Cut from the same cloth

Josh
Josh Pennell
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Halliday’s Meat Market turns 100 with a third generation behind the counter

There’s a butcher’s table behind the counter at Halliday’s Meat Market on Gower Street that weighs an estimated 1,000 lbs with not a visible screw or nail in it — a massive part of a tree trunk with pieces all dovetailed together.

“If you can carry it out you can have it,” jokes Cliff Halliday Jr., or “Kip” as everyone refers to him. He says the table came from Duff’s Grocery Store, which used to be on the corner of Freshwater Road and Empire Avenue. It’s been in his family’s store since he can remember.

Kip has been working at the family meat shop in some way since he can remember, too.

“I can remember I was small enough to get into that showcase and wash it,” he says.

That’s hard to believe now. Kip is a thick man with a boisterous laugh — a wrecking ball with in an almost unnerving sense of humour moving back and forth throughout the back of the store. If you get a tour of the meat locker, you’ll probably get locked in there for a few seconds with the lights off as the laughter barrels through the door from outside.

History and such carrying on go hand in hand at Halliday’s. The store is turning 100 years old this year. Kip is the third generation to take it on and it isn’t long before 80-year-old Cliff Halliday Sr. comes through the door and starts moving a couple of cases of beer at the corner of the showcase at the back of the store.

“He’s getting his chair ready for the day,” Kip says as he watches his father move the cases to make a spot for himself to sit.

It’s one of those daily routines that take place at Halliday’s.

“Literally, he gets on the beer,” Kip says laughing.

Senior’s father started Halliday’s in 1914 when he was 17 years old. It was at 1 Duckworth St., later it moved to the bottom of Signal Hill. The family owned a farm on Nagle’s Hill and at the age of 14 his father decided to take it over and care for his widowed mother and three sisters.

“He was all guts, I tell ya. Kept his three sisters and mother. He had the belly. He had the guts,” says Senior.

Halliday’s moved to its current location in 1967. Kip takes care of the business now, but his father still comes in every morning about 6:30 am.

“I’ve done some pounding on that, buddy,” he says, pointing to the aforementioned table. “We don’t use the block like we used to years ago. Years ago, you’d be using the cleaver. Cutting. Chopping. Sawing.”

Kip marvels at how things must have been done back in his grandfather’s day.

“There was none of this,” he says, banging a marker against a counter. “There was no markers. There was no refrigeration. There was no plastic. So how did you wrap stuff up? Only with brown paper and a bit of string.”

One of the biggest changes is the way they get their meat, Senior says. They once butchered their own or got it delivered in quarters. Now it comes in already separated into cuts.

“We’re not butchers anymore. Now we’re only meat cutters,” Senior says.

But there are plenty of things that haven’t changed at Halliday’s, such as that bit of extra care.

“A lot of people wants a bit of personal service,” says Senior. “You treat people right, they’ll come back.”

And people have been coming back, some for more than 50 years. Likewise, Halliday’s has employees who have been with them for 27 years.

“It’s hard to hold onto, though,” says Senior.

Big box stores make for tough competition. Still, Kip says they pick up plenty of new customers, too. And certainly there have been the customers and friends that will never be forgotten.

“A lot of old fellas sat in that chair there buddy, I tell ya,” says Senior.

Bill King would come from St. Philip’s to wait for his wife every afternoon, he says. He would sit down for a yarn and a drink — “a toothful” as Senior calls it.

Senior would buy splits and vegetables from King and when it was time to get paid, King would want only loonies. He’d roll them up until he had a thousand and then would take them to the bank to get a $1,000 bill.

“I don’t know what he did with all his $1000 bills,” Senior laughs. “He was a lovely man, old Bill was.”

The future of Halliday’s seems to be dependable for a while yet. Kip has the place running well.

“It’s too bad he wasn’t a twin, Kip. I’d make twice as much money,” says Senior.

Kip’s brother, Chris, started working at Country Ribbon when he was 16. Senior says he’s up at the store on his time off now and he can retire in a few years and will likely be there a lot more then.

Operations beyond that generation are a little more uncertain. Kip has a daughter who spends a bit of time around the store. “I don’t want to turn her from it. I was never forced to do it. If you wanted to come out, you came out,” he says.

With the store 100 years old, perhaps the best thing is to think of what the man who started the place would think.

“He’d be a happy man,” says Senior. “As long as he had the family happy and they had enough to eat, that’s all he wanted.”

 

 

Geographic location: Freshwater Road, Signal Hill, Country Ribbon

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  • Patricia Feehan Malone
    February 17, 2014 - 18:12

    ICongrats on 100 years...I wish you many more. I buy sausages nowhere else in town..they're that good! I remember gong there when I was young with my aunt Kay getting groceries...walk home and they would deliver that afternoon. I rememer Bill, John, Cliff, Bet and Dot...They were always so kind when Kay took sick with cancer...everytime she went in hospital for treatment, there would be flowers from "The Hallidays"....great family business in the neighborhood.

