“Eileen

ESQUIMALT HISTORY: Round the corner: Grocery stores in Esquimalt

Grocery stores have had a long history in Esquimalt.

By Greg Evans

Grocery stores have had a long history in Esquimalt. According to the British Columbia Guide and Directory of 1863, two grocers were operating in the Old Village of Esquimalt — Thomas Rabson and J. P. Smith. While little is known about them, it is likely that they found a steady stream of customers in the crews of Royal Navy ships and merchantmen who found themselves in Esquimalt Harbour.

At the time of the municipality’s incorporation in 1912, the Old Village’s mainstay was the Esquimalt Grocery owned by James Mesher. Nearby was Stetson’s Confectionary which helped ensure that those residents with a sweet tooth were well looked after. Over the following years other grocery stores became fixtures in the community.

In the Beaumont area at Esquimalt and Admirals roads stood the Midway Grocery operated during the First World War by James P. King. To the east in the Thoburn area at Esquimalt Road and Head Street, the Thoburn Grocery store, proprietor P. D. Johnston, was located in the building that still stands on the south east corner and which was until recently the V. & J. Super Low Food Market. It is interesting to note that both areas were postal districts for the township. If you lived along Craigflower Road there were several stores in the Burleith area near Arm Street and at the corner with Tillicum was King’s Grocery which later became the PDY. Fresh eggs and milk were provided by small farms and dairies located with the township.

Looking back, the prices of yesteryear are always fascinating. In the 1930s, ads from grocery stores across the region show that bacon could be had for 35 cents a pound, peanut butter for 10 cents a pound, freshly ground coffee would set you back 20 cents a pound while two pounds of local kippers were available for the low price of 25 cents. Of course, we have to remember that wages were lower than today so it is all relative.

But local grocery stores were more than just suppliers of food and drink. They also served an important function as a place where you bumped into your neighbours, could chat about the latest gossip and get a sense of the pulse of the community.

 

Just Posted

Victoria police investigate dumpster fire in gated alleyway

VicPD and Victoria Fire Department respond to fire on Johnson Street

Pacific FC signs 24-year-old defensive midfielder from Panama

González joins the roster following the team’s 2-2 tie game against York9 FC.

Pacific FC game ends with tie against York9 on Saturday

PFC’s defender scored an own goal off a deflection, putting the game at 2-2

Famed Syrian artist displays paintings created while living in refugee camps

Farid Abdulbaki’s ‘Between Two Worlds’ exhibit will be displayed May 24-26 in Victoria

Mighty Garage Sale offers boost to Metchosin groups

Metchosin Community Association holds annual sale on May 25 and 26

VIDEO: Horseshoe pitching association appeals to Greater Victora youngsters

Youth horseshoe pitching club offers fun for all ages, says GVHPA

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Vancouver Island MusicFest: ‘House bands’ from the golden age of rock and R&B

Some of America’s greatest session musicians are coming to the Comox Valley this summer

Most Read