1939: The Year We Bought a Farm

July 13, 2017
1939: The Year We Bought a Farm

As part of our 110th birthday celebration, we’re taking a look back at some historical (and historic!) moments in our Purdys timeline.

The year is 1939.

It’s the start of World War II and rations mean that cream and butter are in short supply.

Hugh Forrester, then-owner at Purdys Chocolatier, came up with a pretty sweet workaround to the rations—by purchasing a dairy farm with 20 cows in Ladner, BC (which is about 40 minutes outside of Vancouver).

Throughout the war, Purdys' chocolatiers and candy makers had fresh cream and butter daily from this farm to craft favourites that are still made today, like any of our Creams.

But WWII didn’t just mean rations; it also meant supply restrictions, which meant that Purdys shops sold out of chocolates very quickly.

Each day during the war, the shops would open at exactly noon and customers could only purchase one pound of chocolates each. There were line-ups around the block, and we usually sold out of chocolates within half an hour of opening.

Evelyn Powell, a Purdys fan who lived in Edmonton during WWII and came to Vancouver with her friend on a mission to find lumber (as Alberta was experiencing a lumber shortage at the time), remembers:

“One day we saw a line-up on Granville Street. In those days, when you saw a line-up, you got into it. If you didn’t need what was offered, someone you knew did.

‘What is on,’ we asked. No one knew. As the line moved on, people came by waving their parcels.

‘Chocolates’, they smiled. ‘Purdys chocolates, in boxes.’

We let out a scream. We hadn’t seen a box of chocolates in months!

We each got a box, and went back to Purdys every day and stood in the line-up.

When we went back to Edmonton, it was with seven boxes each and some lumber. We were really proud of ourselves.”

And the farm with 20 cows in Ladner? It got sold after the war ended in 1945.

Next up, we’re time travelling to the 60s. Specifically 1963, which is when milk chocolate became a thing at Purdys.