  • Tara Pennell
    February 17, 2014 - 15:18

    This is a great story. I went there for years, every time we would BBQ we would go to Halidays for the best steaks in town. My brother goes there regurlarly. One of the few great memories of childhood days left.. Right up there with LARS Fruit Store! sad day when that closed!

  • Lorraine Clarke
    February 17, 2014 - 11:19

    I grew up on British Square in the 60s, just west of Halliday's on Gower, and made the trip down and back up the street for everything from stew meat on Thursdays to getting the roast for Sunday dinner on Saturday. I remember how big the knives and cleavers were to me when I was 8 or 9 years old. I have an old knife now with a 10" blade worn down in the middle from use. It reminds me of the ones I saw hacking at the big chunks of meat at Halliday's back in the 60s. Every time I pick it up, I think of the store, and I just wish I knew where I could get it sharpened to the kind of edge I know they had on their blades. I keep meaning to put it in my car and visit them again, not only to ask about the knife, but to take a trip back to the 60s and get personal service and a custom cut of something more special than stew meat this time.

  • Marilyn Halliday hendriks
    February 17, 2014 - 10:31

    I am a relative, my dad was thaomas Halliday

  • Jack
    February 17, 2014 - 09:41

    Best service in the city, if you want a steak no need to go anywhere but Halliday's! The best you will get! Try the pudding and sausage you won't regret it! Congrats folks you are one of a kind!

  • Doreen Tucker
    February 17, 2014 - 09:23

    My husband has been friends with the family for years. And when we were dating he says I'm going for steak tonight. I'll take you to the best place in town. He took me to Hallidays and had the T-bone steak freshly cut. I laughed. The service was first rate….and the T-steak when he BBQed it was the best I ever had and ever will. We don't say we are BBQing anymore….We say "Let's go see KIP!!!" xo Congrats on 100 years!!!!

  • George Innes
    February 17, 2014 - 08:34

    A fantastic family,( I remember Cliff Sr.'s Father & siblings) who actually enjoy their vocation. I have been a customer for four decades and still enjoy going there. Their sausages & brawn are of legendary status. You can keep your Costco and chain groceries, if you want real service & quality, you'll find it at Hallidays. Always a smile and a genuine welcome. While our custom & cash is welcome, I always come away with the feeling that I've been visiting friends. They haven't let the chain stores muscle them out of business as has happened to most of our butcher shops. A hundred years of real service and efficiency.

  • George Innes
    February 17, 2014 - 08:31

    A fantastic family,( I remember Cliff Sr.'s Father & siblings) who actually enjoy their vocation. I have been a customer for four decades and still enjoy going there. Their sausages & brawn are of legendary status. You can keep your Costco and chain groceries, if you want real service & quality, you'll find it at Hallidays. Always a smile and a genuine welcome. While our custom & cash is welcome, I always come away with the feeling that I've been visiting friends. They haven't let the chain stores muscle them out of business as has happened to most of our butcher shops. A hundred years of real service and efficiency.

  • Melinda Saunders
    February 17, 2014 - 07:28

    Congratulation Halliday's! I use to go to your store when I was a little girl for my mom or go with her! We lived on Gower Street many moons ago! Looking thru the glass while you cut the meat & the lay out of the store! How friendly ye guys were! There was this woman there that was so kind. I don't know who she was but she would always give me a treat! I will never forget that. Congrats again

  • Melinda Saunders
    February 17, 2014 - 07:27

    Congratulation Halliday's! I use to go to your store when I was a little girl for my mom or go with her! We lived on Gower Street many moons ago! Looking thru the glass while you cut the meat & the lay out of the store! How friendly ye guys were! There was this woman there that was so kind. I don't know who she was but she would always give me a treat! I will never forget that. Congrats again

  • John
    February 17, 2014 - 07:19

    I can remember when that building used to be owned by Philips Sheet Metal. They used to make ductwork, flue pipes for stoves and just about anything else sheet metal.

  • John
    February 17, 2014 - 07:17

    I can remember when that building used to be owned by Philips Sheet Metal. They used to make ductwork, flue pipes for stoves and just about anything else sheet metal.

  • Bill
    February 17, 2014 - 06:04

    Great story brings me right back to when I was a child. I grew up on Cochrane St. and there weren't too many days that my mother never sent me or one of my siblings to Halliday’s Meat Market to pick up the meat for supper that night. I have gone back there myself on occasion to pick up a piece of salt beef for Sunday dinner a place where you can actually enter the meat locker and pick your own piece.

    • Lucia Gray
      February 17, 2014 - 08:07

      I remember Halliday's Meat Market on Plymouth Road. I went to St. Joseph's School on Quidi Vidi Road. It is one of my great memories of the area. I can remember seeing the brace of rabbits hung outside in the winter time. You had no worries of them thawing out in the winter time. Also, I remember the owners and the lady who served on the counter, always so friendly. If you became a regular customer, you were given extra special care and service. Congratulations on your 100 Anniversary.