‘A friendly place to come’

Com­mu­nity cel­e­brates re­open­ing of Halls Har­bour’s iconic Parker’s Gen­eral Store

Valley Journal Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - BY KIRK STARRATT KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA

Af­ter sev­eral years of in­ac­tiv­ity, res­i­dents and vis­i­tors in Halls Har­bour are re­liv­ing the nos­tal­gia and mem­o­ries of an iconic com­mu­nity land­mark.

Parker’s Gen­eral Store, which has a his­tory dat­ing back to the 1880s, has re­opened un­der the man­age­ment of well­known com­mu­nity mem­bers and for­mer Kings County coun­cil­lors Dick Kil­lam and Madonna Spina­zola. The store re­opened with a cel­e­bra­tion on Aug. 22.

The event was like a stroll down mem­ory lane for An­gela Schur­man of Cen­tre­ville. She re­mem­bers the store as “a friendly place to come” when she was grow­ing up in Halls Har­bour. She said she loves the store, which she de­scribes as an in­sti­tu­tion in the com­mu­nity, and is glad to see the doors open again.

Schur­man re­mem­bers pil­ing into the store with kids who stayed in Halls Har­bour dur­ing the sum­mer. Owner Fred­er­ick Parker would call to his wife, Vilda, over the in­ter­com sys­tem to come down and dish out candy for the kids.

“I spent a lot of time in this store and for one sum­mer, Vilda was very busy and she got me to tend store for her, which was very nice,” Schur­man said. “I got to meet a lot of peo­ple from a lot of dif­fer­ent places and peo­ple were just amazed when they tried dulse for the first time.”

She said Fred­er­ick and Vilda are def­i­nitely missed and she is very glad to see that some­one from the com­mu­nity was will­ing to re­open the store and bring some of the nos­tal­gia back to the har­bour.

A fam­ily tra­di­tion

Store owner Craig Parker was on hand for the re­open­ing cel­e­bra­tion. He said the goods would come and go but the re­la­tion­ships forged would last for­ever.

The store has al­ways been a so­cial gath­er­ing spot for the com­mu­nity. He said Kil­lam and Spina­zola are go­ing to be fan­tas­tic shop keep­ers and would carry on the store’s tra­di­tion.

“Dick and Madonna are just amaz­ing peo­ple, they’ve done so much for the com­mu­nity over the years,” Parker said. “I’m just for­tu­nate that they were on board when I ap­proached them about this op­por­tu­nity and I know that they will carry on a tra­di­tion in line with what the store has meant to the har­bour.”

Parker said it means a lot to him to see the fish­ing vil­lage carry on as a com­mu­nity and the store adds a lot of value and char­ac­ter. Although he lives in Toronto with his fam­ily, he said his heart is in Halls Har­bour, which he con­sid­ers home and re­mains a big part of his life.

His great grand­fa­ther, Max Parker, first opened the gen­eral store. Parker’s grand­par­ents, Fred­er­ick and Vilda, took it over and ran it for many years. Af­ter Fred­er­ick passed away, Parker’s fa­ther, Gar­net, ran the store with his mother for about 10 years. At 89 years of age, his grand­mother had re­opened the store in May 2014, shortly be­fore she passed away.

“Hav­ing had my grand­mother pass a few years back now, it’s very pleas­ing to be able to open the doors to­day and carry on a tra­di­tion here in the har­bour that’s very unique,” Parker said.

He has sev­eral old records and jour­nals from the store and com­mu­nity. Parker would some­day like to see the mem­o­ra­bilia or­ga­nized and dis­played, per­haps in the store.

New man­agers ex­cited

Kil­lam, who has lived in Halls Har­bour since 1974, said he and Spina­zola are hon­oured to be en­trusted with the store and to be car­ry­ing on the tra­di­tion. They plan to stock the same items that peo­ple as­so­ciate with Parker’s, such as chips, pop, choco­late bars, penny candy and more. The new man­agers are open to sug­ges­tions if there are par­tic­u­lar items that peo­ple want.

Kil­lam, who will also be dis­play­ing and sell­ing his pho­tog­ra­phy there, said he is very ex­cited about the re­open­ing. The news gen­er­ated a lot of ex­cite­ment on Face­book, as well as a great sense of nos­tal­gia for many.

“It def­i­nitely has im­pacted the com­mu­nity over the years, just by the re­sponse we’re get­ting,” Kil­lam said “There are peo­ple com­ing in here who lived here when they were chil­dren and they’re well into their se­nior years now…I’m amazed by how it feels for peo­ple.”

Kil­lam fondly recalls vis­it­ing the store and chat­ting with Fred, Vilda, Gar­net and other mem­bers of the Parker fam­ily. He said there are lots of good mem­o­ries and stories as­so­ci­ated with it.

Spina­zola said it felt “ab­so­lutely awe­some” to see the store bustling again.

“There is so much sup­port and love in this com­mu­nity that it isn’t even funny,” she said. “It’s just like it’s meant to be.”

Spina­zola said the store is ex­tremely im­por­tant to Halls Har­bour. The over­whelm­ing sen­ti­ment is that peo­ple missed it and are very pleased that it will be open again. Peo­ple who used to visit as chil­dren to buy penny candy can now bring their grand­chil­dren to do the same.

Spina­zola said they’re tak­ing in art and craft work from tal­ented com­mu­nity mem­bers to sell on con­sign­ment and they’re car­ry­ing prints by Du­san Kadlec, rec­og­nized as one of Canada’s fore­most marine and his­tor­i­cal artists. He has been com­mis­sioned to paint sev­eral har­bours over the years in­clud­ing Halls Har­bour.

Spina­zola said they would be open daily from 10 a.m. to sunset, prob­a­bly tak­ing a break at some point dur­ing the day. She said they would leave a note on the door to let peo­ple know, just as Vilda used to do. They plan to re­main open un­til late Oc­to­ber or early Novem­ber and they’ll re­open in early May. Spina­zola said they might host a “Christ­mas in the har­bour” event in De­cem­ber.

KIRK STARRATT

Craig Parker and Dick Kil­lam shake hands af­ter re­mov­ing the pa­per from the Parker’s Gen­eral Store sign. The com­mu­nity of Halls Har­bour cel­e­brated the re­open­ing of the iconic com­mu­nity land­mark.

KIRK STARRATT

New man­agers Dick Kil­lam and Madonna Spina­zola and owner Craig Parker pose for a photo at the newly re­opened Parker’s Gen­eral Store in Halls Har­bour.

KIRK STARRATT

Madonna Spina­zola dishes out penny candy, a long-time sta­ple at Parker’s Gen­eral Store in Halls Har­bour.

KIRK STARRATT

Craig Parker and Madonna Spina­zola hang the “open” flag as Parker’s Gen­eral Store in Halls Har­bour is of­fi­cially re­opened

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