Carroll’s drugstore, established in 1930, by two brothers, Evans and Russell Carroll, at the time they were building the Macadonis Block. The famous corner not only housed Carroll’s drugstore but a shoe repair business, an insurance company called Dryden and Bates, a lawyer and a hairdresser. Before the Carroll’s operated the drugstore in the building, there was an ice cream parlor with a soda fountain in the spot. The building itself was supposed to be a four-story building but because of lack of money it only became a two-story building or so says Donald Ferguson who bought Carroll’s Drugstore from the brothers in 1961.
Donald Ferguson remembers working at the drugstore, as a teen in the fifties while the Carroll brothers owned the store. Once he decided that he was going to be a pharmacist, he attended Dalhousie Pharmacy School and graduated in 1958. Mr. Ferguson worked in Halifax for a few years before moving home. He was working at one of the hospitals in Glace Bay at the time when the Carroll brothers were getting ready to retire and so asked Donald if he would like to buy the business from them. He said yes and the rest as they say was history.
One of the changes, he recalls from 1960’s to today were changes to the healthcare system. First with the “check-off” system of the miners where the cost of the prescription would come off your pay, followed by Seniors Pharmacare to eventually the Medicare system we have today. Later on Private Insurance companies began covering medications in the early 1970’s. Drug stores became bigger with the advent of Lourdes and Shoppers Drugmart moving in on the territory of the smaller drug stores like Carroll’s, Medical Hall and Black Diamond Pharmacy.
Donald Ferguson, in his time running the drug store maintained a community connection. He was involved in school sports with his kids, he was on the school board for years, he was active in United Appeal, and different things that took place in the community. “You were part and parcel of the community.” When he retired from the drugstore business in 1992, he sold to Shoppers Drugmart. David, his son, following in his father’s footsteps opened up a small pharmacy in town named Ferguson’s, which is in the Sterling today.
Donald’s greatest memory of running a business in the town of Glace Bay was that it was like a “focal point.” There were a group of people consisting of doctors, lawyers, etc. who would gather at the drugstore on some mornings and tell stories. “I don’t know if they were all true or not,” he says, “but they knew the history of the whole town, everything that went on there, and they would just talk.” The biggest mistake he ever made, he muses, is that he did not record those stories for posterity.
Another great memory of running Carroll’s Drug Store is that he never let anyone go without medication whether they could pay for it or not. Commercial Street was bustling with businesses that were all “mom and pop” type stores save for Dominion and Eaton’s. Once those businesses closed there was no one left to continue the family owned businesses. Donald remembers the day Kmart opened on the 11th of June 1964, Davis Day. He feels they opened the store purposefully on that day to attract all the people from Glace Bay away from the town to shop. I think it’s been down hill from there with most people from the Bay doing a large part of there shopping at places outside Glace Bay like Kmart, The Mayflower Mall, Zellers, Target, and of course Wal-Mart.
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