Making a Living in Oakville Then & Now (1900s)
Then: In earlier times, each trade was a one-man or family operation, which was located and operated locally.
D.J. (Jim) Sullivan, the local Electrician, worked out of his home at 323 Lakeshore Rd. E. Fred Morrison ran his plumbing business out of a small shed behind his house at 65 Navy St. George W. Barrett & Son operated from their shop at 268 Randall St. The "Son" was Harry Barrett, Oakville's mayor from 1973 to 1985. Their accountant was Frank "Red" Wilson, who is past the 100 year mark today and who always kept a bottle of Crown Royal Whiskey in the bottom drawer of his desk for his favourite customers when they dropped in to pay their bills.
Now: Plumbing, heating, air conditioning, roofing, eaves-trough and electrical are now carried out mainly by large firms with branches in smaller communities.
Then: The Halton Hardware at 171 Lakeshore Rd. E. is now occupied by The House of Flowers. This hardware store was owned and operated by Larry Wilson (brother of Doug Wilson, Oakville's Fire Chief) and Al Cook. Larry was a volunteer fireman and as his store was only a block from the main Fire Hall, he was often the first to drive out the big pumper.
Kress Hardware was located at 215 Lakeshore Rd. E. This was later purchased by Spencer Fraser and improved under his guidance and his two helpful employees, Art Campbell and Abe Hawley.
Oakville Hardware was located at 234 Lakeshore Rd. E. where the present pub, "The Bearded Collie" is situated. This hardware was owned by WW. King, of King Paving, but was operated by Vince Dunstan, who was a local Scout master.
Now: Apart from Home Hardware, most hardware stock is now carried by Lansing Buildall, Cashway, Aikenheads, etc.
William Davis (1993)
MacDonald's Blacksmith Shop. Courtesy of the Oakville Historical Society Details
STORES & SHOPPING
Then: Prior to the coming of the malls and development of the Kerr. St. shopping area, shopping was centered along Lakeshore Rd. E., then called Colborne St. In these earlier times, stores tended to specialize.
Buckle's Meat Market or Butcher Shop was located on the northwest corner of Dunn and Lakeshore. The floor was freshly sprinkled with sawdust each morning. Whole carcasses of beef, sheep, etc. hung on hooks in a large walk-in "cold room". Mr. Buckle always wrapped the meat in far too much brown paper and then tied it with yards of cord before weighing it. One elderly customer, who shall remain nameless, objected to paying for all of the paper and cord at meat prices, and so used to bring in her own lidded pail and told Mr. Buckle just to put her purchase in it and not to bother wrapping it! Mr. Buckle's daughter, Mary, who used to work in the store, married a local teamster, Lachlan McArthur, who later became Oakville's Mayor in 1954.
Turner's Butcher Shop was located at 209 Lakeshore Rd. E and was owned and operated by Jim Turner, ably assisted by his two nieces. They all started out the day dressed in snow white, long linen coats. These became quite bloodied as the day went on!
Palumbo's Fruit & Vegetables Store at 182 Lakeshore Rd. E. was owned and operated by Mathew Gentile "Mat" Palumbo and his wife. They lived in a very nice apartment over the store. One of the lady customers had a habit of squeezing the peaches, plums, etc. One day, Mrs. Palumbo said to this customer, "If you must squeeza da fruit, squeeza da cocoinut."
Bill Hill's General Store (not to be confused with the present Bill Hill on Bronte Rd.) was located at the northwest corner of Lakeshore and Trafalgar Rd. It was here that I remember buying my first cigarettes - a yellow package of Millbanks, which we boys all called the "yellow perils"!
Hewson's General Store at 142 Lakeshore Rd. E. was owned and operated by James L. Hewson. He carried many "luxury" items in addition to the "usual" and was compared to a similar famous store in Toronto - Michies. Two of his better-known employees, were Phyllis Fixter, who worked in the store, and Bill McPherson, who drove the delivery truck. After Mr. Hewson died, the store continued to be operated by his son-in-law, James R. Black, who was married Isabel Hewson. Mr. Black served overseas in the Lorne Scots (1939-1945) as Major, and later became a Justice of the Peace, and Mayor of the town in 1949. Mr. Hewson was Mayor in 1940.
Now: Although Oakville still has its "Downtown", Kerr Street and Bronte shopping areas, the trend today is to shop at malls such as Oakville Place, Trafalgar Village and Hopedale Mall. Food City, Miracle Mart, Lablaws and A&P all carry complete lines of meats, fruit, vegetables, canned goods, bakery, etc.
Buckle’s Meat Market. Courtesy of the Oakville Historical Society Details
Then: At the turn of the century there was no hospital. There was later the Taylor Nursing Home with 4 beds, located at the NW corner of McDonald Rd and the 8th Line.
