Magnet Hardware, which currently operates as a Home Hardware franchise on the corner of Commercial & Graveley, has been in business for exactly 100 years today. Magnet originally opened on 28th October 1922 “in the gallery of the Cal Van Market” at 25 Hastings Street. By early 1923, the business was located at 1515 Commercial Drive.
Magnet was owned and operated by Allan P. Squires who had been a salesman at Terminal Hardware. Twenty-two years later, in September 1944, Squires decided to retire and sold the business to Fred Ross, a new arrival from Edmonton. At the time of the sale, the Highland Echo said that Magnet was a perfect example of the Commercial Drive way: starting out small and building to a substantial business.
In June 1954 he sold Magnet to E.J. “Ted” Walker, also from Edmonton, due to Mrs. Ross’s ill health; and Ross sold it on to local former-Alderman Syd Bowman in 1955.
The store and building were severely damaged in a fire on 5th April 1963 shortly after Bowman left that night sometime after 9pm. Bowman rebuilt as quickly as he could, closing the store during weekdays for renovations, but opening on Saturdays for a fire sale. It re-opened on 20 June 1963 with “a brand-new interior, new stock and plenty of enthusiasm.”
In July 1964 Bowman sold the business to Sam Buonassisi who had been a successful entrepreneurial carpenter before buying Magnet. In 1972 the business took over the old Royal Bank branch at 1575 Commercial where it remains. They appear to have joined the Home Hardware group in 1994.
When Sam died in 2020, his son-in-law Ed Wilkerson took over the store and he manages it to this day.
One of our favourite stores on The Drive – great stuff, great staff, great service!
They also provide free advice willingly. No pushy sales.
Home Hardware is a distributer in St. Jacobs, Ontario, north of Waterloo.
“The chain is co-operatively owned by over 1100 independently owned member stores.”
In 2004, Canada Post issued a postage stamp to commemorate the company’s 40th anniversary.