R. T. Holman Ltd

Robert Tinson Holman was one of the most significant figures in the economic and business history of Prince Edward Island.  He opened his first store in 1857 and at the time of his death in 1906 owned the largest retail establishment on the Island.  The old family business then passed into the hands of his sons Harry T. and James LeRoy and took on new directions.  This mural, based on the 1927 Holman’s catalogue, pays tribute to the vibrant mail order merchandising initiated by the brothers in 1909.

Holman’s catalogue became an institution throughout Prince Edward Island and Eastern Canada, growing from a simple annual publication to a much larger and attractive twice-yearly product. Though never a match for Timothy Eaton, Holman’s catalogue served all of Prince Edward Island, much of the Maritimes and parts of Quebec until well into the 1930s.  The Holman brothers continued their father’s policy of an “unconditional guarantee” and promise to supply all the needs of the customer.

This mural is an interpretation the 1927 catalogue cover by John Inglis, who was a professional commercial designer in Holman’s advertising department.  This fortieth issue highlights the architectural heritage of the company.  The simple wood-frame building depicted is the first Water Street store built in 1857 while the smaller of the brick structures is the 1923 Charlottetown branch.  The larger brick building is the Summerside store completed in 1895.

The motto “Older than Confederation” and the sailing vessel reflect R. T. Holman’s vigorous involvement in coastal trading with the United States.  On the roof of the 1927 Summerside store can be seen the transmitting mast of the newly established Holman Radio Station.  The Station call letters CHGS stood for “Call Holman’s Guaranteed Satisfaction.”  By 1927 Holman’s had expanded beyond retail merchandising into the oyster fishery, farm machinery manufacturing and fox ranching and continued to be a major force in Island business until the 1970s.

Location: The Holman Centre at 250 Water Street

Facts:  Mural # 7.  Measures 16 x 20 feet.  Erected 2000 with funding from the Canada Millennium Partnership Program (CMPP).

Mural Artist: John Bradford MacCallum