May 1, 2019
In the early settler years of Maple Ridge, a familiar set of businesses were the first to come in – the industries like brickyards, logging, the railroad, as well as the banks, general stores, and post offices. One of those early businesses is often overlooked – the confectionary. It is hard to believe but the arrival of industry and settler communities was almost always accompanied by a business selling sweet treats.
As their primary audience, the confectionary stores would move into settler communities as soon as there were children in the market. Their big draw was selling ice cream, quite an accomplishment and treat in the time before refrigeration. But they also sold penny candies, chocolates, and eventually hit the market of soda fountains, a big draw for the first half of the 20th century.
The first confectionary and place to buy sweet treats in the area was Wilsons Confectionary in Port Hammond. We know that the building was there as far back as 1909. It stuck around through the years and eventually became Maddens Confectionary in the late 1920’s, changing hands again and becoming Davies Confectionary through the 1960’s.
Due to the limited buildings and materials in the early years, the confectionaries of Port Hammond, Port Haney, and Whonnock served dual purposes, acting as a candy shop and local hang out spot. Wilson’s in Port Hammond doubled as a pool hall and Luno’s Confectionary in Whonnock doubled as a gas bar and truck stop for early logging trucks.
The early marketing of these confectionaries was aimed at children, a marketing technique that has not changed over the years. In Haney, the Haney Confectionary Shop was built deliberately next to the high school to target the youth crowd. In a not so subtle 1941 Grand Opening announcement they advertise that they are opposite the high school and that they sell “Confectionary, Candy, and School Supplies.” This confectionary was quickly renamed Handy Candy and eventually became the Swing Inn.
Though we still have candy stores today that specialize in satisfying our sweet tooth, these early confectioneries wouldn’t go on to become the odd candy shop around town. They were always multipurpose buildings, a place where you could get a light lunch, play pool, get school supplies, and an ice cream. Today their legacy is can be seen more in the convenience store, a place that has a lot of sweets and a little bit of everything else.
Curator of the Maple Ridge Museum and Community Archives