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Wrigley’s Chewing Gum and Camel Cigarettes at the Brown Derby

Black and white archival photograph. Street view. Looking west on Main Street, Windsor. Brown Derby, King Edward Theatre, A. Peckford, S. Cohen & Sons, and Purity Cafe visible. Kirk Pomeroy is carrying a birch broom, Daisy Bennett is wearing a light coat, and Mrs. Pomeroy is pushing a stroller.

Brown Derby. 1944.


“My grandfather moved here, P.J. Connors, in 1905. He worked with the Reid Newfoundland Railway and he set up the station in what is now the former town of Windsor. They prepared themselves for the opening of the mill. There were a lot of products coming into the area for the construction of the mill and he set up the station and became the first station agent in Grand Falls railway station.”

These are the memories of John Connors.

John’s father Gerald, the youngest son of P.J. Connors, began working on his own at the age of 17 and started The Ideal Taxi Business and a trucking company before setting up a beverage company called Crystal Springs. Gerald ran Crystal Springs between 1940 and 1945 and supplied soft drinks to the armed forces in Botwood. In 1945, he applied to the town of Grand Falls to access proper water and sewage and grow the beverage business. His request was unsuccessful and he was unable to set up business in the closed town.

As John recalls, “In 1943 my father had been in the trucking business and the taxi business. He decided to get into the restaurant business. He happened to be in New York in 1942 to ‘43 and he noticed this restaurant, Brown Derby Restaurant. So that’s where he got the idea. He came home and decided to build a restaurant and that’s what they’d call it, the Brown Derby. So that’s where the name came from.”

Roy Oldford describes the inside of the restaurant: “They had a jukebox and roller seats around the counter. That was a pretty popular place for people to go and have a meal or whatnot, especially if you came in on the train.”

Audio clip with transcript: John Connors describes the start of Brown Derby Wholesale. 

Gerald Connors, and his business partner R.D. Stroud operated Brown Derby restaurant until 1961, when they switched to wholesale. Brown Derby Wholesale moved from Main Street to Hardy Avenue in Grand Falls in the 1980s and continued to operate in 2018. John Connors grew up working in the family business and is still involved. John’s son manages the day-to-day operations, making Brown Derby a third-generation business.