Stores on Front Street in downtown Belleville, circa 1924
A poem listing all of the businesses on Front Street in Belleville that existed back in the 1920's, has been circulating for years. The author was William James Savage. Most of the buildings housing these businesses still exist; what’s fun today is trying to identify any of them from these brief descriptions below. The poem makes reference to at least 210 business and other institutions on Front Street. Other poems by Mr. Savage are in the Community Archives Centre.
West Side, North to South
The people of Belleville must surely all know
Each store that’s on Front Street – if not they are slow
But to those who are strangers and come from afar,
I will tell you the name and just where they are.
Now, there’s Moore who has monuments, marble and stone,
For those who have left us for regions unknown.
Fiitzgerald cleaning and pressing next door,
Will patch up your trousers if they should be tore.
Next, there is a laundry run by two brothers called Lem,
If your garments need washing, just take them to them.
The Fire Hall’s next, with the ladder and hose
And a fine staff of firemen, everyone knows.
Old Robinson is next to No. 2 Fire Hall,
Who will sell you the paper to put on the wall.
Then there’s Melchoir, who now is quite aged and grey
Sells oranges and fruit that are cheap, so they say.
Then Joe Branson’s stables in front of a garage,
Where Ben Sanford use to sell fish fine and large.
Then, Elvins the grocer, McCoy who mends shoes,
And Mason sells whatever candy you choose.
Then Logue, the watchmaker, where you find lots of tick,
Next, Bennett the barber, who’ll cut your hair slick.
The old Walker Foundry with Foley in charge,
Then Ben Sopher’s store, which was Graham’s garage.
Ed Thomas’s newsstand is next one from here
Then the new painted place called Hotel Belvedere.
Sid Twining, the barber with his pole at the door,
Jonas Bargman and Son has a gents clothing store.
The Hastings House were you eat, drink and sleep,
Behind it the stables that Tom Luffman keeps,
Then there’s Fairfield the grocer and Charlton’s cake shop,
He bakes bread and sells cakes with nuts on the top.
The Hardware of Halls where they sell rakes and hoes,
Then Hong Lee from China, who washes the clothes.
Roy’s Brewery next where we used to buy beer,
But since prohibition you can’t get it here.
Dick Black mends all kinds and all sizes of boots.
But, Tony Quattrochi sells all kinds of fruits,
There’s Copeland the saddler, who has now retired,
But, Mouck is next door, he will do as required.
Don Bleeker sells pills if your stomach should ache,
But McCormick your picture will take.
McCurdy sells watches and diamonds rare,
Barber Watts sells Stay Put to rub in the hair.
Fitzpatrick sells papers, tobacco as well,
And all kinds of foodstuff Dominion Stores sell.
At Green’s there’s pianos and organs for sale,
Smith’s Hardware has paint and wallpaper as well.
And next to him is the City Hotel.
Wray says, “if you marry he’ll furnish the nest”,
George Thompson does likewise, I don’t know who’s best
The Pool Room and shoe shine is kept by Maraskas,
The National Bakery has good bread if you ask us.
The shop windows beckon as we walk down the street
Symons dresses make ladies look tidy and neat.
Then there’s Diamond and Hyde who your plumbing will do
Your house William Thompson will furnish right through.
There’s one place I’m forgetting, by gosh,
And that’s the dry store of Bill McIntosh.
Then there’s Wottens, who nothing but ladies wear sell,
Geen’s had prayer books and bibles and a drug store as well.
Then comes Wallbridge the grocer, who is pretty well known,
In the gangway, there is Henly, he mends boots as is known.
Next there’s Ritchie’s where poor folk or aristocrats
Can buy overalls or ten gallon hats.
Vermilyea has rubbers and boots for the feet,
And then comes the shop where we find Mrs. Neate.
Edwards the Specialist looks after the eyes,
Meagher has trousers of every size.
If its candy you want you can get it from Moore,
Quick and Robertson, too, will see you next door,
Who will sell you a suit or a good pair of socks.
John Borbridge is next who sells watches and clocks.
If your wife wants a dress and you’ve got money to spare
Just go to McNabb’s you’ll get rid of it there.
Then Dolan the druggist has drugs of all kinds,
And George Lee, the tailor, upstairs you will find.
For boots go to Carney, he sells rubbers too.
Walker’s Hardware sells paint to make things like new.
The next one is Woolworth’s, the red painted store.
