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Businesses, Spring Coulee, Alberta

Pinepound Reflections
A History of Spring Coulee and District
pages 108 - 109

The Spring Coulee Trading Company was built in 1907 by W. L. Thompson and Addison Emery with H.E. Kelley as manager. Lumber and building supplies as well as clothing and groceries were sold there. For some years the telephone exchange was located there and Dorothy Anderson Jessop was one of the first telephone operators.

After Kelley left, it was managed by George Irwin and after his death in 1932 by William Steed (Isabel Bennett's father), later by Harvey Anderson. Mrs Nettie Munroe bought and operated this store in the late thirties and forties. In the fifties, John Perley once again opened and operated a grocery store in this building. Finally in 1954 the L.D.S. Church bought and remodelled this building for a church.

Records tell us Dan Eby managed a store in Spring Coulee which was bought in 1913 by Alex Munroe and Fred Eby. This store was located west of Boettcher's garage. Later, John Coffee Thompson built another store west of this one, a two story building. The main floor was the store and post office. The upstairs was used for dances and other entertainment. This burned in 1926.

FLASHBACK: 1926; an Early morning fire Sunday morning destroyed the general store of Alex Munroe in which also housed the post office. The loss of stock is placed at $I0,000.00 and the frame building owned by John Thompson was worth about $5,000.00. There is suspicion that night prowlers may had started the fire. Nearby buildings were saved by the efforts of a volunteer bucket brigade. The store was rebuilt, but around 1936 it burned down again and was not rebuilt.

Many card games were played in the Munroe store every day in the winter. Some of the players were Hans Olsen, Harry Bishop, Jack Barrus, Clarence Ripley and Herman Johnson. They would play until the train came in - the highlight of the day - everyone would come to town to meet it.

Mrs. Vella Joliffe ran a confectionary store in a building west of the Boettcher garage - old timers remember fondly all the penny candy they could buy there. Berry's Country Store was operated for many years by Vella and Harry Joliffe. It originally was a blacksmith shop and harness store operated by Zakanak and Alfred Yost.

After remodelling it was not only a grocery store, with living quarters in the rear, but the Greyhound bus depot, the post office and gas station. Later owners were Stuart and Kay Van Horn, Norman Brown, Warren and Desmonia Harris, Corey and Darcy Beck, Kirk and Judy Godionton and present owner Berry and B.J. Gorham.

A butcher shop operated until 1917. Vic Hillmer and Lundgreen Leifler came from Magrath once a week and sold fresh meat in a shop located near where Garth Peterson now lives.

FLASHBACK.- 1931 -August 27: Mr Smith from Cardston and Mr Vesper from Mountain View have purchased the building formerly occupied by L. Leifler and moved them up on main street. Last Thursday they opened the new meat market for business and we wish them luck. For a few years there was a barber shop, pool hall, hardware store (purchased in 1921 by Paul Boettcher and converted into a blacksmith shop machinery repair business, later used as a garage and auto repair shop).

FLASHBACK: 1909 - September 4th: The new Bank of Montreal at Spring Coulee is being built on Broadway, west of the Implement building. The lumber came in Monday and work began at once on it. It will be opened for business by September 15. The branch will be run from the Magrath office.

Spring Coulee had several farm machinery agencies over the years, the first being the Spring Coulee Trading Company in the early 1900's. Later, Harry Joliffe was agent for John Deere and Paul Boettcher for Minneapolis Moline and Oliver.

Across from the General Store was the Pool Hall and Barber shop, built and owned by J.C. Thompson. Alex Snowden and Mike Beimler were some of the early known proprietors. One of the early residents recalls that every spring, in the back of the pool hall, millinery hats were for sale - a real treat for the ladies of the area. One fond memory is when Vella Joliffe wished to enter the pool hall, she would knock on the door and holler "Yoo-hoo, lady coming in." This building has had various businesses over the years. Harvey Anderson ran a store and post office there in the 1930's. Later, John Massaakker used it for a garage, repairing and servicing vehicles. Today it still stands, a reminder of days gone by when small towns were an entity to themselves.

ITEMS OF INTEREST: Gas at Van Horn's store - 1943 - 8 cents a gallon Gas at Norman Brown - 1950 - 25 cents a gallon

ICE HOUSES - These were used in the days before electricity. John Thompson had one, also Van Horn's and one behind the hotel. Big chunks of ice were cut from the canal and packed in sawdust which came from the mills in train cars. This supply of ice would keep all through the summer and be put in the ice boxes in the stores and houses of those who had one.

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Mary Tollestrup