Downtown store celebrates 100 years – The Free Press Turns 115 Years Old

Downtown store celebrates 100 years - The Free Press Turns 115 Years Old

November 26th 2009

Free PressFiles

One of Fernie’s most prominent downtown stores is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its premises on Friday.

The IGS building was originally built to house the Trites Wood department store after the fire in 1908 that destroyed most of the city.

Before 1908 the store was known as the London and Liverpool Department Store and the building became IGS Enterprises in 1970 when it was bought by Ingrid and Art Sombrowski.

IGS Marketing and Sales director Scott Gilmet said a little detective work had to be carried out to find out exactly when the building opened – mostly by searching through archives from The Free Press at that time.

“There was a story in the paper in November 1909 saying that they were moving stock into the new building and then an advertisement on Nov. 26 to say they are now open for business in the new location. From there we worked out it must have been on or around Nov. 22 when it actually opened.”

The first part of the building to be open was the half where Value Drug Mart is now housed – the other half, which now contains The Fernie Academy and Straight Line, opened in March 1914 and featured Trites Wood furniture and china store as well as Suddaby’s Rexall Drug Store.

Other advertisements for the store show the evolution of shopping trends during the last century.

In 1949 an advertisement for the new self serve grocery listed the benefits of self service as: “easy to reach foods, clearly marked prices, spacious isles (for freedom and comfort when shopping), conveniently-placed shopping carts and baskets, two speedy check-out machines (to enable you to shop in less time).”

The building currently houses Home Hardware, Drug Mart, Bear Necessities, Straight Line and The Fernie Academy. Other past businesses that were located inside included Parkland Furniture, Gellners Furniture. Shrivens Furniture, TD Bank, Fields, Cunninghams Fernie Drugs, CFEK Radio, E.K. Community College, Peter Grapham Law Office, Rob Buddenhagen Law Office, Marion Gravelle and Fernie Optimist.

The centenary will be celebrated from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Friday with tea and coffee, official cake cutting at 1 p.m. and live entertainers.

Fernie Historical Society will operate a barbecue and provide historical tours of the Second Avenue block, including a view of one of Fernie’s last underground tunnels in the IGS basement.

For more great stories that ran in The Free Press in the past 115 years