Dr. Walter A. Strapp, a local physician, opened Strapp’s Pharmacy on August 31, 1900. The business was located at the corner of Bannerman St and Water St. Edward D. Freeman, 14 years old, went to work there for Strapp in 1900. Six years later, in 1906, Strapp appointed Freeman pharmacy manager. Freeman operated the drugstore for several decades thereafter, developing the business into an important point of interest and information on Water St. As Patrick Collins writes in Dr. Charles Cron (2010), his biography of the well known local doctor, Strapp was “esteemed as a wonderful physician.” He began practicing with Cron when the latter returned to Harbour Grace from McGill. Though Strapp was doing well in his later years, he fell over a steep set of stairs and was never the same after. He died on April 2, 1918.
At some point before 1932, a new building was constructed (or renovated) on the site of Strapp’s original pharmacy. This new building featured a turret overhanging the entrance – a prominent landmark on Water St to this day. Across the street stood the former Government Building, the brick-and-stone structure which housed the Post Office and a telegraph office. Tragically, a great fire on August 17, 1944, gutted this grand edifice, and its shell remained on Water St for over twenty years before its final demolition. Fortunately, Strapp’s Pharmacy survived the 1944 fire and continued normal operations.
A prominent man in town, Freeman was deeply involved in community life. Notably, he served as chairman of the Harbour Grace Fire Sufferers’ Relief Committee, which raised $61,000 to help those who had homes and possessions. He was also treasurer of the Knights of Columbus, president of the Tennis Club, a member of the Harbour Grace Regatta Committee, and a former town councillor. The September 7, 1962, edition of the Daily News, a St. John’s newspaper, noted that Freeman, “although 76 years old[,]…is at his desk every day and always has time to chat with friends and visitors.” Rex Sinyard apprenticed under Freeman, later opening a pharmacy shop at the bottom of Victoria St. In the 1970s, Dr. Joseph Dunn operated Strapp’s.
The Strapp’s Pharmacy building still stands on Water St, Harbour Grace. Today, it’s Easton 1602 Pub.
Receipts from Strapp’s Pharmacy
Our collection of receipts from Strapp’s Pharmacy are dated 1924, 1925, 1934 and 1935. There are 106 receipts in the collection, 103 signed for “Mr. Oscar Howell” (1934-35) and 3 signed for “Mr. Jos. [Joseph] Fitzgerald” (1924-25). As the company header indicates, by at least 1925 Strapp’s Pharmacy operated as a Rexall Store, a chain of pharmacies still in existence. As a Rexall affiliate, the pharmacy sold “drugs, toilet articles, stationery, cigars, garden seeds, rubber goods, ice cream and soda, [and] candy.” The above pictured receipt, numbered 4, is dated October 21, 1935. Though the handwriting is difficult to read, 100 aspirin, the first purchased item, cost $0.25 at Strapp’s in 1935. The customer’s total is $3.20.
These receipts were recently found stored at the Harbour Grace Railway Station (donor unknown). Look for them to be displayed in The Landing this summer, alongside our equipment from Dr. Goodwin’s dentistry.
One of the later owners of Strapp’s store, Kevin Williams, converted the space into Cuff’s Pub. Williams also has a number of receipts from pharmacy. In conversations, he noted Oscar Howell as a frequent purchaser in his collection of receipts. As well, he possesses the McGill University degree of Dr. Gerald Anthony Strapp (pictured below), Walter Strapp’s son. Williams found the degree inside the old pharmacy.
Other items and advertisements from Strapp’s can be seen below.
More importantly, do you have any memories or further information regarding Strapp’s Pharmacy at the corner of Bannerman St and Water St, Harbour Grace? Contact us!
Sources & Further Information
Collins, Patrick J. Dr. Charles Cron: A Doctor for All Time, A Man Who Cured Our Hearts. Bowmark, 2010. Print.
Connelly, R.J. “Strapp’s Pharmacy.” Story of Harbour Grace, 1980. Print.
“Harbour Grace Steeped in History.” Daily News, St. John’s, September 7, 1962. Print.
— Written by Matthew Gerard McCarthy (Communications Officer) for the Conception Bay Museum, Harbour Grace.