In the early 1940s the large dwelling at 72 First St. (the Armstrong Residence) was purchased by the Oakville Lions Club and the building remodeled as the "Temporary" Hospital, complete with elevator. "Cap" Sanderson was the head nurse and the cook was Isobel McPherson. Our first daughter, Sandra, was born here in 1947!
There were three principle doctors in the early 1900s. First there was Dr. John Stead, whose residence and office were at 299 Lakeshore Road E. Dr. Morley Wilkinson also had his office in his residence at 205 Trafalgar Rd. Dr. Charles Page too had his "surgery" in his house at 334 Lakeshore Road E. It was Dr. Page who brought me into this world at home (40 First Street) in 1913. He later sold his practice (and house) to Dr. E.P. "Soapie" Soanes, who was later to become Chief of Staff of the new modern hospital on Reynolds St. All the doctors made "house calls" in those days - a rarity today.
Dr. F.M. "Doc" Deans, one of the local dentists, had his office on the 2nd floor of 179 Lakeshore Road E. Dr. Lloyd Jacques had his office over the Bank of Toronto at the southeast corner of Lakeshore and Thomas Street. Dr. W.P. Jebb had his office in his house which then stood at the northeast corner of Lakeshore and Trafalgar Roads. Two of the earliest dentists were Dr. Lorne Anderson and Dr. J.C. Duff, both of whom had their office on the 2nd floor of the Davis Block at 189 Lakeshore Road. E.
Now: A modern Hospital with 333 beds; 6 operating rooms; Emergency and Therapy Service; 394 nurses (including Relief and part time); 291 doctors (including 168 active and 123 associate) - and the Hospital is still being enlarged and improved!!
Then: Compare with the old "family" drug stores where all the customers were personal friends and where the druggist often would prescribe a simple remedy instead of having to see the doctor.
There was Urquharts at 182 Lakeshore Road E., where pills and powders were handed over the counter wrapped in paper. John R. Byers, at 185 Lakeshore Road E. was also an ophthalmologist and a travel agent of all things, although limited to the sale of railway and bus tickets. This business was later purchased b David J. "Jack" Russell, son of Stanley Russell, the local funeral director in those days.
221 Lakeshore Road E. had its share of pharmacies. W.T. Wieland, followed by Frank Kyle, and then in the early 1920s, the Rexall Drug Store under the capable management of Len Hope. His assistant was Buff Ramsay, followed by Ted Isard. Len also had on the east side of his store one of the finest soda fountains and soda bars in town and where even a light lunch could be obtained.
John R. Dunn also had an excellent pharmacy at the northeast corner of Lakeshore Road and Dunn Street. He also had a great Soda fountain. One of his pharmacists was Gordon "Red" Slater, brother of "Holly" Macrae.
Now: Shoppers Drug Mart; IDA; Guardian; Pharma Plus, etc. and several independent druggists. Today, everybody carries a Health card and is just "a number". Very little personal interest.
The Armstrong Residence. Courtesy of the Oakville Historical Society Details
Then: Anderson's Bank was a private bank located about 126-134 Lakeshore Rd. E. It failed in 1902 and the Anderson's farm of 200 acres was taken over by the Bank of Hamilton and the "Brantwood" Survey was developed. In 1903 The Bank of Hamilton opened at 187 Lakeshore Rd. E. and the Manager was W.S. Davis. This bank was taken over by the Bank of Commerce about 1923.
The Bank of Toronto was located at the SE corner of Lakeshore and Thomas St. and is still there. The manager in 1912 was Mr J.B.I. Grout. The Merchant's Bank in 1912 was located at 159 Lakeshore Rd. E. and the manager at that time was young Mr. H.L. Read. A few years later the Bank of Montreal took over the Merchent's Bank and the building, and Mr. Read, continued as the Manager for many years. The stone crest over the front door of the building is that of the Merchant's Bank and is still there as a reminder of earlier times.
Now: Several branches of all the principal banks and trust companies are located throughout the town. All with the best of vaults and "Instant Tellers".
Dominion Day Parade. Courtesy, Town of Oakville Details
AUTO DEALERS & SERVICE STATIONS
Then: Hilmer's Livery at 145 Lakeshore Rd. E. was the first to sell and service the Ford Model T. From 1911, Robin & Bath operated the Oakville Garage, located at 265-267 Lakeshore Rd. E. and sold Fords and Reos. Their advertisement read: "Already there are almost 200,000 Ford cars in use. 2-passenger runabouts are $675. 5-passenger touring cars are $750, while 6-passenger Town-cars sell for $1,000.00" "The Reo is a handsome car, fully equipped with electric self-starter and self-lighter independent of the ignition system. Standard price for the 1913 Reo is $1750."
