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

During the First World War period, the ranching settlement of Pincher Creek was known for its well-established, thriving business district. For nearly forty years these local places of commerce had catered to the area’s ranching and farming industries as well as to the ever-increasing residential population within the settlement itself. Indeed, by the Dominion of Canada Census of 1911 Pincher Creek’s population had reached 1200 people. Many businesses already had long histories, but by 1917, the last full year of the War, there were several outlets, now half forgotten, that offered truly western services to the community.

A favourite store was the Pincher Creek branch of the P. Burns and Co. Ltd., one in a series of corporate retail outlets operating across Western Canada. Founder Pat Burns (1856 – 1937), also one of the original promoters of the Calgary Stampede, established the meat packing company in 1890 and was well known across the country as a cattle dealer. His Pincher Creek store, a well-patronized butcher shop, dated back to the early 1900s and was located on the main floor of the old Scott Block, situated on the south side of Main Street. Interior photos show a long, narrow store with a long counter. Various cuts of meat were hanging in the back. Company tin goods, coloured red and white, sported a distinctive red Stetson for decoration. Early store employees included Dick Harris, Hugh Lancaster and Mr. Orchard. By mid-1917, advertized weekly promotions included “Friday And Saturday Special Dominion Brand Smoked Boneless Shoulders” which retailed at only 33 cents a pound. Each Monday and Thursday the store received shipments from the coast of fresh codfish, halibut and salmon.

Newly opened in 1917 was J. Vander Pant Photo Studio whose advertisements “guaranteed satisfaction”. Pant was new to town and certainly was not as well known as his professional photographer predecessors of Steele and Company which was based out of Winnipeg and Hector J. Perrier who had a shop here from 1907 to 1916, nor was he as well remembered as Gordon Crighton who had a series of successful studios here during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. However, Pant staked his reputation on a large selection of prints that he had done elsewhere. His studios too were located in the Scott Block and he took photo appointments for Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

A new Pincher Creek venture in June 1917 was the J. Ibey and Company which set up shop in the block owned by the Oddfellow’s Lodge. The retail space, opposite the old Timothee Lebel Store, had previously been occupied by the Providers. Promotional literature correctly asserted that this was a variety store with a wide selection of stock and goods, much like a thriving general store. It sold everything from an extensive line of women’s clothing and “fishing tackle of all kinds a specialty”. The business had established its origins in Cardston many years earlier and by the First World War had a significant trade there. It was looking to expand its markets with its move to Pincher Creek. Its slogans were “we have come to stay” and “our prices talk”.

The Pincher Creek Creamery, owned and operated by H. MacIntosh, was another Pincher Creek business feature. A small display ad placed in the back issues of The Pincher Creek Echo stated that the Creamery paid the highest prices for cream and it was purchased on a grade basis. It promised to exclusively patronize local farmers and ranchers in its business dealings, an attempt to guarantee a steady supply. Mottos such as that were bound to be popular in a ranching settlement, working hard to ensure its own economic survival.

The Cell Electric Company operated out of the Hinton Block, near the west end of the business district on Main Street. It promoted the Delco-Light, “a complete electric light and power plant”. Advertizing claimed that this new electrical system was easy to install and simple to operate. It promised to supply electricity to rural customers at a very economical cost.

Two lesser known providers of professional services come to mind. One was the legal offices of Ebenezer Beveridge, who advertized himself as a “barrister, attorney, notary, etc”. He was a member of both the Alberta and Manitoba Bars. Beveridge also dabbled in the financial industry as he had “money to loan at lowest current rates”. His telephone number was 77.

The second was John F. Miller, who advertized his services as an “eyesight specialist”. He travelled throughout southwestern Alberta on business, stopping in Pincher Creek on a regular basis. His home offices were in the Underwood Block in Calgary.

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