While some historic Calgary corner stores have gone the way of the wrecking ball, others are emerging as community cornerstones
You see them dotted around the Calgary landscape.
Some, a little rough around the edges, have been frequented by families for more than 60 years. Others have undergone transformations to become lynch pins of re-emerging communities in the city.
They’re your neighbourhood corner store.
“Have you ever heard of Mary’s? We used to go there all the time when we would go to [Bowness] Park,” said Michelle Norman, 28.
“I hadn’t been there in a long time, but it reminded me of all the little stores out by [my dad’s] farm in Olds and Cochrane which is why I think I really liked it.”
Mary’s, formerly located on Bowness Road and 60th Street S.W., was a cornerstone in the community of Bowness from the time it first opened in the 1940s. Like so many Calgary buildings and structures, however, it was heavily damaged in June 2013 flooding and last year was demolished.
“[It’s] like a piece of my childhood was missing,” said Norman of the demolition. “It was disheartening.”
Located in the community of Windsor Park, Burt’s Store on the corner of 50th Avenue and Elbow Drive S.W. was a regular stopover for 60 years before it too was demolished, though for a new development. While community gems like Mary’s and Burt’s have been scratched from the Calgary landscape, other historically significant corner stores remain – two of which are only a few blocks away from each other.
In Bridgeland, both Bridgeland Market and Lukes Drug are community mainstays to this day.
Bridgeland Market sits on First Avenue and 11th Street N.E. in a 1912-constructed brick building, and stocks its shelves with local goods and “products from regional suppliers and people around the world who actually care about what they produce”. On varying weeks, the market even supplies “neighbourhood discounts” to streets and avenues surrounding the store.
Lukes Drug Mart, just down the street on Fourth Street N.E., first opened in 1951 by Jim Lukes. Today, it’s run by his grandson Gareth. The store offers pharmacy services, postal services, groceries, pet care, records, a coffee bar and more. There are now three locations in Calgary, as well as a new store in Vancouver.
Area corner stores aren’t necessarily confined by Calgary’s city limits. Cochrane resident Gemma Bierback noted Kimmer Country Market on Sunset Drive as her favourite stop, especially when in a pinch.
“I have bought a week’s worth of groceries there when I was in a time crunch,” she said.