Generations of Manns take up career in mortars-and-pestles

Those who were fortunate enough to have known the late Arthur Rutherford Mann, Craig Street’s highly esteemed and popular pharmacist until his retirement in 1989, will know that he was Art Mann Jr.

That’s because his father, Arthur Robert Mann Sr., founded the Duncan family dispensary when “Sonny” was just a boy.

How many, I wonder, knew that the father and son were of a long pharmaceutical line? That, as of 1993 when Art Jr. did the count, no fewer than nine Manns had taken the mortar-andpestle as their business logo? Besides Art, there were “my dad, two uncles, a

great-uncle, my first fatherin-law, [a] first cousin and his wife and one of my daughters”. Of these, the recordholder was great-uncle Willy who held in for 64 years.

The Manns’ combined service over a century totalled 335 years! I was reminded of this incredible family dynasty while researching the historic

Bazett Building in which the A.R. Mann Pharmacy operated, 1933-1989. The senior Mann originally bought Jarvis Currie’s Rexall Drugstore on Station Street, Duncan’s first. He sold in 1932 and started again (with just $250 inventory in deepest-darkest Depression) in 1933 on Craig Street.

The family’s pharmaceutical story began with Art Jr.’s maternal greatuncle William Rutherford’s graduation from Ontario College of Pharmacy in 1883. Such was the way of things in those days that, upon arrival in B.C. in 1898, he didn’t have to write another exam to be licensed. After operating under his own name in Nelson he was joined in 1928 by his nephew, Ed Mann, and the store became the Mann-Rutherford Drug Store. Retirement, when it did come for “Willie” Mann, was brief – he spent most of the Second World War and beyond in New Denver, dispensing to Japanese internees. Arthur Robert Mann, Art noted in his 1993 memoir, “graduated from OCP in 1908. He moved to B.C. and was licensed in 1909 and opened his first drug store in Grand Forks… Dad left Grand Forks in 1915 to serve in the Canadian Army. He was [a] pharmacist in a tent hospital, #5 Canadian General Hospital in Salonika in the Mediterranean for three years. After the war he joined the Hudson’s Bay Co. and opened the drug department in their new store in Victoria; after three years he was transferred to Vancouver to manage the drug department there. He moved to Duncan in 1927 and operated a store there until he died in 1969. The sign in the front window read, ‘A.R. MANN CHEMIST.’ He practised for 60 years.”

His father’s younger brother Edward began his apprenticeship in hometown Peterborough, Ont. before moving to Nelson and Prince Rupert. Another family graduate of OCP, he was licensed in B.C. in 1916, operating his brother’s store in Grand Forks until 1919 when he moved back to Rupert to work with C.H. Orme.

“It was decided to open a store in Terrace and so Ed and the complete drug store stock went up the Skeena River by boat. Unfortunately, the vessel hit a rock or sand bank and capsized; no lives were lost but the stock was and so the store never opened. In 1928, Ed left Rupert and joined his Uncle Willie and so Mann-Rutherford Drugs was born. Ed received the Robins Bowl of Hygeia Award in 1967. He remained in Nelson until his death in 1973. He served as a druggist for 54 years.”

Maternal uncle Bert Tovey, after graduating from OCP after an apprenticeship in his hometown of Peterboro, “served the community of Unity, [Sask.] for his whole working career owning his own store. For many years he was the senior pharmacist in Saskatchewan. He died at age 93 in 1975” after a 50-year career.

Art even married into the profession, his fatherin-law Percy M. Cochrane practising in Vancouver and New Westminster after apprenticing in Alberta before it became a province, and after being severely wounded in the First World War. He “was advised to seek outdoor employment [a] tough assignment for an Apothecary. [He] spent most of his working days as a drug salesman and became well known as representative of Jones Box & Label Co. for over 25 years.”

Proving that it really was all-in-the-family, Art’s cousin Roy Wesley Mann, from Nelson, was a classmate in 1949 in the first UBC pharmacy course. Roy worked with his father in operating two pharmacies in Nelson until his career was cut short by MS and his death in 1961.

There is no Art Mann III but Art Jr.’s daughter Megan Elizabeth [Maitland] graduated from UBC in 1980, worked for a time in Kitimat before moving with her family to Nanaimo. “Megan,” wrote Art with pride, “has the distinction of having both grandfathers and her dad as pharmacists.”

Which brings us to Arthur Rutherford Mann whose good fortune in sharing his father’s initials meant no expense of changing signs, labels or stationery when he assumed proprietorship of the Craig Street drug store. While attending Victoria College he’d “shared a Bunsen burner” with future author Pierre Berton. With his characteristic good humour, Art recalled having “registered as an apprentice in 1937, paid $1 and immediately retired.

“The reason for this quick move was the fact that a rumour had it that [Senior] Matric Latin would be a new requirement and I had [had] enough problems with Grade 12 Latin. [I apprenticed with the] Vancouver Drug Co. in Victoria in 1939… Joined the armed forces and served in the Dispensary of #16 Canadian General Hospital in Britain, France, Belgium and Germany. Returned to B.C. and was in the first class of Pharmacy at UBC, graduating in 1949…

“Thoroughly enjoyed the 20 years [that] Dad and I operated in Duncan and then I operated another 20 years on my own until selling and retiring in 1989. I was honoured with the Bowl of Hygeia Award in 1981 [after working] 40 years in the same pharmacy after graduation.”

A stalwart of the Duncan United Church and a tireless community activist and humanitarian, Art Mann Jr. was created a Freeman of the City of Duncan in 1998. He died, aged 88, in December 2008.

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