Known all the world over, by rich and by poor.
Then Hyman has furs of costliest kind.
The doughnut shop of Tarlington next door you’ll find.
The next is what was known as the Canadian Café
With savoury aromas that drifted your way.
Then Stewart comes next, who sells gentleman’s clothes,
If you don’t believe me, ask Ginger, he knows.
Then Lattimer’s drug store, upstairs Donahue
Takes pictures, and Clarke is a dentist there too.
Below them is Haines who sells shoes big and small,
If you want fishing tackle, give Sulman a call.
Then comes Adams the Shoe Man, and Sinclair next door
Will sell you a coat for the girl you adore.
A good suit of clothes you can get at Oak Hall
Miss Campbell has millinery to suit one and all.
Upstairs, Marshall tears out your teeth by the roots,
Clarke will photograph you from your head to your boots.
McFee test yours eyes and fits you with glasses,
And Tanners has hats that are fit for all classes.
Sills has a news shop, sells paper and books,
And next door to that, you will find Earle and Cook’s.
Then Symons for men’s wear and tailor McGio,
And next is the drug store of Schryver, you’ll see
The Dominion Bank next, as you are aware,
Men of all classes will congregate there.
Then over Bridge Street, is the pool room of Day’s
Where men go a pool game or billiards to play.
Black’s candies are sweet, so they say, just like honey,
The Royal Bank next, where they have lots of money.
Parks sell rye or barley whatever you wish,
Then go to George Ellis, he’ll sell you some fish.
Eddie Thomas sells papers, his stock is complete,
Then there’s Wheeler’s Restaurant, if you’re anxious to eat.
Jack Fahey’s gents clothier sounds Irish, I’m sure
And right next to him are Dominion Stores.
Then Bishop sells seeds, farm seeds and flowers besides,
McCreary will give you a price for your hide.
The Ontario office spreads news all around,
At Reid’s restaurant a square meal can be found.
Next Wills and Gribbles, who motor cars sell
Tom Powers is next at the New Queen’s Hotel.
Then on to the next, a garage of George Deline,
Then a Church where they preach the Gospel divine.
Give Grotto a call if a taxi you want,
The next is a stall and a small restaurant.
Then the wee hut of Lamberts, a portable house,
And then Goodman’s junk shop, a good home for a mouse.
Orr’s Livery is next, cars and horses as well,
Then Parkdale’s Garage, Dodge Brothers cars they sell.
Then No. 1 Fire Hall stands by the park
Where looking across you can see Billy Clarke,
Who will do what you want in the blacksmithing line,
And at fixing lawn mowers, they say he is fine.
I don’t think we’ll bother in crossing the track
Where the C.P.R. runs, so will turn and go back.
East Side – South to North
Now for the east side of Belleville’s Front Street
Where an assortment of stores you will meet.
There’s Warren’s Garage with the new Chevrolet,
And you’ve got Gallagher’s coal for a very cold day.
On the next lot last winter was an ice skating rink,
But someone will build on that shortly, I think.
There’s a little stone house and the shop of Charles Eden,
Who fixes up furniture, if any you’re needin’.
Harry Hill is a blacksmith, his shop is behind,
And Sloan’s Wholesale warehouse next door you will find.
Then the Chamber of Commere, where smart business men
Figure out things that hold advantage for them.
Patterson Construction has an office upstairs,
And next on the scene Belleville Market appears.
Very busy on days when the market is on,
But as quiet as death when the farmers are gone.
There’s the old City Hall, in its majesty towers,
And the clock (when it’s going) strikes out the hours.
In the City Hall Chamber the Council agree,
Sometimes – and sometimes they don’t, seems to me.
Then the Molson’s Bank stands where the Farmer’s Bank fell,
And the fried fish shop, “My, my, what a smell”.
Green the butcher is next, Young, the grocer next door,
Then comes Panter who too has a grocery store.
On we go to Gill French, who has hay, flour and feed,
As a grocer Mike Lynch can supply what you need.
There’s the Veteran’s Hall where old solders meet,
And tell how the Kaiser went down to defeat.
Then we find Howe and Hagerman’s tin shop and store
Who does plumbing and heating for rich and for poor.
Tom’s Café is next, with chop suey and rice,
Where you’ll get a good meal if you put up the price.
Bill Green is next with all kinds of meat.
The electrician, Jack Carter, has Bullen’s old stand
Blotted out since prohibition swept over the land.
