A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE: LOOKING BACK AT THOSE LITTLE KNOWN BUSINESSES
FROM 1937

\By Farley Wuth, Curator,
Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
Copyright, Pincher Creek & District Historical Society

For Pincher Creek, the year 1937 marked the seventh straight year of the Great Depression of the 1930s. One of the economic themes to dominate the inter-war era, these troubled times were marked by a significant slow-down in business activities, coupled with a long term drought impacting the area’s ranching and farming industry. Yet, in spite of the poor growth Pincher Creek remained the commercial centre for local agriculture. A few new businesses indeed blossomed during the 1930s.

RURAL BUTCHER SHOP THRIVED DURING TOUGH TIMES
One half-forgotten Pincher Creek commercial outlet was that of Conrad’s Meat Market. This local business won much community support for offering prompt free delivery. Folklore indicates that its phone (its phone number was 74) virtually was rung off the hook requesting the service. So pleased with the response was Conrad’s that it placed a prominent display advertisement in the September 23rd 1937 issue of the Echo thanking locals for their ongoing business support.

An autumn sale that year brought in more business for Conrad’s. A “choice beef sale” offered three prices depending on its grade: eight cents per pound of cuts suitable for boiling, ten cents per pound for pot roasts, and only twelve and one-half cents per pound for oven roasts and steaks. The choices were meant to have mass appeal amongst a public eager for good quality at very reasonable prices. It also advertized shipments of fresh fish every Friday morning. Some of its samples featured halibut, which sold for 22 cents per pound, cohoe salmon retailing for a quarter per pound, and ling cod, a bargain at only twenty cents a pound.

By November 1937, Conrad’s Meat Market was gearing up for the Christmas Season. Fresh hamburger advertized for twenty-five cents per four pounds, was aimed at those consumers wishing to be economical during the festive season. Turkey farmers were advised to prepare their birds for market by December 10th and to come into the store for optimum prices. Some staff changes at the end of the calendar year, however, compelled the business to advertise for “a first class butcher to take full responsibility of our up-to-date Meat Market” by early January.

LUMBER AND AGRICULTURAL BUSINESSES HAD CLOSE COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
A second booming business of 1937 was the Pincher Creek yard of the Sartoris Lumber Co. It offered “reasonable prices” and area delivery of large orders. Its phone number was 39. Featured in its inventory was “all kinds of building supplies” including lumber and shingles as well as lime and cement. It also promoted its adept shop work. This community minded business participated in the 1937 Kinsman Campaign where the children went door to door to sell apples. The company first opened its local yard, located at the east end of Pincher Creek, that August during much marketing fanfare. Display ads in the Echo were regular features for several weeks.

The Pincher Creek Sales Agency also was a commercial icon of that era. Much of its success was its direct connection with local agriculture. Two of its high end retail sales items were Maple Leaf Milling Co. flour and feed and Anderson’s Poultry Feed, apparently which had won an industry gold medal. Both brands were advertized as being the “best obtainable for all kinds of fowl”. Farmers also could bring in their broilers and other fowl which were shipped to the slaughter houses. Locals were encouraged to bring in their eggs for purchase at the highest market prices in accordance with their grading.

Long time residents of the Pincher Creek area also will remember that the summer of 1937 was a time of change for Jim’s Coffee Shop. The ever popular eatery and visiting place moved effective Friday, July 30th to the old Palm Café location, situated on the north side of Main Street, west of the City Café. The Coffee Shop had served its patrons well in its old locale but the new sport was larger and was chosen with the hope of increasing its trade. The Palm Café had been associated with a Mr. Collins. In the early 1930s, it was run by Mr. Williams whose daughter Kay, a red-headed, freckled girl, completed high school in Pincher Creek in 1938-39. Early in the decade the Café was a much appreciated yet infrequent eatery, specializing in ice cream cones and sodas, patronized by the Summerview based Glass family.

Further west yet, on the site later occupied by the Oasis Restaurant, was the Maple Leaf Bakery. It was operated by the Ungaro and Farano Families during the 1930s and 1940s. Charlie Monte, who was an avid fisherman, was the baker.

These were but a few of the lesser known Pincher Creek businesses from 1937. Like the older local places of commerce, they adapted to the tough times of the 1930s by connecting with the community. This helped ensure their survival.

Sources: Adapted from the 1937 back issues of The Pincher Creek Echo and the recollections of Donald Glass, Calgary, autumn 2010.

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