The Larder of the Wise

The Story of Vancouver’s James Inglis Reid Ltd.

Reviewed by Austin Quagleini

Posted March 17, 2022

In The Larder of The Wise, M. Anne Wyness, a member of the Vancouver Historical Society, takes readers through the life and times of James Inglis Reid, a Scottish immigrant who came to Canada in 1906 to seek his fame and fortune in the grocery trade. He achieved his dream by opening a butcher shop that was a much-beloved Vancouver business until its closure in 1986.

Wyness provides easy-to-follow narration, and her book includes excellent illustrations that portray the experiences of immigrants in the early twentieth century, changing consumer trends, the effects of wars upon small businesses, and, later, the fallout from the loss of the beloved establishment.

A letter to the editor published in the Vancouver Sun sums up Reid’s store’s importance to the community: “Quite apart from being an excellent butcher and baker, Reid’s is a haven for those who are nostalgic for contact with the old country…. The tradition behind Reid’s is an asset Vancouver cannot afford to lose.”

The Larder of The Wise shows how the loss of a small historic business does not just mean losing a place to shop; it means losing all the connections the business built, the legacy it established, and the memories contained within it.

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This article originally appeared in the April-May 2022 issue of Canada’s History.

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