Brockies honoured for decades in business

Duane Hicks

Ted and Ruth Brockie of Brockie’s Jewellers were recognized for their outstanding contribution, and years of dedication, to the local business community last Wednesday evening during the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s 22nd-annual business awards at La Place Rendez-Vous.
The Brockies, who retired earlier this year after owning the Scott Street business for 38 years, were presented with the rare honour of the James Paul Award by Chamber president Mark Caron.
“We were quite overwhelmed and surprised,” Ted Brockie told the Times in an interview Thursday.
“We were almost blindsided. Mark had been pumping my daughter for information and offering her free tickets if we could somehow show up for sure,” he chuckled.
“We knew something was in the wind.
“But it was a real honour that our decades on the street were recognized by our peers,” Brockie added.
“It was very gratifying indeed.”
Providing quality service day in and day out on a consistent basis was a point of pride for Brockie’s Jewellers, Brockie noted, but stressed the business also prospered because of the strong relationships it built with district residents.
“The support from the local folk was just overwhelming over the years, particularly the district through Stratton, Barwick, Rainy River, Emo,” he remarked.
“They were so loyal. Rather than go to Winnipeg to buy something, they’d always show up at the store,” he noted. “As a result, we made many, many friends and good acquaintances over the years, which we value today.
“Because we were there so long, we quite often serviced three generations.”
Looking ahead, Brockie said he and Ruth are looking forward to retirement, which he said really only started Aug. 31 after the deal to sell the building to an engineering firm was finalized.
The business that would become Brockie’s Jewellers was founded in 1909 by George H. Gledhill. In 1938, Brockie’s father, Dave, came to Fort Frances to work as a watchmaker and clerk for Gledhill, Caron recounted before presenting the Brockies with the award.
Dave Brockie then purchased the business in 1947. Ted joined the business in 1971, after which time he studied and earned the dual title of registered jeweller and certified gemologist.
Dave retired and Ted assumed ownership in 1980.
When Dave wanted to sell the store about 10 years ago, Ruth decided to stepped in and take over the day-to-day management of the business “in order to maintain their ties in the community and offer the expertise and service people had come to rely on and trust,” Caron noted.
When Ruth was needed in B.C. after the arrival of their twin granddaughters in 2012, Ted came out of retirement and returned to the store on a more regular basis.
The closure of Brockie’s this year ended 71 years of service to Fort Frances and Rainy River District.
“Brockie’s Jewellers cultivated a reputation for integrity, discretion, and top quality,” Caron said.
“The family also felt that it was important to give back to the community, and Brockie’s could be counted on to donate to numerous sports teams, charitable causes, and fundraising events,” he added.
Through the years, Brockie’s was fortunate to have a number of long-term staff members who became like family, including Bertha Ossachuk, Ruth Macedon, Jackie Grynol, Tyra Hammond, Joanne Kivimaki, Tracy Hudson, and Krissy Morrison, all of whom spent “significant portions of their lives contributing to the success of the business and providing their customer service with the highest degree of care,” Caron said.
Ted and Ruth are “eternally grateful to the people of Fort Frances and surrounding district for their years of support and friendship,” he added, noting they have “felt honoured to have been entrusted with some of the most important moments in people’s lives.”
The James Paul Award is named after the local Chamber’s founder.
The Fort Frances Board of Trade was formed by James Paul and incorporated under the Boards of Trade Act in 1909. The group came to be called the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce in 1928 and remains registered under that name today.
Previous James Paul Award recipients include Gord McBride, Tony Beyak, Abitibi-Consolidated, Kim Metke, Mel DeGagné (NorFab Building Components), 93.1 The Border, and Tannis Drysdale.