Everett Roche is hoping some of these tales will come from the hundreds of people who had some sort of an association with the capital city’s landmark over the years. He’s also hoping their voices will have a major role to play in the celebrations for the Charlottetown heritage structure’s 150th birthday.
“It’s also known as the former Rogers Hardware building. We are inviting people to tell their stories about (doing business there). Individuals are also invited to drop by our building and share their memories. We will be incorporating trivia and prizes to encourage engagement with the public,” says Roche, MRSB managing partner.
Located at 137-139 Queen St., the building has been recognized by Canada’s Historic Places for its brick construction, round and arched windows and Italianate architecture and its importance to the Queen Street streetscape.
Throughout its working life it has housed Rogers Hardware Company, Dodd and Rogers Hardware, The Medical Hall and Canada Trust. Since 2004 it’s been owned by MRSB, a professional services firm.
“The first part of it was built in 1867 so it’s as old as Confederation,” says Roche.
Already he has been listening to Islanders’ stories.
Charlottetown resident Catherine Hennessey remembers buying her wedding china at Rogers Hardware in 1959.
“The pattern is snow. It was such a lovely china shop,” says Hennessey, who also recalls the store using a pneumatic tube system, in the early days, which would take cylindrical containers filled with customers’ money to a central cashier by compressed air or vacuum.
“It was fast.”
Edie Rogers has fond childhood memories of the property. She is the daughter of Tom Rogers who, with his brother, George, purchased the building in 1950. Tom continued to run Rogers Hardware Company until 1988.
“My father pretty much worked seven days a week. So on Sundays, after church, we would go there. It was our chance to have the whole place to ourselves,” says Rogers, who was often accompanied by her sisters, Charlotte and Ruth.
With its multiple floors, it was the perfect place for children to play.
“There were lovely little drawers on the hardware side; cute little compartments with wooden tops that you could flip open and see every size of screw or wire.”
In fact, the store was so well stocked with merchandise that Rogers and her siblings rarely got bored.
“We’d run around and check everything out. But there was no going home with anything. We weren’t allowed to take a bottle of pop without it being accounted for,” says Rogers, with a laugh.
Her favourite part of the day was playing hide and go seek in the warehouse.
“It was kind of creepy and fun to hide in the stacks up there.”
A previous owner, Mr. Dodd, had a drug store and hardware store.
“During prohibition, there was a hole made in the brick wall in the basement where they used to pass (alcohol) from the drug store side over to the hardware side.
“So, as kids, we would go down to the basement, which was kind of creepy, and look for the hole in the wall,” says Rogers.
After hearing a few of the stories, Roche is optimistic about the next 100 years.
“It’s a special building. We want to do our part to take care of the property and tell its story. We want to do the best we can so it stays an important part of the streetscape on Queen Street.”
Decades after she played in the halls of Rogers Hardware, Rogers is appreciative of how well the building has been restored and cared for.
“It’s really great that it’s got a second life. It’s a beautiful building and I know that (my father) would be really, really pleased.”
Getting in touch: Got a story to tell or a photo share about 137-139 Queen St.? Contact Jennifer MacKinnon at 902-368-2643 or, by email, [email protected].
Thomas W. Dodd and Benjamin Rogers were two Charlottetown businessmen who formed a business in 1859 called Dodd & Rogers. From their business on Pownal Street, they operated a general store and sold stoves.
In 1867, they each bought a lot of frontage of 28 feet, on the corner of Queen Street and Grafton Street. They soon had the current building, 137-139 Queen St., constructed on their two properties.
In 1904, Benjamin Rogers took over the Dodd & Rogers business and changed the name to Rogers Hardware. By 1921 his business occupied the entire building.
In 1988 the Rogers Hardware Company left the premises for one of their former warehouses on Grafton Street. A branch of Canada Trust moved into the 137-139 Queen St. building, after renovations were made to the interior.
The building housed the bank for a while, but recently it was converted to house the MRSB Group