At King’s Road and Gower Street
Behind the counter at Halliday’s Meat Market on Kings Rd. and Gower Sts., Cliff Halliday Jr. shows me a very old ledger. Its cloth cover in scraps and the paper water-stained, this 500-page book lists the accounts of regular customers of the shop in the 1940s and 1950s. In August 1948, a 1 1/2lb T-bone steak was purchased for $1.35. Other purchases included 3lbs of veal for $1.20, 1 1/4lb of sausages for 63¢, a turnip at 35¢, and a 6 1/2 lb roast for $4.20. Despite prices like these, one account from Forest Road in the 1940s had a one-month tally of $126.
William Halliday, Cliff Jr.’s grandfather, handwrote his customers’ names in the front of the ledger along with a corresponding page number. In those years, accounts were tallied up monthly. Women coming to the store to do the shopping for their families would receive scraps of butcher paper with the amount owing scrawled on it. Often visiting daily, they would keep these receipts and bring them in at the end of the week or month to pay, and sometimes carrying their balance a little further.
Says Cliff Sr. of earlier times, “you’d kill a cow on Friday, and when it was sold you’d close up—there were no fridges then, no place to keep it.” Today, orders are still wrapped in brown paper, held together by twine that trails across the ceiling.
Though once upon a time local butcher shops dotted nearly every neighbourhood of old St. John’s, Halliday’s Meat Market is one of the last, and they’ve been at their present location—formerly a tinsmith shop—since the mid-1960s.
The original shop was near the base of Signal Hill Road. Operating since 1914, Halliday’s has been largely a family-run enterprise, once supplying meat, eggs, and milk by delivery from their farm and home on Nagle’s Hill, which closed in 1975. With friendly staff and handmade puddings, sausages, and pies (even knit mittens and hats!) Halliday’s remains a special local shop with devoted visitors dropping by regularly—perhaps as their parents and grandparents once did.
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