Oliver’s Main Street…Shrinking Each Year
They say that progress goes forward but looking at Main Street in Oliver, I think it has regressed. When I was growing up in the 1950’s, Oliver had everything you could possibly want to buy.
I remember most of the businesses but I admit I may have missed a few and they are not in order. There was the Friendly Corner and up above was the dental office of Dr. Heal and the medical offices of Drs. White and Stebnick and a couple of apartments. Mr. Silva had a small shoe repair store and did a booming business; The Oliver Credit Union, Echlin Insurance (later), a large lumber yard, the Bowling Alley and Scott’s Dry Cleaning. There was the Bank of Commerce, SO Supply Harry Green Men’s Wear, Brown’s Bakery,Royal Bank of Canada, Kreller’s Shoe Store, Cranna Jeweller’s, Rexall Drug Store, a grocery store owned by Ken and Ken; Coy’s Meats, Overwaitea, the Orchard Café, Oliver Hardware (Fairweather), Pugh and Tait Insurance and Robinson’s Clothing Store plus many others that I am sure I have missed.
We had the Oliver Theatre, the Oliver Chronicle, Cook’s Grocery Store, Dr. Bridgeman’s office and home, the Reopel Hotel, Shell Gas Station; White’s Meats and Lockers, Marshall Wells, Chester Hutton Barber shop, Kay’s Beauty Salon, Itterman’s Shoe Store, The Oliver Hotel, Stedmans, Jack’s Cafe, Collen’s Department Store, Hub Billiards which had a pool room downstairs; George Ronald’s Barber Shop and a Magazine Store; IGA Food Basket and Tuck’s Café. Before Stedman’s was the Taxi business of Mr. Becker (Joe Barillaro’s father in law) and later Don Becker’s Taxi and Greyhound Depot was just up from the Dry Cleaners. Stedman’s not only sold clothes but shoes, records, books, dishes and had a Christmas Wonderland every year as did Collen’s who also sold material as well as clothing for all ages. All these businesses were in just two city blocks.
Now, some 60 years later, we have many empty storefronts and four very large HOLES from the the Petrocan Lot, Oliver Hotel, Collen’s Department Store and Sabyan Garage.
When I was growing up we had no need to go to Penticton and I believe that if some of these businesses made a come back, we would find less people leaving town. The other major factor is we are a community of many Seniors who would love to shop at home and not have to worry about finding rides to Penticton or depend on friends to get them there.
I do not know what the answer is, I admit that freely, I just miss the businesses we had and the friendly atmosphere that existed in our small town at the time. I know times change but we seem to have stepped backwards in time.
Just my opinion..not trying to rankle anyone or ruffle any feathers! Please feel free to comment politely and mention any that I have missed and what memories you have too.