Monday, May 31, 2010

Working With Collections: Part III

"The Reindeer Brand" Local Plants

In December 1915 the Borden Milk Company acquired the B.C. Milk Condensing Company located at South Sumas. Three large Borden plants already existed in eastern Canada including one in Truro, Nova Scotia. The Borden Company invested $75,000 to enlarge and improve the former B.C. Milk Condensing Company plant, and obtained their milk supply from the Fraser Valley Milk Producers’ Association. By 1926 Borden’s South Sumas plant was producing 60,000 pounds of milk per day and from 1937 to 1947 they averaged 90,000 cases of evaporated milk over a nine to ten month season. Their well-known condensed milk products included “Reindeer”, “Eagle” and “St. Charles” brands. Due to insufficient milk supplies, as the F.V.M.P.A. was having difficulty meeting its own milk requirements, Borden’s decided to close their operation in 1947. The plant was acquired later in the year by Canada Packers Ltd. and converted into a fruit and vegetable cannery.

I wonder if anyone has seen wooden boxes for either the Eagle or St. Charles brands? Borden’s St. Charles brand is probably derived from another milk condensing company called the St. Charles Company.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Working with Collections: Part II

"The Reindeer Brand" Trail of Discovery

Our “Reindeer Brand” quest actually started with us becoming interested in some photographs of the B.C. Milk Condensing Company held in our archives. A search through the directories for Chilliwack provided us with some dates to start with and set us on our path through the Chilliwack Progress newspaper. The articles we found linked the B.C. Milk Condensing Company to the Borden Milk Company and we also discovered that the Borden Company manufactured “Reindeer Brand Condensed Milk”. It was at this point that the wooden box in our collection was remembered and knowing that the Borden Company had a plant in Truro, Nova Scotia it seemed that the two were linked.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Working with Collections

"The Reindeer Brand"

Many museums and archives are filled with artifacts, documents and photographs that await discovery. By working with collections and attempting to document their place in the history of Chilliwack we have been pleasantly surprised with some of our discoveries. One such item was a wooden box for Reindeer Brand Condensed Milk. We knew nothing about the box other than it was found locally. What was its connection to Chilliwack especially when the box itself is marked “Reindeer Brand Condensed Milk., Truro Condensed Milk Company Ltd., Truro, Nova Scotia”? This is the first in a series of blogs dedicated to the trail we followed for the Reindeer brand.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Early Chilliwack Druggists: Part Five

C.H. Cowen Drug Company: "Palace Drug Store of the West!"

In April 1909, Charles Henry Cowen, a pharmacist from Vancouver, B.C., opened his first drug store in the Knight Block located at the southwest corner of Main and Wellington. Cowen's Drug Store provided the usual prescriptions as well as confectionery, perfumes, stationery, school supplies, chocolates and sundries.

Like other area druggists Charles Cowen advertised regularly and marketed his products for special holidays and celebrations such as Easter, Christmas and Dominion Day. In Cowen's first newspaper advertisement, he makes specific mention of his perfumes available for Easter: "Some of the odors are: Crushed Roses, Blue Lilies, Orchids, La France Rose, Safranor, Azurea, Crown, Crabapple Blossoms." (Chilliwack Progress, April 7, 1909, page 8).

Cowen also promoted the store's soda fountain. In June 1909, his ad for Dominion Day mentions his ice cream and soda fountain, "We have no doubt but nearly every one in the district has heard of Cowen's Ice Cream Sodas. They are simply delicious. Think of it, the richest ice cream, served with luscious fruits and fruit juices. This will be your opportunity to drink Soda Water in one of the Palace Drug Stores of the West." (Chilliwack Progress, June 23, 1909, page 8).

In November 1912 Cowen relocated his business to Five Corners opening in the new, but not completed, Irwin Block. Cowen remained at this location for many years but relocated to Sardis prior to 1937. His new drugstore was located at the corner of Knight and Vedder and it was at this location that Charles Cowen passed away May 7, 1938.

The Chilliwack Museum collection includes a container with a Cowen’s Drug Store label, a Cowen's Alum box and a labeled prescription bottle. Cowen was also the first Rexall affiliated drugstore in Chilliwack and there must be a myriad of Cowen/Rexall related items in existence.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Early Chilliwack Druggists: Part Four

Barber Drug Company Limited

Harry James Barber started the Barber Drug Company in January 1906. The firm’s newspaper advertisements often featured non-medical goods in their ads such as stationery, fountain pens, inks, books, souvenir chinaware, toys, cameras, film, as well as other goods.

Within the medical department Barber produced a number of his own remedies including Barber brand cough syrup, dental cream, corn cure, mosquito lotion, and “White Pine and Tar Mentholated” for coughs and colds.

Barber also brought in a wide range of Nyal products such as Blood Purifier, Liver Salts, and Hypophosphites with Wild Cherry and Creosote. At times the Barber Drug Co. advertised itself as a Nyal Drug Store and in one major ad produced in October 1924 more than 50 Nyal and Nylotis products are listed. This brand of products was featured in a Barber Drug Store calendar produced in 1919. Unfortunately the Chilliwack Museum and Archives does not have one in its collection.

