You can step into the past Friday, as Van Tuyl and Fairbank Hardware marks its 150th anniversary.
Van Tuyl and Fairbank Hardware is the oldest business in Petrolia and the oldest family-owened hardware store in Canada. When Petrolia supplied 90 per cent of Canada’s oil, the store was the biggest of its kind west of Toronto. Charlie Fairbank is now the fourth generation to run the business.
On Friday, July 10, there will be guided tours through the half-acre store starting at 11am and finishing at 8 in the evening. You will see everything from some of the first advertising for the store located in Petrolia C.W. or Canada West as this area was known before Confederation. There is plenty of memoriablia including an antique cash register, a Fairbank Fire Extinquisher and the Fairbank Electric Tea Pot.
The tours will offer visitors a sneak-peak to parts of the store not open to the public including the steel room where anyone can get pipe and steel cut any length. Visitors will get to see how the steel is cut, how pipe is threaded and how a Hossfeld Bender can bend metal.
And you’ll see the solar energy business that is now part of the Fairbank group of companies.
“More than a store, this is a business that encapsulates the whole history of the town and is as unique as a thumbprint,” says Pat McGee, who has written a book about Van Tuyl and Fairbank and will be running some of the tours.