Launch of ‘Call­beck’s of Bed­eque: A Cen­tury of Is­land En­ter­prise’ to be held on Satur­day

New book by Boyde Beck looks at history of well-known P.E.I. busi­ness

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT/COMMUNITY -

“Call­beck’s of Bed­eque: A Cen­tury of Is­land En­ter­prise” re­ceives its Prince County launch on Satur­day, Aug. 1, 1:30 p.m., in the Com­mu­nity Room of the Wil­liam Call­beck Cen­tre, Cen­tral Bed­eque.

The launch is spon­sored by the Bed­eque Area His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum, which is lo­cated in part of the orig­i­nal Call­beck’s Store and has a dis­play on the store. Au­thor Boyde Beck will speak and sign copies, and Cather­ine and Bill Call­beck will be present. Re­fresh­ments will be served.

The book tells the story of how in 1890 a young man named Will Call­beck asked his boss for a raise. He was clerk­ing at Colin Wright’s gen­eral store in Cen­tral Bed­eque, mak­ing $300 a year. It was a re­spectable salary for the time, but not enough to get mar­ried and start a fam­ily, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing he’d have to sup­port his wid­owed mother and mother-in-law as well.

Even though his boss was also a cousin, Will didn’t get the raise, and so he de­cided it was time to look for another way to make a liv­ing. On his mother’s ad­vice, he went to Char­lot­te­town, learned how to be a tai­lor and a year later was back in Bed­eque, open­ing a shop across the road from the store where he used to work.

Sev­eral years later he bought Colin Wright’s store as well and soon added du­ties as the man­ager of the Dunk River Dairy Com­pany, one of the most suc­cess­ful dairies in the province, to his re­sume. Over a cen­tury later the store and tai­lor shop are still there, part of the Wm Call­beck Cen­tre.

“Call­beck’s of Bed­eque: A Cen­tury of Is­land En­ter­prise” ex­plores how the busi­ness grew over three gen­er­a­tions; from Will Call­beck to Will’s youngest son, Ralph, who made Call­becks one of the big­gest stores and opened one of the first su­per­mar­kets on the Is­land, to Ralph’s chil­dren, Bill and Cather­ine, who con­tin­ued to grow the busi­ness through the eco­nomic storms of the later part of the cen­tury and man­aged to re­tire on their own terms.

The book though, is more than the history of a fam­ily busi­ness. It’s the story of a store in the coun­try that be­comes the story of coun­try stores on the Is­land and how they changed through the 20th cen­tury. It looks at the role they played in the life of the com­mu­nity, from the days when the egg money was what kept gro­ceries on the ta­ble to the hey­day of the coun­try store, when a trip to the store wasn’t a chore, it was one of the high­lights of the week.


This pic­ture from 1929 shows how times have changed for Call­beck’s store and the com­mu­nity of Bed­eque. The Prince County launch for “Call­beck’s of Bed­eque: A Cen­tury of Is­land En­ter­prise” will be held on Satur­day, Aug. 1, 1:30 p.m.

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