Deer Lake honours some of town’s pioneers

Diane Crocker
Published on July 2, 2014

Say the name Schwartz around Deer Lake and a connection to sports is almost automatic.

On Tuesday, that name and that connection were honoured when the town of Deer Lake officially named the Bennett’s Avenue recreation area Schwartz Park.

The naming ceremony took place during Deer Lake’s Canada Day celebrations at the Hodder Memorial Centre.

The naming of the park was just one of five ways that pioneer residents of the town were honoured.

“There’s no doubt about it, it’s an honour,” said Harold Schwartz when contacted by The Western Star about the recognition on Monday.

Schwartz and Sons Limited was started as a family clothing and footwear store by Schwartz’s father, Sam Schwartz, in 1929.

Mr. Schwartz, a peddler from Poland, came to Deer Lake in 1923 to work on the hydro project to build Main Dam.

“He sold goods out of a tent,” said Schwartz of his entrepreneur father who died in 1969.

Over the years the business expanded and the Schwartz’s operated two stores in Deer Lake and also had stores in Baie Verte, La Scie, Port au Choix and Flower’s Cove.

In later years Schwartz and his brother Eddie Schwartz, who died in 1975, took over the business which evolved to include sporting goods.

“People always think it was a major part, but it wasn’t really, even though it was a substantial business,” said Schwartz of the sports business. “I guess you could say it was a good part of our business.”

Schwartz closed the main part of the business in 2000, and his son continued the sports store, Schwartz Source for Sports, for about another five years.

Schwartz said both he and his brother were big supporters of sports in the town.

“We always supported the minor programs,” he said. “Whatever they wanted we tried to help them out.”

When asked why they did it, he responded with “well why not. It’s the future right? It’s pretty simple I think.”

The recreation area on Bennett Avenue has been around for a few years, and Schwartz was happy when the town contacted him about naming it for his family.

“It is quite an honour and I’m very proud that we’ve been recognized in that way, really proud. And I’m sure my late brother and my father would have felt the same way.”

Junior Pinksen is the director of the town’s recreation department.

He said when the town decided it was time to give the multifunctioned area — playground, soccer field, softball field, skateboard park and dog park — an identity the Schwartz name received unanimous approval.

“Recreation sort of fit in with their line of store operations for years,” he said and added the family helped out in the community in many different ways.

“Anything with youth in our community they were always there.”

During the ceremony the town also named an area on Nicholsville Road, across from where Deer Lake Sales and Service was located, Joe Butt’s Lookout.

Pinksen said Butt ran Deer Lake Sales and Service for about 35 years and the area named for him is used for parking by people going to the beach. An interpretive sign has been located there.

Three rooms at the Hodder were also named for three recreation pioneers in the town — Harold White, Derek Fudge and Patrick Kenny.

White was instrumental in the establishment of an indoor rink in the town and served on the recreation committee. Fudge is a former recreation director and also umpired and coached softball and was involved in ball hockey and broomball. Kenny served as a minor hockey coach and brought ringette to Deer Lake.

He was also a softball umpire and active volunteer in the church and local Lions Club.