Home Hardware - Quesnel, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
N 52° 58.641 W 122° 29.778
10U E 533821 N 5869869
Quick Description: This building has been a hardware store as long as it has been a building, possibly since 1932.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 9/14/2020 10:00:16 AM
Waymark Code: WM134JR
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Weathervane
Views: 0

Long Description:
PIC According to a 1946 Cariboo Observer news article this hardware store was established in 1933 (yet another article states the year as 1932) as the Northern Hardware & Furniture Co. The article also states that it was taken over on January 21, 1946 by Bill Willis and Lloyd Harper to become the Willis-Harper Hardware Store. No mention is made in subsequent issues of the Cariboo Observer in 1946, or in following years, of the construction of a new building. As a result, we suspect that the historical marker at the building, quoted below, is incorrect in stating that they "had this building constructed in 1946 to house their business". As well, the marker states that additions have resulted in a four storey building. The addition is three stories in height, not four.

In any event, the 1932 or 1946 building continues to house a hardware store, a member of the Home Hardware chain of hardware stores, and still known as Willis-Harper Hardware. Over the corner entrance hangs a somewhat Googie neon sign with the Willis-Harper Hardware name. Its style suggests that it was installed about the time that Willis and Harper took over the hardware store, in 1946.

To the right is one of the first advertisements placed in the Cariboo Observer following the Willis and Harper purchase of the business.

In 1997 Leigh Cassidy, who often signs her works Jerii, was commissioned to paint a couple of murals on the store. What resulted were very topical murals, reminiscent of 1940s advertisement backgrounds a hardware store might create for a flyer or newspaper ad. Actually, the theme of the artwork is "hardware stores of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s". Cassidy spent over two weeks on the murals in the summer of 1997, completing them in late July or early August.

Since 1997 Leigh (jerii) Cassidy has done quite a number of murals in Quesnel, some quite large. As well, she is the one who converted something like 22 of the city's fire hydrants into Little People, renditions of historic figures (even dogs) of Quesnel.
Home Hardware

Bill Willis and his partner Lloyd Harper had this building constructed in 1946 to house their business, Willis-Harper Hardware. The business soon outgrew the original two storey structure and additions were made, resulting in the existing four storey building.

Project funded in partnership with the City of Quesnel and Heritage Legacy Fund
Willis-Harper Hardware and Furniture Store
DESCRIPTION OF HISTORIC PLACE
Willis-Harper Hardware and Furniture Store is a large two storey commercial building constructed in 1946 which is prominently located on the southeast corner of Reid Street and Barlow Avenue in Downtown Quesnel. The historic place includes the building and the property it occupies.

HERITAGE VALUE
Willis-Harper Hardware and Furniture Store is located in Downtown Quesnel which is the commercial and administrative center of the city. Over the years, the building has expanded vertically and horizontally to accommodate business growth. While not in its original form, the building is a physical reminder of the people and businesses that shaped the development of Quesnel. The building is the anchor for commerce on Reid Street.

William and Dorothy Willis, Lloyd and Mary Harper, and Ron and Pat Mattison were the original partners in this very successful business venture that began in 1946. The owners were merchandising pioneers who envisioned a new commercial area in Quesnel. Since the early days of Quesnel, Front Street had been the center of commerce and trade. Even though Reid Street is located only one block east of Front Street, many believed the business would not succeed since Reid Street was considered too remote at the time. However, the business did prosper to become known as ‘Willis-Harper’ and synonymous with shopping in Quesnel. The store lived up to its motto ‘Willis-Harper, first with the best’, by providing residents with the latest products. It offered shoppers with lively advertisements featuring anecdotes, cartoons, and jokes among the sale items.

Since 1946, the various owners of the store have sponsored many local organizations and events. A community bulletin board was proudly displayed at the entrance for many years. Several Quesnel residents have worked at the store and most residents have shopped at Willis- Harper at one time or another. It was the first business to offer coupons, called the ‘Willis-Harper Buck’, that were available in many different denominations. Even though the store has changed hands over time, the original Willis-Harper Hardware and Furniture Store sign continues to be proudly displayed on the corner and rear of the building. The Willis and Harper families are recognized for their contribution to the development of the community with streets named in their honour.
From the Quesnel Heritage Register
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Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

Address:
288 Reid Street
Quesnel, BC
V2J 2M2


Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

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