Wednesday, August 10, 2022

I Want to Live in a Grocery Store

Hello! Long time no blog. Hope everyone is well.

Have you ever wanted to live in an old grocery store, school, or church? I love the thought of fixing up and living in an old historic building. I have seen several old schools and churches being used as private dwellings but I think this is my first grocery store.

On a recent trip to LA, not that LA...I'm talking about the famous (or is it infamous?) City of Lethbridge, Alberta, I was able to see a building I hadn't seen before. This city has it's fair share of history and I always enjoy my visits.

Today we visit the Berte Grocery Building. This building is located in the Village of Stafford, which was annexed into the City of Lethbridge in 1913. Stafford was a small ethnic community of mainly mine workers, located near the Galt Coal Mine #3.

John Berte set up his store at this location in 1918. John and his family lived upstairs and operated the store until 1942. A fun fact is that in 1934 John had a telephone installed, making it one of 2 in North Lethbridge at the time. 

Here is a full timeline of the store from the Alberta Register of Historic Places:

  • 1918-1942 Owned and Operated by John Berte
  • 1942-1948 Owned by Natale Natalini
  • 1949-1979 Owned by Micheal & Mary Swidinsky who operated General Grocery and Meat until 1954
  • 1954-1969 Leased to George Dong who operated George's Groceries & Meat 
  • 1970-1975 C.W.Chan operated as Yien's Grocery
  • 1976-1997 William (Kin Wai Lam) and his wife Yee Wah Lam Operated as William's Grocery (they purchased the property in 1979)
  • 2000-2003 Tumbleweed Cafe
  • 2004 purchased as a private family residence
  • 2012 Designated as a Municipal Historic Resource 
I stopped here just before sunset and because of who I am as person, didn't take too many photos because I know someone lives there and didn't want to make it weird. This means I did not take photos of the sides of the building that have what's left of some ghost signs. Sorry.

Berte Grocery c1920 - from Galt Musuem & Archives

August 2022

My friends over at BigDoer did a great piece on Berte Grocery, read it HERE

Resources: Alberta Register of Historic Places


  1. ...imagine my surprise to see your post pop up on my reader list! I like the gost sign on this one. In my travels I've seen a number of stores converted into houses.

    1. Hi Tom! I was surprised to see that I hadn't posted since October 2021!! Time flies but I wasn't even having that much fun haha! Hope you're doing well.

  2. First, thanks for the shout out! Corner stores were always magical places as a kid and wouldn't it be amazing to live in one. I thought it was just us and we also feel weird taking photos of occupied homes.

    1. You bet! I don't think there are many things that I have blogged about that you haven't also blogged about previously. You are both awesome!!

    2. Thank you so much and we do get around. Truth is we've still not scratched the surface and stuff is vanishing faster than we can get to it. I know you're not dong this much anymore, but consider it an open invite to join us on something.

  3. I want to live in Save-On Foods, so when it's super hot like today I could cool off in the ice cream freezer and work my way through a bunch of ice cream treats.

    1. Hahaha!! I was speaking with my son about the best place to live if you couldn't leave and we decided on Costco, it has everything including ice cream!!

  4. Jenn,

    Yay! It’s great to see you again and your wonderful photos!

  5. I like the look of it.

    There are a couple of homes near mine that would have been corner stores decades ago. You can still see the old name embedded in the brick.

    1. Ooooh those sounds like places I'd like to see, I do love an old brick building!