Belbin's co-founder dies

Started grocery store in 1940s on Quidi Vidi road

James McLeod jmcleod@thetelegram.com
Published on December 17, 2009
Photo at left, (from left) Brothers and grocery store founders Douglas, Edgar and Fraser Belbin at a store Christmas party in the 1970s. Belbin's Grocery is now run by Douglas's son, Chris Belbin, and Edgar's son, Robert Belbin. Photo at right, Edgar Belbin in the early days of Belbin's Grocery on Quidi Vidi Road, St. John's, circa 1943. - Photos courtesy of the Belbin family

Edgar Belbin, who along with his father founded Belbin's Grocery on Quidi Vidi Road died this week.

He was 88-years-old.

For 43 years, Edgar managed the store alongside his brothers Douglas and Fraser, until the trio sold it to the next generation of Belbins in 1986.

Edgar Belbin, who along with his father founded Belbin's Grocery on Quidi Vidi Road died this week.

He was 88-years-old.

For 43 years, Edgar managed the store alongside his brothers Douglas and Fraser, until the trio sold it to the next generation of Belbins in 1986.

"Belbin's is the only store to survive the big supermarkets, the only grocery store," said Robert Belbin, Edgar's son who operates the store. "Our direction is still the same as what dad and them carved out in 1943."

The store was started by Edgar and his father, Robert George Belbin in the mid-1940s.

Up until then Edgar had worked for the railway claims department, and his father had worked for Ayre & Sons managing their grocery department.

"Grandfather was the manager of the grocery department, but he was coming down with a serious case of rheumatoid arthritis to the point where he couldn't really report to work," Robert said. "Out of necessity Dad, with his energy and Grandfather, with his experience, they teamed up."

They gutted the front room of the family house on Quidi Vidi Road and open up Belbin's Grocery where it still sits today.

"There was no super plan, it was just hard work and dedication," Robert said.

"He came home tired every day, but he worked - he did a good job and he laid a good foundation - and we're still there today."

Shortly after the store opened, Robert Belbin Sr. died, and his three sons partnered to run it until they retired in 1986.

The store was sold to Edgar's two sons, Robert and Peter, and their cousin Chris, who was Douglas' son.

After that Edgar still regularly helped out at the store, often coming in to work the cash register.

He also dedicated plenty of time to his garden at his home in St. Philip's.

"I'm not sure Dad's mix of work time and recreation time was very good for the first part of his life - he worked a lot," Robert said. "Especially as he retired he loved his garden, he loved his family."

Edgar is survived by his wife of 61 years, Shirley.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com