Posted by: Harold Sprott
This excerpt from April 1979 OSCAR tells of the local business establishment: J.D. Gervin & Sons Ltd.
Strolling down Bank St, on a balmy spring evening, when you get to the Cameron Ave. area—Trinity Church, Hillary’s, The House of Era, and the Savannah, you’ll see Gervin’s—the plumbing and heating business of J. D. Gervin & Sons Ltd. a real Ottawa South landmark. The Gervin firm has been at its present location, 1227 Bank St., at the north-east corner of Bank and Cameron since 1953 – and that’s a long time. But the business is much older than that.
Douglas Gervin started to work as an apprentice with J. P. Bond in 1908. In 1915, as a journeyman plumber, he borrowed $300 from his mother, and set up shop as a plumbing and tinsmithing business at 1095 Bank St. near Sunnyside.
The new firm, which operated for a brief period as a partnership, Gervin and Hodgins, soon branched out into warm sir heating, and later, to oil burners. With the move to its present premises in 1953, and incorporation in 1954, the business expanded rapidly.
His sons, Walter and Keith, licenced plumbers, were taken into the firm at that stage, and have supported their father in maintaining a tradition of service to Ottawa South and the Ottawa Community at large. Over a period of 64 years, Gervin’s has earned a fine reputation for dependability and competence.
A sign displayed prominently in the company office reads: “Goodwill is the one and only Asset that competition cannot undersell or destroy”. The Gervins, father and sons, firmly believe that this statement is true, and it has always been one of their guideposts.
The tinsmithing part of the business was closed out about five years ago, and the plumbing and heating sales and service operation is now catering to renovations and maintenance.
As a reflection of inflation and rising prices over the years, Mr. Gervin provided us with some interesting comparisons. The chargeout rate for labour in 1915 was 60 cents an hour; now it is $24.50.
As to materials: a hot water heater, $4.75 in 1915, is now $100.00; a bathtub, $15.60 in 1915, is now $148.00. But every doctor, dentist, plumber, charges more, and every worker is paid more. And remember – plumbers still make house calls!
Douglas Gervin, now 85, still comes to work everyday, but allows himself to have shorter hours. May the years continue to rest lightly on your broad shoulders, Mr. Gervin, and our beat wishes to you, your sons Walter and Keith, and the staff of J. D. Garvin & Sons Ltd., our neighbours in Ottawa South.
Originally published in the OSCAR April 1979.