On January 19, 2018, after fifty-seven years on the job, Liverpool barber, Ron Veinot, decided it was time to retire. It is rather amazing to think of a career lasting that length of time, especially when it began in Liverpool with a bit of luck. I had the pleasure of interviewing Ron recently.
He was born in 1931, in Hemford, Lunenburg County. After finishing school, he worked at the Bowater woods camps until a tree fell and crushed his ankle. Ron then worked for Acadia Construction in a gravel pit owned by his parents. They worked out a deal with Acadia Construction that the company could use the gravel pit, providing Ron could have employment. He operated the rock crusher for awhile. As well, his parents owned a farm in Hemford so that was always a possible job, if he wanted it.
But, he and his wife, Deanna, had a baby on the way so he wanted a career that offered a more stable future. In 1960, he began barbering school in Halifax where he graduated on February 10, 1961. His first job cutting hair was in Halifax. City life was not for him so he didn’t stay at that job for very long.
One day, as fate would have it, he happened to be in Liverpool. He remembered going to see a show at the Astor Theater and after leaving it, he took a walk through town. He continued down Market Street and as he went by Wharton’s Barber & Paint Shop, present-day 24 Market Street, he noticed three barber chairs but there were only two barbers.
He went inside and talked to barbershop owner, Max Wharton, about the possibility of getting a job there. Max offered Ron a job and told him to “get his gear and come to work”. Ron remembered that was a Friday, and even though he was still living in Hemford at that time, he decided to take the job in Liverpool. So, on Monday morning, Ron’s barbering career in Liverpool began. Wharton’s Barber Shop now had three barbers, owner Max Wharton, his son, Laurie Wharton and Ron Veinot.
Ron remembered that there was a poolroom, which was located at the back of the barbershop; that was common in those days. It had an entrance from Carten Street, but many guys would come into the barbershop from Market Street and walk through to get to the poolroom. Gene Warrington looked after the poolroom at that time and was there for many years.
Back in the early 1960s, a hair cut would cost 75 cents, a kid’s haircut was 60 cents and a brush cut was one dollar. A shave with a straight razor would cost the same as a cut, 75 cents. He recalled buying a straight razor from a salesman for $3.00. It was good for nine shaves and then, it would need sharpening. Ron always sharpened his own razors and scissors. He stopped using straight razors in the 1970s.
Max Wharton died in 1967 and his son, Laurie, died in 1972, leaving Ron as the only remaining barber. Wharton’s Barber Shop closed. Ron purchased the barber chairs, cash register and more from the Wharton family and started his own business. He remained in the same place where Wharton’s Barbershop had been located. He called it Ron’s Barber Shop. He stayed there for a few years and eventually moved down the street, renting the small brick building that was at one time Snow’s hardware store, presently 36 Market Street.
Over the next few years, Ron had other barbers and hair stylists working at his shop, but the one regular who was always there, was Ron. He had many loyal customers who continued to patronize his business for years. For some families, he had cut the hair of the grandfather, the father, the son and the grandson. He always offered the cheapest hair cuts in town and averaged about forty clients a day.
In 1987, he moved his business to Carten Street where the shop remains to this day. His long-time coworker, Michelle Lemoyne, who has been working at the barbershop for twenty-five years, will continue to run the business. The very same barbershop chairs and cash register that were once in Wharton’s Barbershop can still be seen at Ron’s.
In 2016, Ron was awarded a Master Barber’s certificate, which recognized his many years in the business. Now fifty-seven years since he first started working on Market Street, Ron has hung up his clippers for good. His career that lasted nearly six decades has come to an end and a well-deserved retirement has begun.
He had seen many businesses come and go, but his has continued and is one of the longest running businesses in downtown Liverpool. It is great that his shop is still operating even though he has retired.
Although he has always been a quiet man, he was quick to say it was a “great career”. He will certainly be missed.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org