Creaghan, John D.

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John Daniel Creaghan, a native of Mount Bellew, Galway, Ireland, completed his studies at the Franciscan College at Tuam and went to Glasgow, Scotland, where he took a position in the dry goods business at Campbell’s, Scotland’s largest mercantile house.

In 1875, he arrived in Fredericton, sent to manage a branch store doing business under the name MacDonald and Company. He travelled on behalf of the firm and it was probably on one of his visits to the Miramichi that he decided to locate in Newcastle.

Co-founder Donald Sutherland was a native of Scotland. His business success was short. In 1888, he opened a dry goods store on his own account in Chatham. In 1892 he was bankrupt and sold his interests to J.D. Creaghan. A few months later, January 30, 1893, he died in New York of pneumonia. The Miramichi Advance described him as “one of the most kind-hearted and genial of men.” That first store the partners opened on Castle Street was a small wooden structure stocking general dry goods, the likes of which had never been seen before on the river.

In 1878 the firm purchased a lot on the south side of Castle Street and, during the summer of 1880, the store was enlarged. The Miramichi Advance reported “Messrs. Sutherland and Creaghan of Newcastle, who have recently enlarged their store at the head of the Public Wharf advertise a splendid lot of goods,” . “Their improved facilities and greatly increased stock ought to attract purchasers in both town and country.” Indeed it did.

On September 25, 1884, The Miramichi Advance announced to readers: “Sutherland and Creaghan are having their fine storefront handsomely finished in black and gold. The work is being done by Mr. Humphrey Fayle, a skilful workman, and when completed will very much improve the appearance of the store, which is the finest building in town. Messrs. S. and C. are evidently determined to keep pace with the times.”

The business expanded. In 1888 Sutherland and Creaghan decided to conduct business separately. They would, however, continue under the name of Sutherland and Creaghan. In December of 1888, Mr. Sutherland opened a store in Chatham. In 1892, he sold his interest in both the Newcastle and Chatham stores to Mr. Creaghan for $4,000.

A new Chatham store opened on Water Street in 1896. The Miramichi Advance had all the details: “The main entrance is from Water Street through recessed double doors, which lead the visitor to the main floor. This is of birch laid in 2 and 2/3” widths, grooved and tongued and blind-nailed. There are no columns or other supports to interfere with a clear view of the whole interior. The walls and ceiling are all sheathed with 2 and 1/2” beaded pine, which is covered with white and gold. Continuous bracketed shelving runs all around the walls to a height of eight feet. The counters are of walnut and ash, finished in oil and of handsome design. There are also convenient toilette rooms in the basement.

In the extension are the millinery room and ladies’ private toilette room and at the rear a complete gentlemen’s clothing department, with private fitting room. The building is fitted with Gurney-Massey patent heaters and ventilators and lighted by electricity – a special cluster of incandescent lamps lighting the lace and ribbon counter.

“The work on the new building after Mr. Desmond had put it in a position, was done as follows: Masonry by Joseph Forrest; carpentry by John Ryan; painting by Wm. Johnson and Frank Barden; Furnace work by Arch. McLean. The counters are by John McDonald.”

The store saw more developments. That summer a cement sidewalk was laid in front, the first of its kind in the town. In the fall the Kinbell cash system was introduced in the store. Containers took cash along a single wire rack to the cashier, who made change and returned the container to the clerk.

In 1905 the business celebrated its 30th anniversary. It was a significant one in the history of the company. On March 1, 1905, J.D. Creaghan purchased from James Flanagan, merchant, the Caledonian building on Main Street, Moncton, with $2,500 worth of stock which he offered for quick sale.

The same month, J.D. Creaghan; D.S. Creaghan, Newcastle; Fulton McDougall, Moncton; Howard McKendy, Chatham; J.W.Y. Smith, P.S. Archibald and T.W. Flanagan, Moncton, were incorporated as the J.D. Creaghan Company Limited. Capital stock was $100,000 and the head office was at Newcastle. J.D. Creaghan was elected president. He died at his home on Prince William Street on September 13, 1938 at the age of 87.

Donald Sutherland Creaghan became the second president of the company after the death of his father. The company grew. A fourth store was opened in Fredericton in 1950, the 75th anniversary of the company and ten years later, a branch opened in the new Fairview Plaza in Saint John.

In 1958, William V. Creaghan succeeded his brother as president. He retired in 1972 and died the following year. The company’s head office was moved to Moncton in 1966. Three years later, another store opened in the city’s new Highfield Square, this time, a ladies’ specialty shop. The following year, the company extended its operations to Bathurst and the Saint John store was closed out.

Donald A. Creaghan became the fourth president in 1972. The Company continued pretty much as a family affair. Three more Creaghans were vice-presidents of the company and active as store managers: John D. Creaghan, vice-president and manager of the Chatham store; Richard P. Creaghan, vice-president and manager of the Fredericton store, and T. Marven Creaghan, vice-president and manager of the Newcastle store.


Source:
CREAGHAN’S NEWS AND HISTORICAL ARCHIVE
The Atlantic Advocate, June 1975
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