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
“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.