In October 1926 Barber sold his interest in the business to Mr. J.H. Robinson who had managed Barber’s business for some time. Robinson continued to use the Barber name however; in September 1929 Robinson changed the name to Robinson’s Drug Store although he continued to carry the Barber name in his advertising.

The museum has a clear glass medicine bottle embossed with the name of H.J. Barber, Chilliwack, B.C. in its collection. It is not known if the bottle came in any other sizes. The Museum also has a few Barber Drug Store labels as well as Barber’s mortar and pestle which may have been used in the earlier Barber and Henderson Drug Store.

Mr. Barber, apart from his steady drugstore business, was a busy man. He was the President of the Chilliwack Board of Trade from 1910 through 1912, Mayor of Chilliwack from 1914 – 1916 and was elected to the House of Commons as a Conservative in 1925. He was re-elected in 1926, 1930 and 1935 and remained in office until 1940.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Early Chilliwack Druggists: Part Three

Barber and Henderson

In May 1902 the Chilliwack branch of the Nelson Drug and Book Store was acquired by Mr. H.J. Barber and Dr. J.C. Henderson.

Harry James Barber was educated at the Ontario School of Pharmacy in Toronto, Ontario. Upon graduation he moved to Selkirk, Manitoba where he worked as a druggist for one year. Barber then moved to Chilliwack and added to his valuable work experience by working for the Nelson Drug Store.

Barber’s business partner was Dr. John Cotter Henderson who received his medical degree from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Henderson came to Chilliwack in 1886 and for many years was the medical health officer for the municipality.

The Barber and Henderson firm continued to sell many of the same items as its predecessor. They also operated their own lending library, sold stationery, seeds and gift items. Often their newspaper advertisements featured specific name brand remedies, tonics and medicines. Soon such brands as Celery and Burdock, White Embrocation, Sovereign Sarsaparilla, Best West India Lime Juice and Laxative Fruit Syrup appear, ranging in price between 25 cents to $1.00 per bottle.

The Barber and Henderson firm produced its own clear glass, embossed medicine bottle of which the Chilliwack Museum has one example. It would be intersting to learn if the Barber and Henderson bottle was produced in a variety of sizes.

In January 1906 the partnership of Barber & Henderson was dissolved and H.J. Barber became the sole proprietor.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Early Chilliwack Druggists: Part Two

The Nelson Drug and Book Store

After the Jessup fire in December 1894 two druggists moved into the area. John S. Glover, a prescription druggist and dental surgeon, leased space in Chilliwack for his store called “The Pharmacy”. Although a few advertisements were placed in the local newspaper it does not appear that Glover actually opened his business venture. No other details are currently known.

An experienced Vancouver druggist, Charles Nelson, opened a store in Chilliwack similar to his City Drug Store within a week of Glover’s entereprise. The Chilliwack business, known as "Nelson's Drug Store," was first located opposite the Chilliwack Progress newspaper building on Yale Road East and later relocated to the Masonic Block at the corner of Wellington and Young. Like Jessup he sold many of the same patent medicines offering Dr. Agnew's Catarrh Powder, Dr. Agnew's Cure for the Heart, the Great South American Kidney Cure and the South American Rheumatic Cure.

By September 1895 the business was renamed the Nelson Drug and Book Store as it better represented the store’s many products. Over time Nelson’s developed several new markets and published a seed catalogue and provided area farmers and fruit growers with sprays, washes and insecticides. Nelson also brought in recreational gear and by 1896 was selling fishing tackle, baseball and cricket goods, croquet sets and hammocks.

In February 1897 "The Nelson Drug Store Company Limited" was formed and it was during the summer of 1897, that they introduced Nelson Lime Fruit Juice and Joy's Root Beer. In September 1898 Harry J. Barber was hired as manager and by May 1902 the Nelson Drug and Book Store was acquired by Mr. Barber and Dr. J.C. Henderson.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Early Chilliwack Druggists: Part One

Grant Jessup

In July 1890 druggist Grant Jessup established his business on Wellington Avenue located in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall. Jessup maintained a stock of commercial medicines and compunded prescriptions. Amongst his stock of patent medicines were the "Great South Kidney Cure" a relief used to treat kidney and bladder diseases and "Agnew's Cure for the Heart". He also carried a stock of "the choicest wines and liquors, for medicinal and sacramental purposes" (Chilliwack Progress, August 4, 1892, page 4)

In December 1894 a fire destroyed Jessup's business and all of his stock and furnishings were lost. Jessup soon relocated to Vancouver Island working for a local Nanaimo druggist. However, by October 1904 he was re-established in Ladysmith as proprietor of the Ladysmith Pharmacy.

His surname has also been seen as Jessop. A search of the BC Archives Vital Events database reveals that Richard Grant Jessop died at Ladysmith April 26, 1924. He was 52 years of age.