“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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Felix Townsin, shown here with his sister, Lexi, who died on Oct. 19, 2019. Felix is a big part of a family initiative aimed at finding a cure for Blau Syndrome. (Photo contributed by the Townsin family)
Quest to cure Blau syndrome a family affair

John Stubbs student produces film for late little sister Lexi

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

An incident on Sooke Road is slowing traffic Wednesday evening. (Courtesy of Mona Hazeldine)
Sooke Road incident snarls evening traffic

Witnesses report two-vehicle collision

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Soccer player Ethan Finnigan juggles the ball at Oak Bay High. The Grade 12 student was injured much of last year and was relying on his senior year to score a scholarship and play at university. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
High school athletes remain on sidelines across B.C.

Recruiting for university on hiatus, future unknown

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read