Just as our artistic and creative communities contribute to the liveliness and liveability of the city, local businesses are also part of what makes St. John’s so great. Some of them have been around for so long that they feel like part of the family, or that friendly neighbour who you look forward to chatting with over the clothesline.
It’s businesses like Templeton’s, located along the waterfront in downtown St. John’s, that help make this city so colourful, in more ways than one. Having been in business since 1870, the store has long been a trusted go-to source for paints, stains, flooring and other home decorating supplies, with the warmth and friendliness one would expect from a local, family-run business. And as of late, Templeton’s has also been a hot spot for creativity. Enthusiasm for the arts is something that runs in the family says Dave Templeton who, along with his cousin John, has been at the helm of the business for the past 15 years.
“Anna Templeton, my aunt (who the Anna Templeton Centre For Craft Art & Design on Duckworth Street is named after), she went around the island to promote crafts and arts and those type of things, and promote new artisans. And that’s what she did for a living, and she did it with such a passion that she’d often use her own money to do what she felt needed to be done. So we’ve always had some connection with those type of activities,” says Dave.
Lately, some of those activities include contributing to Business & Arts NL’s “Come Play With Me” public piano project. The third and latest piano, which now sits at Memorial University’s food court, is a true symbol of community collaboration. Donated by the Strawbridge family and sponsored by Penney Auto Group, it was housed at Templeton’s for several months while local artist Benjy Kean painted it on site. Templeton’s provided not only the space for the piano, but also the paint supplies for its decoration.
“Customers would come play it all the time…and they’d be only too happy, while their paint was being shook, to sit down and serenade the whole store,” says Dave.
“We’re more than happy to participate in that on a whole lot of levels. Like I just said, about the customers who go in and play at random – then also there’s interaction between the customers and the artist about what products they’re using to decorate the piano, and then there’s the interaction of our staff and the artist…And then there’s a huge discussion about the music itself. Everybody comes at it from a different angle.”
Templeton’s is getting ready to house and help prep yet another piano, and is open to helping artists make their mark in other ways. In 2004, Templeton’s donated the paint and materials to restore the Golden Pheasant Tea mural on the side of the old Turner’s Tavern at the bottom of St. John’s Lane. Templeton’s also donated materials for the creation of another mural on the sewer pumping station along Harbour Drive (both murals have since been removed).
“Years ago, somebody had the side of a building and you’d basically sell it as advertising space,” Dave says.
“If someone in the private sector wanted to do a mural again, on the side of their building or some other building…we’d be happy to participate.”
For businesses like Templeton’s, lending a helping hand to local artists is just one way of keeping community spirit alive and well. As Dave says, “you’re just supposed to support your neighbours.”
“This is where we live.”