History

Dykeman's Hardware & Marine began as a dream.  A dream of 23 year old Ralph G. Dykeman. He wanted to open a feed, flour and grocery store.


Ralph had moved from Jemseg and opened his shop on Adelaide Street in Saint John on April 20, 1911.  The Opening Inventory Book shows the store started off with $233.30 of inventory in stock.  


Many of the company's clients were farmers from the Kingston Peninsula.  During the early days of the business clients from the Kingston Peninsula had to plan for a 2 day trip when they went to Dykeman's Hardware.  The trip included a ferry crossing, an overnight stay in a hotel then the trip home with their farming supplies the next day.  The hardware store had a barn area to house their customers' teams of horses.  The store moved from feed and flower to hardware when they realized a higher margin could be made from selling a tin pail compared to a 100lb bag of flour.


These same farmers and long-time customers have told Dykeman family members that "During the Depression years, if it hadn’t been for Ralph, they wouldn’t have been able to feed their kids.”  Ralph was always willing to help anyone in need.  If they were willing to help themselves then he would do what he could to help them.


With a Grade 5 education, and a passion for wearing suits, Ralph was known as a staple of the community.  His life revolved around his work, his family and his church.  He worked at Dykeman's Hardware from 1911 until he passed away in 1971.  


Dykeman's Hardware has been in business through many historic events:  World War 1, World War 2, the Great Depression, the Korean War, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and the 50th anniversary of the Coronation, the start of Rock and Roll, the invention of computers, the Ground Hog Gale, the tragedy of 9-11 and many more events.  The list could go on and on.


The company has survived two fires: one in 1962 and the other in 1977.  After the 1977 fire, the store was temporarily moved into the business’ warehouse.  To help the family get back into business, dozens of volunteers would show up each night to help with cleaning and moving.  This was true community spirit.


Three generations of the Dykeman Family have worked at the store since it opened in 1911.   Ralph's daughter married Douglas Shaw and after he was discharged from the army at the end of the Second World War, he started working at the store.  This began the store's complete shift towards hardware.  Douglas' son, Don began working at the store in 1967.  He wanted to incorporate his passion for boating by starting a Marine Hardware Section.  This is something his brother Bob helped expand when he joined the family business in 1977.  


The family’s close relationship has always been an asset which has helped keep the business going for 103 years.


Dykeman's Hardware has been recognized for their longevity and community involvement.  They have received numerous awards including: 3 Golden Hammer Awards and community service awards from the City of Saint John and North End Associations.


The new owners, long-time customers of the store, are keeping the Dykeman name.  They recognize the history and service the Dykeman family brought to Saint John and will continue to do the same with their commitment to provide good service, competitive pricing and strong product knowledge.


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