Wm. Whitaker & Sons also had a garage on the west side of Trafalgar Rd., just south of Church St. They originally made wagons and carriages but went into the auto field in the early 1920s.
Stirling & Dynes (Harold Stirling & Vernon Dynes) had the Ford Agency & Service Station from the early 1920s until the late 1950s and were located at the SW corner of Lakeshore Rd. and Navy St., where the Granary Condo is now located.
Now: With the increase in population and the popularity of the "horseless carriage," we now have Kennedy Ford, Kerr Cadillac, Chevy-Towne, Lockwood Chrysler, Meray Motors, etc. Also, many Service stations such as Esso, Shell and Petro Canada can be found throughout the area.
Wm. Whitaker & Sons Garage. Courtesy of the Oakville Historical Society Details
Then: The Brick Yard at the top of "Red Hill" just North of Oakville place. It was short-lived. Owned by Chas F. Doty (of Davis & Doty) and whose house on the NE corner of Spruce St. and Trafalgar Rd. was built of this brick. Lumber Yards & Planing Mills of Davis & Doty was on the NW corner of Trafalgar Rd. & Cross Ave., where Beaver Lumber now is. The foreman was Bob Fleetham; mill hands were Tony Bowman and Albert Shelley. The truck driver was Tom Paul. Also, the Blakelock Bros. were located on the south side of Randall St., between Reynolds St. and Trafalgar Rd. The "boss-man" there was Harry Parnaby.
The first site of the Oakville Basket Factory was located at about 356 Trafalgar Rd, but it burned to the ground and re-located on the NW corner of Trafalgar Rd and Old Mill Rd (now demolished). It manufactured quart and 6-quart baskets for fruit. Later the basket factory turned to the manufacture of tongue-depressors and Popsicle sticks!! It was owned and operated by J.M. Wallace and assisted by his brother-in-law, Gordon E. Perdue (Perdue High School) - Mr. Wallace's son, Jack, operated their veneer plant at Wilberforce.
Dr. Chase Medicine was a manufacturer of patent medicines and pills. It was owned and operated by William Stone (father of Bill and Ted Stone) and later by Bill Edwards. It was located on the north side of Lakeshore Rd. W., opposite Brookfield Rd. This location was formerly occupied by Kennedy Ford.
Kendall's Tannery was at the SW corner of Lakeshore Rd. and Navy St., but burned down in the early 20s and relocated to the North side of Cross Ave. The treasurer was Max Leggatt, son of one of Oakville's earlier harness makers. It manufactured mainly patent leathers. The first and oldest tannery was Marlatt & Armstrong tannery, located on the west side of the harbour and south of Burnet St. The owners were C.G. Marlatt and Christie Armstrong. Marlatt lived at 45 Dunn St., and the property included most of that block. Armstrong lived at 72 First St. - the site of Oakville's first "temporary" hospital. C.G. was the owner of the famous yacht, "Aggie" which was well-known in yachting circles. He was also a Commodore of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Toronto, and Oakville's Mayor in 1895. Mr. Armstrong was a long-time Warden of St. Jude's Church and in whose memory the lovely stained-glass window of Queen Victoria was donated.
C.G. Marlatt was huge of stature and to get to his office in the tannery, he would walk to the east side of the river where he would be met by one of his employees in a rowboat, who would then row him across the river to the westerly dock. From there, he would walk up the hill to his office. One day the usual boatman was on holiday, so G.C. was met by a substitute who had been warned to sit as far forward in the bow as possible so as to compensate for C.G.'s bulk in the stern seat. Everything went well until, on reaching the west pier, the oarsman jumped out to tie up the boat, with the result that the boat flipped and C.G. was dumped into the river!!
Oakville Bottling Works was located on the NW corner of Kerr St. and Lakeshore Rd. It was owned and operated by Ches. Hinton, and specialized in Ginger Ale, Orange and Sarsparilla.
Glassco Jam Factory was located just west of the Basket Factory and south of the railway (north side of Old Mill Rd.). It was owned and operated by "Bonnie" Glassco who lived in the large home at the NE corner of Lakeshore Rd. and Morrison Rd. The factory was later managed by his son-in-law, Alex Tilley, who was married to Eleanor Glassco.
Jacobs Jam Factory was located on the north side of Rebecca St., opposite Thomas St., and where the Boy Scout Hut is presently located. George Jacobs was Mayor of the town from 1933-1939.
Now: Tremendous Ford Plant; Mack Truck; General Electric and many, many smaller industries along Speers Rd. and Wyecroft Rd. Many builders supply stores such as Lansing, Beaver, Cashway, Aikenheads, etc.
The Oakville Basket Factory. Courtesy of the Oakville Historical Society Details