Few stores there are in Canada which have been doing business for over 60 years, and still fewer are those in which the founder still takes an interest in the way things are going. Grimsby has such a store - Farrell's Shoe Store and the story of this business is best told by giving the life story of John C. Farrell coupled with a little history of Grimsby's growth and progress. John C. Farrell, who still on fine days can be found in his store talking things over with the boys was born in the State of Pennsylvania, the son of Patrick and Mrs. Farrell, who had just come over from the "ould sod". The family moved to Hamilton 71 years ago, then to Waterdown and a few months later to Grimsby. Grimsby in those days was mostly wilderness but was even then a busy little place, four saloons, three stores and one church being located here. Mr. Farrell started to learn the shoe business with the late Joe Whittaker whose shop was just opposite where Mayor Marsh now lives. Mr. Whittaker later moved to where the Council Chambers now stand - Mr. Sam Whittaker was also an apprentice in this shop at the same time.
John C. Farrell, having learned his trade, then accepted a position in St. Catharines where he remained 10 months; then he opened a shop out in Grassies, remaining there one year after which he moved ... Depot Street. Business in those days was naturally conducted along... (illegible) A pair of shoes were exactly alike and so that they would stay alike, they were worn on alternate feet alternate days - the shoe worn on the right foot today would be on the left tomorrow and vice versa. Money was scarce in those days, a sort of bartering being the usual thing. A man would bring in his own leather, having had a hide or two tanned, would have his measure taken and upon completion of the shoes would make payment in hay, oats, corn, buckwheat, pork, beef or other produce. John C. Farrell remained in the Depot St. store for 22 years, then moved to the present store's location on Main Street a little over 36 years ago. As time wore on John C. devoted most of his attention to the repairing end of the business, his son Will assuming the management which after his death C.T. Farrell took over and has been carrying on since.
For years the old back shop of Farrell's Shoe Store was the common meeting ground of the stalwarts of the community. Mr. Farrell, although never in civic office, has always taken an active part in the affairs of the community and many a Reeve and Council has been nominated and elected in the "old back shop". Such leading men as the late W.F. Clarke, the late Jas. Doran and many others were regular visitors at the shop and the pros and cons of municipal affairs were always well brought out.
John C. Farrell has had the satisfaction of seeing his little cobbling shop grow into what is acknowledged to be the best shoe shop in the best district in Canada - the Grimsby Fruit Belt. A willingness to serve, a personal interest in each customer and a square deal to everyone has been the keynote of his success. He has helped and watched Grimsby grow from a wilderness to a thriving prosperous town, and through all the hardships and strife of the early days ...was ably assisted and cheered on by his good wife... days with her husband in the Golden Sunset of life in health, happiness and prosperity.
Mr. Farrell on the 3rd day of January last passed the 81st milestone, while Mrs. Farrell has seen the snows and suns of 76 years. This happy old couple are still hale and hearty and retain all their faculties. They are always pleased to see old friends and have looked forward to renewing many old acquaintances during the Old Boys and Girls Reunion.