Farmer Jones Carz was a Calgary institution for decades, a used car lot selling well worn el-cheap-o transportation and doing it with a quirky style. The lot was always brimming with old beaters and the iconic sign with its slow-witted looking chubby farmer in coveralls with a sprig of grass in his teeth was a well known landmark. Everything must come to an end though and in 2012 the business closed.
One of the last holdouts from “old” Inglewood, it used to share that neighbourhood with seedy pawn shops, dark second hand stores, auction houses, bottle depots, a dive hotel, and other similar type businesses that tend to thrive in these older depressed areas of town.
Since closing the “beautiful” sales building has sat empty and is likely to be demolished. The neighbourhood it’s located in is experiencing a renaissance of sorts and is becoming quite trendy (read: expensive) and I am sure the lot is likely to be transformed into something up scale. What happened to the sign is unknown.
The rest of the place has been turned into a what is assumed to be, a temporary parking lot.
You’d often see ads for the car lot in the local papers and they always had clever and quirky catch phrases. For example…
“Cash 4 Carz”
“Cash fer Carz”
“I hate munny, I luv carz”
“Stoopid buyer on duty”
And there were many others, all with hillbilly style spelling.
They also plastered their lot with loud signs and they often had ratty old stuffed animals inside the cars along with balloons and flags and other decorations of a tacky nature draped over everything. With traffic on 9th avenue and trains passing right behind the lot, it must have been a noisy place at times.
Prior to this location, back in the 1970s the lot was a block or two east of here on the same street, but on the opposite side (I think).
My stepfather had a strange attraction to this place and back when I was coming into my teen years, he often purchased his cars here. Every one was junk and every one was ugly, but I guess they were cheap and perhaps the company provided financing for those who were a high credit risk (as my stepfather often was). All I can remember is he’d often be cursing the cars he bought from here, and in particular I recall a very junky Ford Cortina that was prone to almost daily breakdowns. It was worthy of only one place, the shredder. Looking at the cars being offered at Farmer Jones more recently, nothing much had changed and old junkers populated the lot.
While they were clearly a success in their earlier days, changing demographics, rising operating costs, cramped quarters, a questionable reputation (whether deserved of not), the death of my step father (their best customer), all conspired to bring this amazing “legacy” to an end. Remains of their website, still listed as under construction, can be found online. There was talk of them finding a new location, but nothing has come about from this.
Seen above the car lot, on a brick building that borders the lots west side, are a number of interesting ghost signs. There is an advertisement for Fred Deeley Cycles, which is barely readable. This company was a large dealer of pedal powered conveyances and they also sold motorcycles. It’s not clear when they pulled out of Calgary, but they also have a Vancouver store which is still in business today under the name Trev Deeley Motorcycles. The signs says Fred Deeley was established in 1914 and it’s assumed these signs are a bit newer then that date – the 1920s perhaps?
Beside it is another advertisement for bicycles, for a brand called Rudge, presumably being sold at Fred Deeley. It proudly proclaims “Ride A Rudge, The World’s Most Reliable Bicycle Since 1869”. This make of bicycle was a well respected and prominent British brand, and through various mergers they were made into the the 1960s and perhaps even later. They also made motorcycles for a time.
Some of the previous two signs are hard to read and some bits are now totally missing or too faded, however I was fortunate enough to find a picture of them from thirty years ago and at that time everything on them was easily readable. That’s how I knew what the impossible to read bits said.
There is a third sign, very faded, which is advertising candies and pastries. This company, likely the old Olivier Candy shop which used to be located in this building but is now a few blocks east, had according to the sign, outlets in Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. This sign is obviously newer than the others.
Seen across the street was an odd line up of Ford Festiva cars. Most were late 1980s or early 1990s models with one “newer” one in the mix. Why they are doing here is anyone’s guess and one has to question, why would anyone want them? They are base model throw-away cars, ones not seen much here, so parts and service must be hard to find. And they are down right plain and homely (IMO). Who ever owns them has the market cornered I guess.
Back to the car lot and my only regret is that I did not photograph the operation while it was in business. It was such a funky place. I’ve learnt my lesson and will make every effort to not be so careless again.
If you have any Farmer Jones experiences, pictures or ads you’d like to share, be sure and let us know. We can happily post them here.
To see the nearby dive hotel mentioned earlier, follow this link…
The Nash aka The National Hotel.
Across the street is an interesting school we explored…
Calgary then and now – Alexandra School
Check out this post…
Genealogists don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date: February, 2013.
Location: Calgary, AB.