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A History of Squibb's Stationers

by Suri Weinberg-Linsky

 

Arthur T. Squibb began his career as a Proprietor of Stationery in England during the late 1800s after learning the trade at his family’s store.  After working in a prestigious stationers in London, he set out on his own in St Leonard’s-by-the-Sea, England. 

 

In the early 1920s, Arthur, wife Cary and son Gordon decided to leave England, immigrating to Canada. Looking for a business they could run similar to that they left in England, they found the perfect ‘situation’ in the Town of Weston, a hamlet north of Toronto called Richardson’s at 54 Main Street (which later became Weston Road).  Upon purchasing the store on May 5th, 1927, they made it their own and renamed it A.T. Squibb Stationery and Books.

 

They settled into their life in Weston and, with their son Gordon, ran the business together.  In December of 1935, they had the opportunity to move the store a few doors south into the southern half of a large house that had belonged to a local doctor but had been converted to a commercial property in 1926 upon his retirement.

 

So just before Christmas of that year, they moved to their new ‘commodious’ location at 48 Main Street, which later became 1974 Weston Road.  By this time, they were the purveyors of various products, including textbooks, office and school supplies, magazines, tobacco, candies and even ice cream. 

 

If you needed something, you came to Squibb’s!  During this period, they became the ‘go-to’ store for all items relating to school – textbooks and supplies with line-ups down the street every September. There are still customers who remember lining up!

 

The 1930’s were lean times but the 1940’s brought better fortunes and the store thrived. By 1954, Arthur had passed away and Gordon had now taken over the business with his mother.  They carried on, continuing to build the business and with the good times of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s the store’s reputation grew.  Gordon was very involved in the community of Weston sitting on the local ‘businessmen’s association’.

 

In 1972, all that changed with Gordon’s illness and he was forced to sell the business.  A Mr. Wood bought the store and kept the name but decided to make some changes to the front of the store.  He only had the business a short 3 years before he also decided to sell and he in turn sold it to the Janetakes family who bought it for their son, Mike, a graphic artist, to run. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for him either and they in turn sold it to Jack and Marilyn Weinberg on April 10, 1980.  A new era for Squibb’s was born.

 

Jack and Marilyn had recently sold their store at Yonge and Lawrence but were looking for a new situation for themselves.  An ad in the paper brought them in to look at this different type of business (they had owned a traditional variety and cigar shop) but they immediately felt at home in the stationery business having had experience with school and art supplies at the previous store. 

 

That first summer, their oldest daughter, Suri, who had worked in their old store, came to help out, setting the stage for down the road. As they became familiar with the business and the community, they grew to love their new store and the people who came in to greet them. 

 

The 1980s were very good for them and the store.

 

By the early 1990s, business was changing, but Jack and Marilyn made sure that the store continued on, although they were contemplating selling. Sadly, in 1995, Marilyn became gravely ill and soon passed away, leaving Jack to run the store.

 

Again, I decided that she would come to help her dad run the store, having had a great deal of experience in other retail settings and having worked at Squibb’s throughout the years.

 

As the years went by, Jack also began to slow down and generally left the day-to-day running of the store to myself until he too became ill in 2000, passing away in early 2001. 

 

So for the last 20 plus years since that sad time, I had run Squibb’s with the help of my husband Mike, carrying on the great tradition started by Arthur and Cary Squibb in 1927 and her own parents from 1980. 

 

Our goal is to keep to the ideology of being small, independent business owners servicing their clients across the GTA and even beyond with clients in Italy, the US, and the Caribbean.  Our main business is still the educational market and are proud to be able to say we are the oldest, independent bookseller in Toronto working with one of Canada’s largest private schools.  

 

We still keep in touch with the children of Gordon and Iris Squibb as well as one of their grandchildren, Gordon, who is named for his grandfather, and we sell his family’s organic honey named Squibb’s Bees

 

We are thrilled to be working with the great-great grandkids of Arthur and Cary Squibb!  We think they would be very proud.

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Cary Squibb, circa 1933.

Photo of Cary Squibb, circa 1933. The original location of Squibb's was at 54 Main Street, which is now 1984 Weston Road. In 1935, Arthur Squibb decided to move to a newer, more commodious store a few doors south at 48 Main Street. Still in this location at 1974 Weston Road, we have just celebrated 81 years in Weston Village.

Home and offices of Dr. Irwin at 48 Main Street, circa 1900. The home was split in two in 1925/26 and turned into two commercial properties.  The original Squibb’s store was in the white building just north of the house from 1927 to 1935 which had also been converted to a commercial property.  Squibb’s moved south to its current location in December of 1935.

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