Consumers Co-operative

Reprinted with permission from the book Hodge’s Cove by Eric Stringer, 2011

4th and Final building

Hodge’s Cove Consumers Co-operative Society

In the spring of 1937 while Sam Drover (1911-2005) was a teacher in Howley, White Bay, he received a copy of an Act that the Commission of Government had passed relating to various forms of Rural Development. He was invited along with others around the island to attend school in St. John’s that summer, all expenses paid, to study co-operatives (among other things). The school lasted for about six weeks.

At the end of that school, Sam was asked by the Director of Rural Reconstruction, Gerald Richards, to go out and try to get people to organize themselves in their communities. In the fall of 1937, along with a number of field workers Sam called meetings for several study clubs in Hodge’s Cove in which the ideas of credit unions, co-operatives, etc. would be considered. These deliberations must have had an immediate effect. In the following year many of the community’s leading citizens had produced and shipped to Ayre and Sons in St. John’s a quantity of birch nugs and other forestry products. The money they collected from this effort was used to purchase stock for their very first co-operative store.

The Co-op in Hodge’s Cove was housed in four different buildings from its beginning in 1938 until its eventual closing in 1980.

[The term manager herein should be considered as the person next down in line of authority from the Board of Directors. In many cases, (s)he served as clerk as well.) In the first building, near where Eliab Smith’s old house once stood, the only manager was Alice Smith (mother of Eliab, Ida Drover, Rachel Drodge, et al].

The next building to house the Co-op was located near the home of Mr. Abijah Peddle (where Helen Peddle now lives). The four managers in this building, in order, were Gladys Peddle, Eleazer Hiscock, Stephen Dodge, and Gwendolyn Curtis.

The next Co-op was located across the road from the previous one. It was owned by Cecil Peddle, who used it as a workshop. It was built by Andrew Peddle, the first time wages had been paid for the construction of a Hodge’s Cove Co-op. The first manager of this store, which was much larger than either of the other two, was Gwendolyn Curtis. Following Ms Curtis as manager were Robert Drover, James Drover, Nelson Peddle, and William J. Peddle. It was during the life of this building that another, known as The Factory (actually an old house owned by Jim Hiscock which had been floated from its original site at the lower beach), was moved to and set up at the upper beach directly under the hill from the Co-op store. The Factory, property of the Co-op, was used primarily for barreling mackerel and herring, as well as for other related activities.

Even that third Co-op building, as large as it was, was not adequate to serve the ever-increasing demand from its membership. And so it was decided that yet another building was required. It became the structure that, until 1990, stood between George Churchill’s house and the road. Its first manager was William J. Peddle[i] who served for approximately fifteen years. Other managers of that store were Clarence Smith, Fred Drover, Chesley Tucker, and Bettie Russell.

The Co-op in Hodge’s Cove was a valued institution for about fifty years. It gave its members an opportunity to share in their own business and to have returned to them an amount proportionate to their spending.

At one stage in its history, the Hodge’s Cove Consumers Co-operative Society dealt in all sorts of goods: groceries, hardware, dry goods, fish, lumber, and so on. But eventually, with the opening of other stores in Hodge’s Cove and in neighboring communities, and with more modern transportation facilities coming into being, there came a subsequent decline in membership. Business began to wane. Maintaining the Co-op’s success was becoming increasingly more challenging.

Inevitably, it died.

 

[i]It was during Mr. Peddle’s tenure that a Delco, forerunner to a modern-day generator, was purchased and used to power deep-freezes, electric lights, etc.