For almost 127 years and long before amalgamation, the men of Port Elgin, Saugeen Township, Southampton and beyond, walked through the doors of Eby’s Barber Shop on Goderich Street in Port Elgin. It was a time not just for hair cuts but for the relaxing hot-towel shaves of the day and a chance to meet for a brief social time.
Hiram Eby began the business in 1894 and, in 1903, he saw the future of Port Elgin and invested in the Muir building on Goderich Street.
Through two World Wars, the Great Depression and changing trends in hair cuts, the Eby family barbers carried on their long-lasting tradition.
It was from that early barber shop, with its recognizable red and white striped poles, that he and the young men in his family continued to carry on the family business.
Hiram worked for almost 80 years in the Eby Barber Shop earning the respect of the entire business community.
Following his retirement, his son Basil took over the business followed by his twin sons Barrie and Basil Jr. and, then finally, Barrie’s son Blair.
In 2019, the Eby family celebrated 125 years in business. The Eby name is still legendary in Port Elgin as are the ‘nicknames’ known to many who have frequented the barber shop over the years. For many decades, the twins were known by their nicknames according to their chair locations … Barrie a.k.a. Windeby (chair by the window) and Basil Jr. a.k.a. Walleby (chair by the wall) and then along came Blair who ended up Wannerby (chair in the middle). Today, Blair ‘Wannerby’ is the last of the Eby line of barbers but he continues to carry on the Eby tradition.
While the doors on Goderich Street may have closed, Blair Eby continues at a new location only two blocks away on Mill Street, where a private entrance and ample parking meets the ‘by-appointment’ only needs of customers.
The new location is also in keeping with the new health rules and regulations required in the unprecedented time of COVID. “We have a new surgical air-cleaning filtration system along with complete health measures,” says Blair Eby. “We also want our customers to feel comfortable though, so we also have a warm gas fireplace and large-screen tv.”
Decor details also have meaning. According to Blair Eby, wife Elizabeth took charge of the decor. The walls are clad in grey panels from a former family fence matching the wide-plank flooring and painted soft grey walls. Large windows of what was formerly the family dining room are flanked by grey full-length curtain panels, while the large original archway is painted a brilliant white and a large glass globe chandelier hangs from a Victorian style medallion.
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The barber shop is also a step back in time however with memorabilia from decades of by-gone eras. From the ‘milk-glass-covered signage’ to the tools of his great-grandfather Hiram on display on the fireplace mantle to the hurricane lantern and photos everywhere, Blair and Elizabeth Eby have ensured that the family ancestors are part of the new location.
Tomorrow, Tuesday February 16th, is the official Eby opening given the newly COVID relaxed re-opening restrictions by the Province of small businesses within Grey Bruce as it moves into the ‘yellow’ precautionary stage.
Hours of Operation:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday: 12:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: Morning appointments only