Manitoba Historical Society
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MHS Centennial Business: Christie’s Office Plus

Christie’s Office Plus of Brandon is older than the city itself. It was founded as Christie’s School Supply in 1881 by Ernest Lisle Christie. The major settlement in the area to that time was Grand Valley, with a population of 400. It held eight general stores, two hardware stores, a drugstore, two liveries, two boarding houses, a hotel, a doctor, a jeweler, a baker, a carpenter, a surveyor and a harness-maker. However, in May 1881 Thomas L. Rosser, the CPR Chief Engineer, chose a site for the CPR railway station two miles away along the Assiniboine River. Activity soon focused on the new town site of Brandon, which by October 1881 had a population of 200. E. L. Christie was one of the first to see its potential, joining a growing number of hotels (some simply in large tents), general stores and lumber companies. By the time the newspaper, the Brandon Sun, began publishing in January 1882, the town had grown to 700 – tripling in size in three months!

By the early 1900s Christie’s School Supply on Rosser Avenue was described in Henderson’s Directory as selling school furnishings, books, stationery, and wallpaper. By 1904 its success allowed E. L. Christie to be the first in Brandon to own a Ford! The business moved to its current Pacific Avenue location in 1926. However, the Christie family sold the store to Ken Fraser in the mid-1960s. Don and Frank Main, along with Don Cable and Jim Findlater, took over ownership in 1979 for three years. Jim Findlater departed in 1982, and when Frank Main retired and Don Cable relocated to Calgary in 1994, Don Main and Don Green purchased it and continue to own and operate the business together.

During its long history, Christie’s has constantly adjusted to the market needs. Originally its business came 75 per cent from schools and 25 per cent retail and other business, but this has varied and is no longer the case. At one time it was the largest school supply house in Western Canada, and has salesmen calling on territories all the way from Kenora to the Okanagan and into the North West Territories from its headquarters in Brandon. With the advent of big box stores, and the availability elsewhere of specialized equipment, Christie’s now focuses on consumable school supplies and commercial office and school furniture. During its long history, success has been found in adaptability and good service.

An MHS Centennial Business Award was presented to Dianne Little of Christie’s Office Plus, by David Deane, on 15 January 2005.

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: Ernest Lisle Christie (1864-1934)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Christie House (404 Thirteenth Street, Brandon)

Sources:

This page is based largely on an article in the Brandon Sun dated 28 May 1994.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 19 May 2018

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