M & J Hardware - Lacombe, AB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 52° 27.789 W 113° 43.787
12U E 314557 N 5816058
Quick Description: Home to Lacombe's longest running family business, this was the second building to be occupied by the M & J partnership.
Location: Alberta, Canada
Date Posted: 8/20/2018 2:24:04 PM
Waymark Code: WMZ0FK
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member GeoKs
Views: 2

Long Description:
The M & J comes from the names of the original partners in the enterprise, Norman Morrison and James Johnston, who purchased the General Store in 1901 and opened a hardware business there. Quickly outgrowing that building, they had this building constructed in 1906. Here, M & J Hardware continued in business until 1975, making it Lacombe's longest running family business.

The original building on this site, a wood frame building erected in 1894, was moved off the site, becoming Lacombe's first hospital.

While the hardware business is long gone (the local Home Hardware outlet is now two doors to the west) several businesses have taken over portions of the building, including a video arcade, an Italian bakery and cafe and a denture clinic. On the west side of the brick building is a reproduction of M & J Hardware's old painted sign, advertising the Hardware & Tin Shop, with implements, furniture, even Ford cars, in their inventory.


Built in 1906, the M & J Hardware Building is a fine example of the architecturally eclectic commercial buildings erected throughout small communities in Alberta in the early twentieth century. Marrying utilitarian considerations with Edwardian Classical Revival stylistic elements, these structures typically featured readily available materials simply massed in an elegant, though not ostentatious, classical composition.

Much of the exterior of the M & J Hardware Building is composed of locally-made brick and sandstone. These materials are artfully arranged in a series of decorative classical features, including pilasters and segmental-arch windows with keystones. These elements are complemented by dominant cornices, a prominent pediment, and ornamental urns crowning the pilasters. The union of strong materials, solid massing, and elegant detailing projects an air of permanence, simplicity, and balance - qualities deemed vital for commercial endeavors in early Alberta. The M & J Hardware Building has undergone extensive conservation work and is now an integral part of Lacombe's historic downtown streetscape.

The M and J Hardware Building recalls the early commercial development of Lacombe and the significant contributions of the enterprise's founders to business and social life in the community. Like many central Alberta communities, Lacombe's origins can be traced to the completion of the Calgary & Edmonton Railway in 1891. The new line stimulated the creation of numerous stations and a host of new settlements. In 1902, the community known as Barnett was incorporated as the Town of Lacombe. One year prior, local entrepreneurs Norman Morrison and James Johnston had purchased the community's first general store. They operated their hardware business out of this site until 1905, by which time they had outgrown the store and required new accommodations. They constructed the stately M & J Hardware Building in 1906. The business was expanded in 1912 to accommodate a Ford motorcar repair shop and garage at the back of the building; gas pumps were added in 1915. Both Morrison and Johnston were prominent local citizens; their elegant residences still exist as testimony to their social status. Morrison was especially important to the nascent community of Lacombe. Not only was he one of the wealthiest citizens in the district (and the owner of the first automobile in town), but he also served as alderman and mayor. M & J Hardware remained in operation from 1901 until 1975, making it Lacombe's longest running family business.
From the Lacombe Municipal Heritage Survey

Photo goes Here

Type of Marker: Cultural

Sign Age: Historic Site or Building Marker

Parking: Street parking is available on the block

Placement agency: Town of Lacombe & Province of Alberta

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