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Oldest pharmacy in Ontario closes its doors

Teasel’s Drug Store, the oldest business establishment in Picton and the oldest pharmacy in Ontario, closed its doors Monday. Teasel’s may even be the oldest pharmacy in Canada, having opened in 1829, but there are no registry records to confirm the status.
Teasel’s has been purchased by Rexall family of pharmacies and will be operating out of Pharma Plus. The post office will remain until the end of the month. Its new location has not been announced officially, but is said to be beside the County Farm Centre in the old licence bureau storefront.
Faraneh Akhtari-Erten, pharmacist/owner  and her partner John are planning to open a new store in Toronto in fall 2011 – focusing on marketing and distributing their imports including Rosense and textiles. And she may open a small dispensary in the Beaches area.
The closing of the store and going full circle back to Toronto is bittersweet, says Faraneh.

Faraneh Akhtari-Erten with one of the antique globes from the original store. She says they are filled with green coloured water when the town was free of plague and the water was changed to red when there was plague.

“We know many people in Toronto as well,” she says, “But this was sort of my baby. I had always worked for other people until I came here. I was welcomed here in the County right from the beginning and had the support of many people in the community over the years. Sadly, some have gone, but over the years babies have been born and we’ve been witnesses to many lives from the very youngest to the oldest. The hardest part of this is not letting go of the store, but letting the customers go. Not having them will be like a void in my life.”
Faraheh started as a pharmacist in Toronto in 1992, after immigrating to Canada, from Iran, in 1988. It took her a while to learn how to speak English and she held many odd jobs before getting her licence in 1992 and purchasing Teasel’s in 2003.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time here in the County,” she said. “I got involved in curling and I golfed. I didn’t like golfing,” she laughs. She did enjoy performing with the County Theatre Group and participated in the background chorus, dancing, in Gershwin and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Interesting history of Teasel’s will remain in the County as Faraheh will donate registry and accounting books from as early as the late 1800s to the Macaulay Museum.
It was Dr. R.J. Chapman who founded the business when he came from Rome, N.Y. in 1829. Later, Chapman’s brother-in-law, the late Gideon Striker joined as a partner and the store became known as Striker and Chapman. Striker sold the store to his senior cler, C.B. Allison, a young man then 20 years of age, in 1873 and a few years later Allison bought the building and renamed it the Allison Block. He operated the business until his death in May, 1927 when ownership passed to his son James, who carried on until his death in 1933. Samuel E. Teasel purchased the pharmacy. Mrs. Lucille Teasel operated a tea room at the rear of the store and the two introduced the popular soda fountain – popular with Regent Theatre customers having refreshments after a movie. The curved counter accommodated about 14 people – many who were regulars – exchanging the latest news and gossip over a 10 cent coffee, or milkshake.
Later owners included Bill Jones, Tony Smith, and Martin Sprissler. The store moved to its present location in 1988.

In this photograph from Teasel's Facebook page, Faraneh Akhtari-Erten, (second from left) pharmacist/owner, with the staff, and councillor Bev Campbell, during the launch of the Rosense product line.

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  1. Michael O says:

    Faraneh,
    I believe this must have been a very tough decision for you to make, but it is at times like these when big decisions are made that great things happen. Life is more exciting and dynamic when we make necessary changes. Very few of us are bold enough to make such changes because we belive in staying in our comfort zones and at the end we make very little progress in life.
    I salute your courage and charisma and I don’t have any doubt in my mind that your next move will bring you another life changing success that you crave.
    Bravo and goodluck.

  2. Lori Smith says:

    Sad to see it close and the loss of
    good people from the County.

  3. Lorraine McGiffen says:

    Hi Fareneh,
    So sad to hear you are leaving the County..a real loss for the folks there.
    I found you to be a very caring person and your husband was so helpful delivering our prescriptions….many times you went the extra mile for myself and Bonnie.
    We are glad to have been part of your life in Picton and to have met you.
    We wish you luck in your new endeavours and if in Toronto will certainly come to see you.
    Please give our good wishes to your staff that knew us.
    As you move, best wishes Fareneh….
    Sincerely
    Lorraine and Bonnie

  4. Liz Jones says:

    Kinda sad. I remember my Dad taking me to the soda counter on Saturday afternoons for a coke float!

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