Since 1946, and for three generations, Hamilton’s IGA has been serving Ponoka residents and that hard work earned the store a Canadian Independent Grocer award.
Owner Jim Hamilton and his mother Peggy travelled to Toronto, Ont. for the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers awards ceremony to receive the Arnold Rands Heritage Award, which grants special acknowledgement to independent grocers that have been in operation for at least 35 years. Hamilton said only grocers with at least two generations of family ownership are eligible. He added that it was an honour to receive the award but he could not help but think about his son Tom, who passed away recently.
“It was bittersweet because I’m the third generation,” explained Hamilton.
Tom was slated to eventually take over the store and he would have been a fourth generation owner. Hamilton added the store is well known in the community and he was proud to receive the award, which celebrates continuity and longevity.
“It is a very prestigious award because you’re put in with some very elite people,” said Hamilton.
Each year the federation recognizes strong innovations from its membership that enhance how retailers operate.
Jimmy Hamilton, Hamilton’s grandfather, opened Cash Foods in Ponoka in 1946, and 12 years later it became the first IGA in Alberta.
Not long after, Hamilton’s IGA moved to a larger location in 1960. Its location eventually moved to a larger space under the guidance of Peggy and her husband Allen in 1986. Later, a major renovation in 1995 was undertaken with Hamilton becoming the co-owner.
A Halloween prank that got out of hand burned the store down in 1999. A ground-breaking ceremony was held in May 2000 where the store currently sits.