About Lorraine’s Pharmacy

Our History

Lorraine Chapeskie, University of Toronto School of Pharmacy graduation photo, 1953In early 1953, Henry J. Chapeskie began construction of the drug store in downtown Barry’s Bay.  His daughter, Lorraine, was to graduate in June from the University of Toronto’s School of Pharmacy.  Lorraine Chapeskie had apprenticed with Tamblyn Drug Stores in Toronto and Ottawa and completed her apprenticeship in Peterborough.  In January, 1954, she, as the sole employee, opened Lorraine’s Pharmacy.

Lorraine remembers:

"I have some pleasant memories of early 1954.  Two pretty little girls out for a walk on Main Street from F. Yakabuski’s Hardware store on a sunny spring day, went to visit Lorraine’s Pharmacy.  Jennifer and Karen Yakabuski – who stopped to look into the big front window at the new drug store and a lady pharmacist looking out at them.  Those were decidedly ‘quiet times,’ when you could count your customers who were in that day, or the next, and also the people out on the main street."

Ron Briggs, University of Toronto School of Pharmacy graduation photo, 1953During her university years, Lorraine met Ron Briggs of Timmins and in May, 1954, Ron and Lorraine married.  After his graduation, Ron was employed as a pharmaceutical salesman for Parke-Davis and Company.  In 1954, Ron joined his wife in Barry’s Bay and he operated the business until his death in July, 1975.

Lorraine recalls those newlywed years:

"Ron and I lived above the original drug store, in an apartment at the back of the building.  The front we rented to Dr. Patrick Dooley in late 1954 — and we were happy to have him as a tenant for several years.  He wrote some of our very first prescriptions.  Dr. Dooley was an old-time GP — who made house visits above and beyond the call of duty.  And many nights Ron kept the doctor company on his late-night calls.  One example was on the ‘coldest night’ in winter to deliver a baby at home on a farm back in the hills of Hardwood Lake.  They had to hike at night on a lonely road in deep snow to reach the farm.  (It was too cold a night to take out the team of horses to meet them!)  But the baby arrived safely, and so did the two men back to Barry’s Bay several hours later."

Original stained glass window, 1954In 1964, the original drug store was vacated and the business moved across the street to where Cat Nap & Lazy Dog Pet Outfitters is presently located.  The pharmacy needed more floor space, which this building provided.  Also in 1964, Lorraine’s Pharmacy became Lorraine’s IDA Pharmacy, as it became a member of the Independent Druggists Alliance retail group.  This enabled the store to carry a broader range of products and later participate in co-operative advertising.  By the 1970’s, the store had become one of the more active businesses in Barry’s Bay.

The next expansion came with yet a further relocation of the business in 1984.  Lorraine’s Pharmacy moved back across the street into a brand new 3,600 square foot building.  By this time, a second generation of Briggs pharmacists had joined the business. Son Chris was now a full-time employee and would soon purchase the pharmacy from his mother, Lorraine, in 1986.

Lorraine’s Pharmacy completed an additional major expansion in 1994.  The renovation added 3,000 more square feet and where once the business had but one employee; it now employs a staff of almost 30 people.

In 2005, Lorraine’s Pharmacy became Lorraine’s Pharmasave with further renovations to better serve customers and improve the efficiency of operations in the compounding lab, nursing home services, patient counseling area, and front store merchandising, not to mention a new and modern design and colour scheme for the entire store! Many long-time customers of Lorraine’s Pharmacy will often comment that Ron Briggs would certainly have been proud of today’s pharmacy.

"He certainly would have been proud," agrees Lorraine. "It's hard to believe that over 60 years have gone by since we first opened Lorraine's Pharmacy in Barry's Bay."

— from Notes of Lorraine Briggs, 2014


(To learn more about the history of Barry's Bay, click here or here.)