In the early settler years of Maple Ridge, a familiar set of businesses were the first to come in – the industries like brickyards, logging, the railroad, as well as the banks, general stores, and post offices.
One of those early businesses is often overlooked – the confectionery.
It is hard to believe, but the arrival of industry and settler communities were almost always accompanied by a business selling sweet treats.
As their primary audience, the confectionery stores would move into settler communities as soon as there were children in the market. Their big draw was selling ice cream, quite an accomplishment and treat in the time before refrigeration.
But they also sold penny candies, chocolates, and eventually hit the market of soda fountains, a big draw for the first half of the 20th Century.
The first confectionery and place to buy sweet treats in the area was Wilsons Confectionery in Port Hammond. We know that the building was there as far back as 1909.
It stuck around through the years and eventually became Maddens Confectionery in the late 1920s, changing hands again and becoming Davies Confectionery through the 1960s.
Due to the limited buildings and materials in the early years, the confectioneries of Port Hammond, Port Haney, and Whonnock served dual purposes, acting as a candy shop and local hang out spot.
Wilson’s in Port Hammond doubled as a pool hall and Luno’s Confectionery in Whonnock doubled as a gas bar and truck stop for early logging trucks.
The early marketing of these confectioneries was aimed at children, a technique that has not changed over the years.
In Haney, the confectionery shop was built deliberately next to the high school to target the youth crowd. In a not so subtle 1941 grand opening announcement, it advertised the location opposite the high school and that “Confectionery, Candy, and School Supplies” were for sale.
This confectionery was quickly renamed Handy Candy and eventually became the Swing Inn.
Though we still have candy stores today, these early confectioneries wouldn’t go on to become the odd candy shop around town. They were always multipurpose buildings, a place where you could get a light lunch, play pool, get school supplies, and an ice cream.
Today, their legacy can be seen more in the convenience store, a place that has a lot of sweets and a little bit of everything else.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of sweet treats, the Maple Ridge Museum and Historical Society are hosting “The History of and Culinary Art of Chocolate” for our free Speaking of Art and History series. The talk will be May 9, 7 p.m. at the ACT and will include chocolate samples to explore the history of chocolate with your taste buds.
Shea Henry is curator of the Maple