T.P. CALKIN – OVER A CENTURY IN BUSINESS (January 17/97)

In a column last fall on Hutchinson’s provincial directory for 1864-65, I mentioned Benjamin H. Calkin, listed as a Justice of the Peace and merchant, and asked if he might be connected with the old Valley firm of T.P Calkin.

Garth Calkin wrote to confirm that Benjamin was the founder of T.P. Calkin Ltd. Mr. Calkin, the grandson of the founder, said that Benjamin opened a general store in 1847 on the site now occupied by Kentville’s Town Hall. T.P. Calkin operated in Nova Scotia for well over a century, marking its 120th anniversary during Canada’s Centennial year.

Since mentioning Benjamin Calkin in this column, I came across a copy of the brochure published on the firm’s 10th anniversary in 1947. Reading it, I discovered that the founders of Kentville’s oldest retail stores started their business career with T.P. Calkin. One was the founder of Rockwell Limited, W. Wylie Rockwell, who was with Calkin for 40 years and was a partner when he started his own business in 1910. Fred E. Wade, who founded the Valley grocery chain F. E. Wade Ltd. in 1922, was a Calkin director, working with the firm for two decades.

From a modest store on Kentville’s Main street, T.P. Calkin eventually expanded into Halifax, the South Shore and down the Valley as far as Bridgetown. Before it was sold to Sumners, T.P. Calkin became one of the largest and most successful hardware and building supplies dealers in Nova Scotia.

Interest In Book

The column on the Sketch of the Old Parish Burying Ground of Windsor brought an unusual number of inquiries from readers hoping to obtain a copy of the book. I should have mentioned in the column that, to my knowledge, the book is not available in local bookstores. Readers who expressed an interest in the book as a genealogical resource can find a copy in the Kentville library. I haven’t checked, but it’s possible the book can also be found at Acadia University’s library and the Nova Scotia Archives.

I promised several readers I would let them know if I found a source for the book. It’s a long shot, but readers could try contacting the West Hants Historical Society (P.O. Box 2335, Windsor, B0N 2T0). The Society was responsible for the printing of Sketches, etc., in 1989 and may have copies available.

Glen Parker, editor of the Hants Journal, gave me names and telephone numbers of Historical Society officers and you may wish to call them rather than write. Veronica and Dennis Connely (798-5265) or John Wilson (798-4596).

If you’re attempting to trace ancestors through local histories, the following books of Wolfville writer James Doyle Davison will be helpful: What Mean These Stones (on the old Horton – Wolfville burying ground); Mud Creek (history of Wolfville – Doyle is the editor); Handley Chipman, Kings County Planter; Eliza of Pleasant Valley (the second in a trilogy on the Chipmans of Kings County).

The indices of these books contain lengthy lists of family names which are common to this area and includes the original settlers.

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