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.