Mouat’s Trading Co. Ltd. has been a retail “trend-setter” for over 100 years, and we are very excited about the continued evolution of this fine company.
The original Mouat’s Store opened in Ganges in 1907 when Gilbert Mouat and his mother Jane purchased the Malcolm & Purvis store which was located adjacent to the present main store building. In 1909, Gilbert’s older brother William joined the firm and in 1911 the new store was constructed. Later the youngest brother Gavin joined the firm.
Over the years the business grew to include hard goods, groceries, meats, produce, feed grains, lumber, dry goods, petroleum products and many other products and services. In 1912, Mouat’s became a Ford dealer and over the next 30 years sold a great many cars, the storied Model T being the mainstay.
Mouat’s continued operating through the First World War, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Second World War and on into the 1950s and 1960s when Salt Spring’s population entered a period of sustained growth. Over the years, products carried in the store changed. As the importance of farmsteading diminished, logging went through a period of strong growth and as that industry slowed construction and services to provide for the needs of newcomers became dominant in the Salt Spring economy.
Throughout these years a great many Islanders were employed by Mouat’s — some for their entire working careers. The management of the operation passed from the children to the grand-children and great grand-children of Jane Mouat. Many other members of the extended family worked in the business.
In 1969 Mouat’s was being managed by Laurie and Mac Mouat, sons of the founder, Gilbert. They, together with the other shareholders, indicated an interest in selling the business and in the spring of 1969 the assets were purchased by a group composed of Dick and Barbara Toynbee, Manson Toynbee, Tom and Yvonne Toynbee, Norman and Carolyn Mouat and John Lees. Norman Mouat and the Toynbee brothers are also grandsons of Jane Mouat. A new company was formed under the name Mouat’s Trading Co. Ltd. We still operate under that name today.
In the years following 1969, with the vision of the new owners and under the management of Tom Toynbee, Mouat’s continued to evolve in response to the changing needs of Salt Spring, most notably joining the Home Hardware group in 1981. With this buying power, the company was able to provide islanders a comprehensive product selection at competitive prices.
Mouat’s Clothing Co., with its unique collection of clothing, grew rapidly with great support from Islanders and visitors alike. Old Salty established itself as “the place” for gifts and greeting cards and is a favorite meeting place for Islanders.
Also during this period, Mouat’s recognized the need to diversify and to foster a strong business environment in the Ganges core. In line with this, the Company literally reshaped Ganges by filling in the mud flats between Mouat’s and what is now the Salt Spring Inn. In the years that followed, the company built several buildings and leased space to CIBC, Canada Post, Thrifty Foods as well as many other retail, restaurant and office tenants.
In 2000, the Toynbee/Mouat families expanded ownership of the company to include several members of the Bell family. Nicola Bell (nee Toynbee) is the great grand-daughter of Jane Mouat.
With the retirement of Tom Toynbee, Kevin Bell took the helm and led the company through a period of sustained growth, fine tuning retail operations which included further developing and enhancing The Housewares Store and The Bed Bath and Homeware Store. Seemingly a prerequisite of the role, like his predecessors before him, Kevin managed the store prudently and successfully through turbulent economic times.
David Toynbee, great grand-son of Jane Mouat, and Christina Marshall Toynbee were welcomed into the ownership group in 2013 with David taking the reins from the retiring Kevin Bell in managing this very extraordinary company.