VanTuyl and Fairbank to close its doors after 154 years

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Charles Fairbank and his son, Charlie Jr., during the 150th anniversary celebration in 2015

Petrolia’s oldest business is closing its door.

VanTuyl and Fairbank, which started in 1865 and is the oldest family-owned hardware store in Canada, will close this fall when its long-time manager, Theresa MacDonald retires.

“It is with a heavy heart we announce this closing,” said Charlie Fairbank in a news release. Hehas owned the business since his father’s death in 1982. “My great-grandfather, John Henry Fairbank, started this store before Petrolia was founded and before the King Wells triggered Petrolia’s oil rush.

“When it opened before Confederation, this area was known as Canada West. It has withstood the fear of Fenian raids, diminishing oil, two world wars, the Great Depression, fires, floods and new technology,” said Fairbank. “But today, the market is forever changed and we are unable to survive. With wonderful managers we miraculously survived as long as we have. We’ve been keeping customers happy for 154 years and that’s an achievement.”

John H. Fairbank first opened as a general store at the bottom of the east end hill, supplying local oil producers. He then opened up a store exclusive to oil producers. Four generations of Fairbanks have owned the store – Charles Fairbank Sr. managed it himself from 1931 to 1982.

For more on the story, see the Aug. 8 edition of The Independent.

10 Responses to “VanTuyl and Fairbank to close its doors after 154 years”

  1. Carol Graham

    Such sad news. This historic business is so much a part of Petrolia with wonderful old-fashioned customer service. It will be greatly missed.

  2. Marianne

    You will truly be missed by so many in this area.
    Your name is an icon and will go down in history.
    A very sad time.

  3. Ken

    Sad day for the oil men sad day for petrolia. Thank Charlie and his family for running a unique and great hardware all these years
    Ken girard

  4. Lan Evoy

    Charlie, what am amazing feat – 154 years! A never to be repeated continuous service to the community and an important part of the commercial and social history of Petrolia.

  5. Dina McPhee

    Sad news indeed.
    The end of an era.
    Congratulations on 154 successful years!
    A rare and wonderful achievement that speaks loudly of your qualities.
    And Happy Retirment to Theresa!

  6. Jennifer Stapleton

    It’s such sad news that your store is closing after all this time. You will be missed in the community. I remember going in there as a kid with my folks to get certain items for the farm.

  7. Laurel Park

    I loved going over to the hardware store. I will miss the business and all the staff.

  8. Brenton

    It was a store that if you needed a part and didn’t know where to look you looked there because they had everything I’m sad to see it go but what a ride!!

  9. Tom Falconer

    He was a great landlord too when I was with Petrolia Police Services back in the 70’s.