.
The locally owned and operated shop has been around for years, but its roots are more historic than you may think.
Its roots are truly royal, in a sense.
“Originally, years and years ago, the family was in the billiard business. My grandfather, Eli Theriault, had Eli’s on Gore Street, and then they had the Duke of Windsor Billiard Academy just down the street (on Queen). They did pool in the winter, and outfitting, like canoe rentals, fishing, hunting and guns in the summer,” said Chris Theriault, Duke of Windsor Sport Shop owner/operator.
In May 1937, the original business owners, in a respectful gesture, sought approval from none other than the Duke of Windsor himself to associate his title with the Billiard Academy.
The Duke had reigned briefly as Edward VIII, King of England and official head of state of many other countries, including Canada, from Jan. 1936 to Dec. 1936, before abdicating to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
He was replaced by King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Sault men received a letter, dated June 15, 1937, from Schloss Wasserleonburg, in Kärnten, Austria, signed by an equerry (servant) to the Duke, to ‘Messrs. Mahoney & Scott, 551 Queen Street East, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada,’ stating the Duke did not object to the men using his title in connection with the Billiard Academy.
Schloss Wasserleonburg is a castle at which the Duke and his wife were vacationing at the time.
SooToday chose the Queen Street shop to be the subject of this week’s Mid-Week Mugging, chatting with Theriault and Mark Pettalia, sales and service technician, leaving them with a pair of snazzy SooToday coffee mugs.
“We sell bicycles in the summer, along with repairs and service, and in the winter we’re a big ski shop, selling downhill and cross country ski equipment, all the tuning, mounting of bindings, and accessories,” Theriault said.
Theriault’s grandfather, father and uncle ran the business over the years, the Duke of Windsor moving to its current location at 655 Queen Street East in the 1950s.
“In the 1950s it was everything, all sports, fishing and hunting in a big way, hockey…the bikes and skis came when I took it over on my own 26 years ago. We started specializing,” Theriault said.
The Duke has a mix of five full time and part time employees.
“It’s something I really wanted to do. It was in my family and I love skiing and biking, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really good staff and learn from really good people over the years. We’ve had some really loyal customers,” Theriault said.
For the summer, the Duke of Windsor is currently open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday (closed Sunday and Monday) and can be reached by phone at (705) 942-1610, as well as Facebook.