This photograph, taken in the late 1920s, shows three commercial buildings on the north side of Queen Street in the block between Water and Wellington Streets. The main focus is the Thames Valley Bread Company at 101 Queen Street East with staff, delivery trucks and wagons arrayed in front of the store. It was an impressive business. There are five men and five women dressed in white: these are the bakers, assistants and counter staff. Four delivery men stand by their motorized vehicles while at the extreme left and right, two additional men, identified as Wilbert Johnston and Charlie Massey, were responsible for the horses and wagons. Hazelton C. White, a partner in the company, is the gentleman in the white shirt, tie and bowler hat standing directly under the E in the word BREAD on the window sign.
This bakery can trace its roots to a Water Street business started by John Bartlett in 1868 and purchased by A. H. Zurbrigg in 1907. In 1912, Zurbrigg relocated to Queen Street and in 1921, H. C. White became a partner and the Thames Valley Bread Company was formed. Soon there was a fleet of trucks for retail delivery and by 1927, another bakery in Stratford. The St. Marys store was renowned not only for baked goods but also for its ice cream parlour with marble-topped tables, a popular place on busy Saturday evenings.
Jack’s Fruit Store on the left of the photograph was operated by Jack and Flossie Sgariglia. This store later moved to the south side of Queen Street where it was a fixture for many years. Alf Paul, a member of the well-known Kirkton family, had the butcher shop beside it. To the east of the bakery was a barber shop operated by E. N. Bickell, another family name that is still part of this community. The Canadian Pacific agency for tickets, telegrams and express parcels was in the other half of this building.
These five businesses, offering goods and services required in a small town in the 1920s and 1930s, were an integral part of the streetscape. Although the facades and the contents of the stores have changed, the buildings still stand, a part of downtown St. Marys.
Email the St. Marys Museum (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about downtown buildings.