LOOK BACK: McVicar’s drug store in Port Alberni

Merwyn McVicar was a pharmacist and an artist

This photo, circa 1950, shows the interior of McVicar’s Drug Store on Third Avenue near Argyle Street. Merwyn McVicar designed the store’s interior and it won first place for store design in a North American competition in the 1950s. From left to right are Lenore Falke, Merwyn McVicar, Margaret Shirbath, Betty Richardson and Merwyn’s wife Bertha McVicar. This photo is one of 24,000 contained in the Alberni Valley Museum’s digital archives at portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN13493 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)

This photo, circa 1950, shows the interior of McVicar’s Drug Store on Third Avenue near Argyle Street. Merwyn McVicar designed the store’s interior and it won first place for store design in a North American competition in the 1950s. From left to right are Lenore Falke, Merwyn McVicar, Margaret Shirbath, Betty Richardson and Merwyn’s wife Bertha McVicar. This photo is one of 24,000 contained in the Alberni Valley Museum’s digital archives at portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN13493 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)

McVicar’s Drug Store in Port Alberni was located mid-block on the east side of Third Avenue, between Angus and Argyle Streets.

Pharmacist Merwyn McVicar came to Port Alberni in 1933 to work for Wilson’s drug store, and eventually opened his own store on Third Avenue. In her book, Twin Cities: Alberni-Port Alberni, Jan Peterson recalls that the store was large, with a dispensary and living quarters for McVicar. The store was connected to doctors’ offices upstairs by dumbwaiter and by telephone.

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Along with his job as a pharmacist, Merwyn McVicar was also an accomplished painter and a founder of the Alberni Valley Art Group. When he designed the store’s interior, he used the colours turquoise and rose to show his “artistic flair,” said Peterson. McVicar’s drug store won first place for store design in a North American competition in the 1950s.

McVicar’s was also the first home of Port Alberni’s public library. The library opened in 1936 and operated out of the back of the store. McVicar’s store employees doubled as library attendants.

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McVicar later moved his drug store into the Port Alberni Medical building on Ninth Avenue.

Port Alberni