There’s the barber named George, and there’s Perkin’s boot shop,
Fisher sells things by auction and by tackling tip-top.
Then Sullivan the barber, United Cigar Store,
And Ostrum the druggist, you’ll find him next door,
Then Dickens for ice cream and all kinds of cakes,
And Morgan’s fine suits and overcoats make.
Get your clothes cleaned and pressed at “My Wardrobe” by Sprague,
Doyle the duggist has pills if your vigour should lag.
McCroddan has millinery, stylish and neat,
And Martin next door has a good show of meat.
Then there’s Pappas Pool Room, a shoeshine as well,
Chauncy Ashley has houses to rent or to sell.
Another Chinese Café is next in the line
And the Regent Theatre has shows so fine.
Bank of Commerce is next, which is built out of stone,
And here Campbell Street on the map will be shown.
And so now just for the fun we will go over the way
To the Union Bank, where there’s money they say.
The Canadian National “Ticket Office” is here,
And Candyland next, where meals they prepare.
Then Blackburn’s has watches and jewelry too,
Cosmopolitan Stores fit the ladies all through.
Burrows of Belleville your life will insure.
The Dominion Express money orders are sure.,
And Ray the Optician looks after your eyes.
Bill Leslie has boots of most any size,
McIntosh sells dry goods from a shirt to a shroud,
His neighbor you’ll find is the Tea Shop of Stroud.
Then comes Lewis Hardware that’s run by Moses Doyle,
Next is Strafford’s Hardware, they sell paint and oil.
And Walter’s will sell you a tailor-made coat.
McKeown, you know, is a druggist of note
Of George Woodley’s Furs almost everyone knows,
Tickell dresses the dead in their last suit of clothes.
Jones sells bananas that are yellow and ripe.
Just go to John Fenn if you’re needin’ a pipe.
Burke sells men’s clothes with undoubted success,
And right next to him is the Ed Cherry Press.
Herb Fish sells men’s suits and he will fit you out swell.
And next you will see the Belleville Intell
Then another café, it’s a Chinese place too.
Then the poolroom for them that have nothing to do.
Then comes the bookshop of Jennings and Sherry,
Where there’s books of all kinds for the sad and the merry.
Victoria Avenue now we must cross,
To the store where Ed Kelloway claims to be boss.
Gerald Heittzman’s music store now comes into view.
Kroch fits ladies out from their hat to their shoe,
Then Hong King, the laundry man, Chinese by birth,
Second hand goods at Springers, he’ll charge all they’re worth.
There’s Rodbourne for trucking and two and a half beer,
And Sullivan next, who will trim up your hair.
The farmers from Boyo will their implements buy
Also Chalmers and Hubbs, situated close by.
There’s the Crystal Hotel, where the travellers rest,
Ace is the agent for cars, which he says are the best.
Finlay and Philbin have a feed store complete,
And Sharpe is a barber, he’ll trim you up neat.
Walt Turner’s a butcher, sells mutton and pork,
Buy a cycle from License, if you don’t want to walk
Then comes Jim Skinner, a barber by trade,
Jack Diamond sells everything, low or high grade,
St. Charles has converted his old carriage shop
To a service for motorists, he asks you to stop.
Then McCarthy’s Theatre, it took two years to build,
Next the Kyle House Apartments, always pretty well filled.
There’s Rathman’s food store, in Warddough’s old stand,
And Graham’s cold storage the next one on hand.
There’s Goodman’s next door, with goods second hand,
And Thomas the butcher still at the old stand.
Then Powell we find, a machinist by trade,
And for jobs that he does, he gets pretty well paid.
Jack Shannon comes next with his small grocery store.
Mrs. Tobe is the lady who keeps right next door.
Then Simpson mends shoes, he is Scotch you can tell.
Next we have Goldberg, then Tilbrook we find,
A mender of shoes, and to the returned soldier is kind.
Then comes Artis, the grocer, who is minus one hand,
And Bailey buys produce, obtained from the land.
The Hall of the Masons is right up the stairs,
Then we go on to Vetcher’s, with second hand wares.
There’s granite and marble in big blocks next door,
All cut out and lettered by a fellow named Moore.
Now this is the end of Belleville’s Front Street
And I think you will find this list is complete.
If you find someone’s name I neglected to mention
I assure you, it wasn’t my willful intention.
– William James Savage