After receiving a couple of e-mail messages, several telephone calls and comments from people I met on the street, I realised Kentville’s old Pepsi-Cola, Morse bottling plant is far from forgotten. I wrote about the Pepsi plant and Morris beverages in my last column. While the plant ceased operations over 50 years ago, people still remember it. Surprisingly, there are families still living here who had close connections with a building that started as a church, became a bottling plant and became a church again.
First, I’d like to mention Sam Milne of Kentville. He called to tell me his brother Cal was a plant employee for a time. Sam told me Cal drove the truck that delivered Pepsi (and I assume the Morris brand soda pop) to stores in this area, working under the proprietor, W. E. Morris. Cal had a humorous adventure or two working under Morris which indicted the latter had a firm hand on the operation.
In a note he sent me, Louis Comeau indicated that when the Pepsi plant was closed in 1949 it remained vacant until 1952, except for a short time when it was occupied by Maritime Roofers Ltd. From 1953 until 1958 the building was again used as a church, the Church of the Nazarene. Louis said the building was later moved to Spring Garden Road.
One of the readers who called about the column mentioned the late Bev Conrad’s connection with the Pepsi plant. This led to a conversation with his widow, Marion Conrad. She confirmed that she and her husband lived in an apartment that had been added to the building when it was moved to Spring Garden Road. The building was moved by Irving Oil in 1959 (to make room for a service station) and the Conrads lived in it for 27 years.
Joan Kennedy of Sheffield Mills writes (via e-mail) that she remembers the Pepsi building very well. “My grandfather, John William Turner was the Methodist minister in that church when he died in 1906,” Kennedy said. “When he died, he left a wife, three daughters and one son, my father Reginald Turner, who worked so many years at the Kentville Advertiser.”
From information Louis Comeau and readers of this column kindly provided, here’s a brief outline on the old church cum Pepsi Cola and Morris bottling plant: Used as a Methodist Church until 1923 (the Methodists stopped using the building as a church when they united with the Presbyterians. Opened as a bottling plant circa 1923, first for Morris soft drinks and later Pepsi Cola. The plant ceased bottling activities and closed in 1949. Building vacant from 1949 to 1952 when it was briefly used by a roofing firm. From 1953 until 1958 the building was used as a church (see above). Irving Oil purchased the building and the lot, moving the old plant to make room for a service station. The building still stands today on Spring Garden Road and says Marion Conrad, “you can still see the old church steeple.”