Digging into the history and legacy of Groves Pharmacy 

By Stephanie Olson

A new display at the Camrose and District Centenial Museum will chronical the history of the Groves Pharmacy. Supplied 

A new display at the Camrose and District Centenial Museum will chronical the history of the Groves Pharmacy. Supplied 

You never know what will land at the Camrose and District Centennial Museum's door — sometimes it's just what the doctor ordered. 


Barry Galenza contacted the museum at the end of May regarding some pharmaceutical artifacts that his family had accumulated during the time they owned and operated the Groves Pharmacy.  

He asked if the museum could possibly take the items, and after talking with Galenza, it was clear he had some precious items that were very relevant to the museum’s mission of preserving Camrose history so we decided to take a look.  

A week later Museum staff went to the basement of what once was Groves downtown and began digging through the history. We were shocked to find so many well preserved pharmaceutical items dating from the late 1800s to the 1970s. While the museum does its best to limit what it brings in we found our supply of pharmacy equipment lacking. We acquired many items over the course of several days rooting through the pharmacy basement.  

Currently, we are working on cleaning, and accessioning (numbering, cataloging, and photographing) each item before we can put them on display. Items displayed will include everything from Syrup of Squillto a collectible warm nut machine. The pharmacy display will hopefully be ready for Canada Day and will be a relatively permanent fixture in the Old Timers Hut.  

The display will house items and information from the Bert Groves pharmacy, as well as donations from the Castor pharmacy museum. The Groves drugstore has a long history in Camrose. Groves began in the early 1900s and was known as “Bertles” Drugstore after the first owner Hugh Bertles. He sold the pharmacy to Bert Groves in the early 1940s and the store was known as Bert Groves Drug up until 1962 when Mr. Groves sold it Gerry Galenza and his wife Sandra. Under Gerry Galenza the pharmacy’s name was then shortened to Groves Drug Store. The store started out with 1,200 square feet and expanded over time. During the late 1960s the building was expanded to the back alley increasing its size from 1,200 to 2,500 square feet. Beside Groves was another pharmacy which Gerry purchased and further expanded the pharmacy in the mid-1970s (now 5,000 square feet). Under Galenza the name of the drug store changed several times.  

Over the course of several decades Groves Drug became Groves Rexall Drug Store then Groves Western Drug Mart and finally Groves Value Drug Mart (1983). Gerry Galenza’s son Barry and his wife Janet Galenza purchased the store and Gerry retired in 1995. Barry Galenza sold the pharmacy to Brian and Melissa Thiessen (2010) which they recently sold to IDA (2018). 

The museum display will highlight the pharmacy as it was operated by the Galenzas. The display will also include a write up of an interview done recently at the museum of Galenza Sr. where he discusses the history of the pharmaceutical profession in Canada as well as some lighter and more humorous stories of life as a pharmacist. 

Make sure to stop by this summer to check out all that is going on at the museum and dig into Camrose's history. 


Stephanie Olson grew up in Camrose and I am going into my 3rd year as a history major at Augustana 



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