a bar walks into an archive …

a small grocery store c1946 in Quebec. About a decade later bar codes began up here identifying each product.

Toronto. … well, you may know the story. If not, my good friend, George Dunbar, offers this wording from the LAC up in Gateaux, QC (once called Hull), “Library and Archives Canada (LAC) – 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the barcode! The first Canadian scan was at a grocery store in Dorval, Quebec in 1974.”. Dorval is a suburb of Montreal and home to its closest airport.

The photo here, also from the LAC, is a typical Quebec ‘corner’ grocery store back in 1946. Note the casual smoking in the store and the tobacco advertising. As a kid, I remember being sent to just such a store in a small Ontario town for groceries.

We consider the bar code common place today and regularly see the shop owner or cashier casually scan each item purchased. A computer ‘reads’ the scan and prints the appropriate product name and price. Gone are the days when the owner/cashier typed in the product  price to a cash register or wrote the details in a carbon paper receipt book.

Photographs are the basis for these work place events, now long past (at least in grocery chains and large stores). Every product has a unique bar code and a price as decided by the seller. Collectors of photos often value such work place photos either as part of a collection or the focus of one.


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