The Beach Corner Story
by George H. Fuhr
During the years, 1929 to 1939, when the economy of our country was going through what was called the "hungry thirties", "the dirty thirties", "depression", or whatever else one called it, it wasn't a very nie situation for anyone. It was the time when the price of wheat dropped from over one dollar per bushel to less than twenty cents per bushel, practically overnight. Since this was mostly a farming community most everyone suffered. The bottom dropped out of the stock market. Laborers could not buy a job of any kind, there just wasn't any money around anywhere. The Government of Alberta set up a program whereby they paid the farmers five dollars per month to provide room and board in return for farm chores for anyone seeking employment. The Government of Alberta would also supply each man with winter clothing, felt boots, rubber, two pairs of socks, two pair of long fleece underwear, two pair of pants, two shirts, one winter jacket, gloves and a bus ticket before he was sent to a farm that requested help.
The winter of 1935 was very cold and long and the snow was heavy. The school I attended was located on SW 8-53-1-W5, namely Blueberry School No.3, which meant a trek of 1 1/2 miles to and from, which seemed a long walk especially in the winters. There were always farm chores waiting to be done when I arrived home.
During the long winter nights my father John P. Fuhr and my mother Catherine would question and talk about how to make a better living for themselves and their family. My father was born and raised in Austria and I remember him saying that he had learned many different trades, as a boy. One of them was working in various stores after school, learning the business. This brought to mind a yearning for his own business and thus the Beach Corner Store was a dream complete. He decided to build the store on the SW corner of our farm, SW 5-53-1-W5. this is now known as the old Beach Corner.
The building was started in early spring of 1936, with Mr. Moyer as the carpenter. Like most projects, this one also had it's share of sweat and tears. At one point all of the newly bought lumber was stolen during the night. This was very usetting to my Father because it meant further delay. In any event the store was opened on schdule, July 1st, 1936. My brother Edward and I assisted my Father in the General Store until the year 1942. In 1937 car gas pumps were installed, and the Beach Corner Post Office was opened. There was also a Post Office at Edmonton Beach, during the summer. Jack barrie owned and operated that. The mail was delivered daily to that Post Office from the Beach Corner Post Office. There was daily mail delivery to the Beach Corner Post Office via the Greyhound Bus.
I remember especially the bartering that was so common during the depression due to the lack of money. The farmers or customers would bring eggs and homemade butter in exchange for their groceries. the price of a pound of butter at that time was a nickel, eggs were selling for six cents per dozen, and a package of five cigarettes sold for five cents. The Provincial Government tried in many ways possible to aid. they tried to boost the economy by issuing script money. This was pay for the working class and this script money could not be passed to another person without a special stamp that had to be affixed to it.
In 1939, my brother, the late Edward Fuhr, wanted to enlist in the Royal canadian Navy, but failing that, waited until 1941 when he enlisted in The Royal Canadian Air Force. During training at ITS, when he was taking his pilot's training, the Medical Doctors discovered he was medically unfit, due to a bad heart. After his discharge he moved to Vancouver to live.
In the spring of 1942, I joined the Royal Canadian Navy. During my service I had an accident and was given a medical discharge in the summer of 1943. This left the business with only my father, but with the help of Elsie Miller they operated the store and post office until the summer of 1943. My father then sold the business to my brother Philip, who was then the owner and operator for twenty-five years.
In the winter of 1945, i bought 2.04 acres of land from my father. This was situated across the highway from the Beach Corner store. My family and I moved out there from Edmonton and in the fall of 1946, I built my own business, namely Fuhr's Hardware and Building Supplies, which my wife Sylvia and I operated until the new Highway 16 came through one mile further to the north. Out of necessity and in order to accommodate the Highway traffic, we then relocated our business to the corner of highwys 16 and 29. In the spring of 1960, we opened a general store with gas bars to the front of it. Some of the farmers would also, out of necessity have to charge some of their merchandise, and then depend on their crops, in order to pay their bills. It was called a family business with all of the children assisting. This business was then named Junction 29 Services.
In 1973 when we wanted to expand our business we discovered that in 1963 the Government of Alberta changed the law and had made our place a non-conforming location, which meant that we could not expand or even rebuild if fire destroyed the business. As a result the store was closed. It stayed closed for several years until we received the proper zoning. At present it is operated by an oil company.
In 1946, miss. Elsie Miller moved back from the city and opened up a Coffee Shop at old Beach Corner. I'm sure that many people who fequented her coffee shop will remember the good food and excellent service. In 1947, in June, the first Farmers' Day in Alberta was held at Beach Corner in a field next to the Hardware store. The late John C. Fuhr was the initiator of that and it was very successful.
In 1949, the same John C. Fuhr established a feed mill about 200 yards east of the coffee shop. When the new highway 16, one mile to the north of highway 29 was finished and useable, the old Beach Corner became a ghost town, with the feed mill also being destroyed.
The General Store, Post Office, Garage and Beach Corner Coffee Shop were once again relocated directly one mile north of the old location and although all the businesses have changed hands, they are still operating at the present time.
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