Scrim's Florist - Susan
Scrim’s Florist has been around for over 140 years. Have all of those years been spent on Elgin Street?
Scrim's Florist was established in 1874 by Charles Scrim and opened it's first retail business on Sparks St. We have a receipt in the shop of an order placed by Charles from Stewarton Nurseries in 1876. Those greenhouses were located on what is now Catherine. For a few years the shop moved to Slater, but that building was scheduled for demolition and my uncle, Paul Chandler and Miss Flora Scrim moved Scrim's Florist in 1974 to it's current location at the corner of Elgin and Somerset. My uncle told me that at the time he worried they had moved too far from downtown.
What is special about Elgin Street?
Elgin street is the centre of Centretown. Elgin begins at the foot of the East block, past the prime ministers office, the National war memorial, NAC, City Hall, churches, schools, pubs, apartments, and small businesses, I love the urban yet neighbourhood feel. I work and chat with students, embassy staff, retired folks, people less fortunate than many of us, and I love all of it.
How and when did you come to own this historic flower shop? And tell us about the beautiful paintings displayed at your store.
In 2006 I came to visit my Uncle Paul, my mother's brother and one of the most generous and gorgeous men you would ever meet. My father always called him "Cosmo" short for cosmopolitan, and he was, a gentleman with style and heart. Long story short, I already loved Paul and after I hung around for awhile to help out in the shop, I fell in love with Scrim's. I had no retail experience, but had spent a career in nursing so working with people came naturally to me, it was the managing of a small business and floral design that was the steep learning curve for me. I loved visiting Paul in the evening and telling him stories of the day.
The portraits in the shop are of Charles and Margaret Scrim. I had them restored a few years ago cause I think they are awesome.The locket and pocket watch pictured in the paintings are in my jewelry box. The large painting at the front of the shop is "Scotland Forever". The original was painted by Elizabeth Thompson,
Gladwell, Malcolm. (2016). "The Lady Vanishes". - Episode 1, Season 1, Revisionist History Podcast. http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/01-the-lady-vanishes
Mr Scrim was a first generation Canadian emigrated from Scotland and as the shop prospered he commissioned a reproduction of "Scotland Forever" by an artist in Windsor, On. How cool is that?! Sometimes folks comment that it doesn't seem right for a flower shop.....but I think it's perfect!
When you aren’t creating beautiful arrangements and running the shop, what do you do for fun?
I love the out of doors and in my younger days spent hours and hours walking. These days I am more likely to enjoy a bit of a stroll. I am one of 7 children and so I have lots of keeping in touch to do, I visit them in the States and they all come to the cottage in the summer with their children and grandchildren. Everyday we take a "big swim" with and without noodles but always with great camaraderie. And, of course, Netflix and podcasts.
What is your favourite memory on Elgin Street?
Well, up until recently I would have said having a piece of toast with my Uncle Paul at the Mayflower. So many folks stopping by to chat. Someone would stop by for a chat and after they had gone Paul would tell me something like" now that is Norma, and she married a fellow who grew up on Florence, they were a big family and he worked at National Defence with your Aunt Barb, I was at a party at their place etc. etc....It was such a small town in seemed. Working on the idigelgin campaign has introduced me to new folks and new fond memories. Working with customers for the past years has provided me with new friendships and memories of Elgin.
How many floral arrangements are prepared at Scrim’s in the average year?
Alot! We do lots and lots of arranging as well as cut flower bouquets, plants and giftware.
Do you have a favourite place for coffee or lunch on Elgin?
The businesses on Elgin Street seem like a community. How is it important to Scrim’s to support that local community?
Supporting local is something I believe in strongly. We AlWAYS respond to request for donations from St. John's, The Well, Knox Church and are very happy to be involved in the Idigelgin campaign. We buy lunch for the shop at least once a month from Pure Kitchen or East India. I miss Boushey's a lot as it was definitely my go to grocery.
Scrim’s has provided arrangements for some prominent people and events in Canadian History. Is there a celebrity you would dream of providing an arrangement for?
Why do you choose to have your business on Elgin?
Can you imagine a better location? The windows, the neighbourhood, we have a great landlord, and sooooo much space. Scrim's is a landmark used by folks when they are giving directions. I love sweeping the front stoop and chatting with folks as they walk by. Our lead designer does a wonderful job in creating window displays that everyone enjoys. I feel as tho I am the steward of Scrim's and will ferry it along on the corner of Elgin and Somerset until someone else has the great joy of continuing the journey.