Oshawa’s John Beaton

The photograph below is of JE Beaton’s store at 27-29 Simcoe Street South; the date of the photograph is unknown.  John Sidey Beaton was the proprietor, who was born in Pickering Village in 1857, and moved to Oshawa in 1872.  He moved to Oshawa in 1872 and entered into the grocery business by working for the Steele Briggs Grocery and Seed Business.  This store was located at 13 King Street West, next to the Central Hotel.  John was paid $65.00 per month for his labour.  With this salary, he built himself a home, and on February 8, 1883 he married Jennie Elizabeth Gibson.  Together they raised two sons, Robert Roy and John Hector.

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After working as a bookkeeper with the Oshawa Stove Company, Beaton returned to Steele Briggs before establishing his own grocery, seed and china retail business.  This store was originally located at 27-29 Simcoe Street South, on the east side of the street.  The business flourished until it was struck by two disasters.  First, the store suffered a damaging fire, which resulted in the relocation of the business to the old Steele Briggs store while the restoration of Beaton’s took place.  Following this, Beaton’s store encountered financial difficulties and went bankrupt.  These events proved to only be minor setbacks, as the Beaton’s picked up the pieces and reestablished their business under the name J.E. Beaton (after John Sidey Beaton’s wife, Jennie).

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Beaton’s experience in the retail business allowed him to gain a large amount of knowledge in tea blending, china and groceries.  He specialized in high class merchandise such as china, quality foodstuffs and seeds.  The store dealt with both wholesale and retail, and offered a large variety of merchandise ranging from teas, coffees, and baking goods to glassware, china and crockery.  The store eventually adopted the name “Beaton’s Busy Store” with the motto “You Can’t Beat Beaton’s.”

The Beaton’s store was popular in the Oshawa area, known for its quality merchandise and friendly, helpful environment.  The customers were always happily welcomed and served with a smile.  A 1909 newspaper clipping stated that “Mr. Beaton . . . is one of our most courteous and affable citizens and has the confidence and esteem of all with whom he does business.”  John Sidey Beaton loved the grocery industry as well as conversing with and helping people.  It was his engaging and inviting personality and his knowledge of the business that allowed the Beaton store to establish a faithful customer base in Oshawa.

The Beaton family also took part in the retail grocery business.  Jennie assisted in the store and maintained the books while their son Robert Roy clerked and eventually took the position of manager.  The Beaton’s store was popular in the Oshawa area, known for its quality merchandise and friendly, helpful environment.  The customers were always happily welcomed and served with a smile.  A 1909 newspaper clipping stated that “Mr. Beaton . . . is one of our most courteous and affable citizens and has the confidence and esteem of all with whom he does business.” John Sidey Beaton loved the grocery industry as well as conversing with and helping people.  It was his engaging and inviting personality and his knowledge of the business that allowed the Beaton store to establish a faithful customer base in Oshawa.

The store was maintained until 1929, when it was liquidated in response to the rising competition of supermarkets and other retail outlets.  John Sidey Beaton passed away shortly after, in 1931, following several strokes and a lengthy illness.  While a well known business man, John was also very involved in community organizations in Oshawa.  He was a Master of Lebanon Masonic Lodge, a member of the Shrine, the Sons of Scotland, the Independent Order of Oddfellows, the Thirty Club of Oshawa and the Rotary Club, as well as an avid supporter of St. Andrew’s United Church. He is buried with his wife Jennie in Union Cemetery in Oshawa.

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