W.T. Reid Interview: 0050.0968
PROMINENT CITIZENS – W. T. Reid is not only a pioneer of Cranbrook, but he is also a latter day pioneer of East Kootenay, as he was the first man to put in a general stock of goods in Wardner. Mr. Reid was born 45 years ago in a little village in Ontario near Brockville, but as he was a son of a Methodist minister, who under the rules of their conference, are compelled to move often, he has little or no recollection of his birth place, and as he naively remarked, “I was quite young at the time of my birth and retain no vivid impressions of the village in which I first saw the light of day.” His youth was spent in living in many places and taking advantage of all the opportunities presented for securing an education. Everything east of Toronto was called Eastern Ontario, while the territory west of Toronto was known as Western Ontario, and his younger days were spent in Western Ontario. His mind seemed inclined to a commercial career and when 17 years of age he took a position as clerk in a store in Listowell, Ont., where he passed through all the hardships incident to the life of a young man who first starts in business and is anxious to learn all that is possible about the line that he has marked out in life. After three years of work in Listowell, feeling that the field was limited and the need of a more varied experience, Mr. Reid went to Port Perry to take a position in a large departmental store. After some time in that establishment he engaged in business in his own behalf and met with satisfactory success. After five years residence in Port Perry he like many others in Ontario became impressed with the possibilities of Manitoba and arranged to go into business in Neepawa, at that time the garden spot of that province, with a record of one million bushels of wheat marketed in one year. Neepawa is an Indian name meaning “plenty” and it seems that it was well chosen. Mr. Reid remained in business in that town until his health failed and the doctors said that it would be necessary for him to seek a location with a less rigorous climate. With this idea in view he started for California by way of the Canadian pacific, but as G.B. McDermitt of Golden was an old time friend he stopped off there for a day or two. Little things sometimes change one’s whole course of life. Mr. McDermitt was desirous of taking a trip east and he prevailed upon Mr. Reid to remain in Golden and take care of the business for a few months. It was during this period that Mr. Reid got in touch with the construction of the Crows Nest line, and within a few weeks he took a trip to Wardner by stage. On the same seat with him was E.H. Small, and as they got better acquainted Mr. Reid laid out his plans and Mr. Small, who had just sold out the hotel business at Canal Flats, accepted the proposition to go on to Wardner with Mr. Reid. There the deal was made for a lot and the construction of a building and Mr. Reid hurried back to Golden and then went to Calgary where he met a traveling man and purchased his stock. It was in October that the first visit was made to Wardner and it was some three months later before the goods, which had to be shipped by the way of Kalispell, Mont., arrived at Wardner. Mr. Small remained in charge of the store until February, when Mr. Reid returned and then divided the stock and sent Mr. Small to Moyie to establish a branch. On August first, 1898, Mr. Reid came to Cranbrook and bought a small store that was being run by A.K. Leitch. That was Mr. Reid’s beginning in Cranbrook. Later he closed out all of his branch stores and concentrated his efforts on his business in Cranbrook, and as a result he is now occupying the largest store in the district and enjoying a magnificent trade. His new store building, which has just been completed, is a handsome structure with lots of room to display his large stock. Since coming to Cranbrook Mr. Reid, by strict attention to business and studying the wants of people, has built up a business that is a monument to his energy and ability. He has one of the finest homes in the city and a happy family, and enjoys the confidence and respect of a large circle of friends.