Barber Curtis Lovett, centre, gives an unnamed customer a shave while Walter C. Hamly, right, observes at O.K. Barber Shop on the northeast corner of Argyle Street and First Avenue in 1912. Back then, the street was a wide dirt road with businesses lining both sides of the north end, giving way to residential streets in the south end. This photo is one of 24,000 in the Alberni Valley Museum’s collection. See more at (PHOTO PN05688 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)

LOOK BACK: Shave and a haircut in 1912

Take a peek at Alberni Valley history with the Alberni Valley Museum

Sometimes, historical photos don’t seem to be significant at the time they are taken. On this day in 1912, an unnamed customer walked into O.K. Barber Shop on the northwest corner of Argyle Street in Port Alberni, where it intersects First Avenue, and asked for a shave and a haircut.

Barber Curtis Lovett obliged, serving the man while Walter C. Hamly, right, watched.

In 2020, it’s interesting to note some of the details of this photograph, such as what the people are wearing and the furniture and barbering implements being used. While we still have barbers in Port Alberni, how many can say they use this type of equipment?

First Avenue in 1912 was a wide, dirt road with houses and businesses lining either side. The avenue was known as “First Avenue North” or “First Avenue South” depending on what side of Argyle Street it was on. In The Albernis: Then and Now, 1912-2012, there are comparative photographs showing First Avenue both north and south from 1912 as well as a century later.

First Avenue North was known for its wide streets and faux facade clapboard businesses, real estate, hardware, gathering halls and a pool room. At the end of First where it intersects with Kingsway Avenue, the E& N Rail shipyards once flourished.

First Avenue South was a residential area that gradually transitioned to a commercial district by the water. There used to be a hotel on the corner of First and Argyle, the King Edward Hotel, built in 1907 by James S. Rollin. It burned down in 1947 and was replaced by the building that houses the Port Pub.

When avenues in Port Alberni were renumbered in 1976, city officials dropped the “north” and “south” directional labels.

This photo is one of nearly 24,000 in the Alberni Valley Museum’s collection. See more online at The Albernis: Then and Now, 1912-2012 is still available for purchase at the Alberni Valley Museum.

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