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A Day in the Philanthropic Life: Janice O’Born, Chairman of The Printing House Charitable Office saves Rosemont General Store

A sense of philanthropy led Janice O’Born, Chairman of The Printing House Charitable Office, to restore a beloved community hub.

By: Stephanie Maris | Photography by Kourosh Keshiri

Since 1846 the Rosemont General Store has been a fixture in the small Ontario town of Rosemont, just north of Orangeville on highway 89. In May 2012, with the risk of bankruptcy threatening its future, Janice O’Born, and her husband, Earle O’Born, The Printing House (TPH) Chairman and CEO, purchased the Rosemont to help restore its status as the hub of the village community. Today, O’Born divides her time between her exciting new venture up north and her busy city life, where she has dedicated the past 26 years to supporting charities in the communities where TPH conducts its business, including SickKids, Canadian Centre for Diversity, CanFAR, True Patriot Love and Duke of Edinburgh.

“I think it is so exciting and I love it, I just love it,” O’born exclaims. “I connect, I talk, I find out about our customers’ lives. It’s warm; people embrace the change.” her dedication to philanthropy and community support is as present in rural Ontario as it is in Toronto. O’born strives to encourage local employment at the store, and is keen to support local artists by stocking their products and highlighting their unique talents.

Philanthropy means caring for each other. That’s it. If you do that, the rest falls in place.

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Every detail, from painting the exterior of the store to hiring Mennonite workers to fix the roof, is the result of a thoughtful series of decisions. The paint was chosen to match the colours that the community buildings would have been in the 1840s, and the wooden floors and countertops all add to the store’s rustic Canadian feel. Even the Rosemont General Store sign is a handcrafted tribute to the community: it’s painted in gold leaf and made with hand-carved local wood.

The Rosemont sells an assortment of unique Canadian products ranging from organic hand soaps from a family-owned business in Quebec to milk, eggnog and yoghurt from Sheldon Creek Dairy, a small family farm with 50 cows that are each called by name. The store is also known for its baked goods and treats, especially its pies that are famously made from the Rosemont recipe, handed down through generations.

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With a clientele ranging from locals, weekenders and truck drivers, feedback from the Rosemont community has been overwhelmingly positive. “They are appreciative that the store has remained open,” says O’Born. “We have their mailboxes, newspapers, milk, butter and a smile — we serve everybody in the way that we remember being served.” In a year’s time, her goal is to turn the Rosemont into “a destination store, as opposed to a drive-by store” with an in-house coffee and pizza shop. “We’ve become the community hub again, and we will only get better.”