The property at 16 Celina Street in Oshawa was once owned by James Odgers Guy, Oshawa’s Harbour Master and Coal dealer, who also sold grain from this property. A large sign hung above the store which read “FLOUR AND FEED.” Mr. Guy sold the property in 1905 to Elgin Cooper, who started the transformation of the old grain buying establishment into a specializing house for seed peas. The property was enlarged and considerably altered to accommodate the new business and expanding departments of Cooper-Smith.
In 1908, Harry Smith, the son-in-law of Elgin Cooper, joined the company. He was made an official partner in 1910. Harry Smith took over the company in 1911 upon the death of Elgin Cooper. Aubrey Cooper, son of Elgin Cooper, joined the business as a partner at this time.
The property at 16 Celina Street was a two-storey building, measuring 50 feet by 160 feet, with large buildings in the rear for storage. All kinds of flour, feed, oats, grain and seeds were sold at Cooper-Smith. During the busy season, 30 assistants were employed to help operate the business.
In 1927, the company was specializing in a number of other things besides seed peas and had a commanding position in the seed, flour, cereal, and poultry business. Cooper-Smith produced a special seed for homing pigeons. The seed was developed by Harry Smith, and it was known for giving the pigeons remarkable stamina. Cooper-Smith was now making deliveries within a five-mile radius of the city.
Harry Smith passed away in 1929. Joseph Higgins, an employee with the company, joined into partnership with Aubrey Cooper. Alan Smith, the son of Harry Smith, joined the company in 1945. He worked with Joseph Higgins as partner after the death of Aubrey Cooper in 1948. Alan Smith became sole owner in 1950 upon the death of Joseph Higgins.
Although the company was already selling garden seeds in bulk since the early 1920s, this area of the business was expanded upon in the early 1950s and continued to be a substantial part of the business.
In 1978, the company’s name was changed to Cooper-Smith of Oshawa Ltd. Also at this time, Alan Smith decided to pass the reins of the business onto his sons. Steven and Peter. The company was forced into receivership and closed their doors in July 1982. It reopened in August 1982 under new owners but still within the Smith family.
In January 1988, the property at 16 Celina Street was totally destroyed by fire. Cooper-Smith did not own the property at this time but were renting it until a suitable location could be found to carry on the business. Alan Smith passed away on April 21, 1988. This family owned and operated business of 83 years no longer existed after 1988 according to the Vernon’s City Directories of Oshawa.
Daily Reformer, June 30, 1927.
Oshawa Times, January 18, 1988.
Oshawa This Week, January 15, 1988.
Oshawa Times, July 22, 1982.
Vernon’s City Directories
Oshawa Community Archives