City Recognizes Canby Businesses that Have Served Community 50 Years or More

May is Historic Preservation Month which the Canby Heritage and Landmark Commission typically uses as an opportunity to host an event or activity that draws attention to the importance of preserving Canby’s heritage.

This year, given the enormous challenges facing Canby business owners due to the Covid-related economic downturn, the HLC decided it was more fitting to recognize the city’s heritage businesses: enterprises that have weathered difficult times and served our community for 50 years or more.

HLC Chair Jennifer Giller said the commission used criteria established by the Willamette Falls and Landings Heritage Area, which includes Canby. Any company operating in the community for 50 years in the same line of business qualifies for recognition, even if the ownership and name have changed.

Some of the businesses, such as Canby Plumbing, the Canby Herald, Canby Ford and DirectLink, are over a century old — meaning they have experienced not one global pandemic, but two.

“They have survived two World Wars, a Great Depression and Great Recession, a volcanic eruption, multiple devastating floods, and the incredible social, cultural, and technological changes that have reshaped the business environment,” said HLC member Judi Jarosh. “In this incredibly difficult time, they are great examples of resilience.”

Canby businessman Grant White (on the right, holding hat) with Ford executives and Fair officials at the 1927 Clackamas County Fair. White was co-founder and owner of the White & Scheer Garage, which later became Canby Ford. Photos courtesy the Canby Historical Society.

As is true today, survival depended not only on a combination of business acumen and creative adaptability, but also on community support. An amazing example of the power of that support occurred during the Great Depression.

When banking regulators were about to shut down the area’s only financial institution, Canby State Bank, community residents gathered together to save it. Led by a coalition that included the Odd Fellows, Masonic Lodge, Chamber of Commerce, and city council, residents added $75,000, the equivalent of $1.3 million today, to the bank’s deposit accounts in less than 24 hours.

Canby State Bank continues to serve the town as the local branch of Wells Fargo.

To compile Canby’s list of heritage businesses, HLC member and project lead Carol Palmer worked with Canby Historical Society President Nora Clark.

“We found a 1970 telephone directory and a 1969 Chamber of Commerce membership list at the Depot Museum,” Palmer said. “Even though the list was reviewed by several long-term residents, I believe we may be missing some businesses who deserve recognition. We are looking for input from the community to ensure we have a complete list.”

With most of the major events that generate revenue for many of Canby’s businesses canceled this summer, the HLC encourages residents to continue to show their support for our business community.

“This will be a difficult summer for many, but we can make a difference,” Giller said. “I cannot think of a better way to support historic preservation not just in May but throughout the balance of this year.”

If you know of businesses that should be added to Canby’s heritage business roster, please contact Carol Palmer at carolpalmer24@gmail.com.

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