In its earliest years, druggists, clothiers, jewelers, and plumbers were the Archibald’s primary tenants. Its most notable came in 1912, however. That’s when Morie & Company moved in. A confectionary and fresh fruit wholesaler, it was founded by brothers and recent Lebanese immigrants, John Assad and Fred Assad Morie.
While the two were only in their early twenties, it was clear they knew how to run a business. Far and wide they became known as the “Fruit Kings.” Their selection was good and their quality even better. Every summer was marked by the extravagant outdoor displays they doctored, where produce literally flowed out onto the sidewalks — it once resulted in a fine for public obstruction.
The two brothers worked out of the Archibald for the better part of eight years. During the Great War, while Fred served overseas, John ran the store alone. Ultimately, they decided to try their fortunes elsewhere and in 1922 sold the business to head north. They opened a small trading post at Fort Smith and Fort Fitzgerald. Both Morie boys returned to Edmonton in time. Fred retired from the family business in 1939. John followed in 1950.
Fred had been a prominent activist and strong community advocate. Through his efforts alone, he transformed a derelict community dump along Saskatchewan Drive into “a beautiful park with level greenery in summer, park benches and trees, and a 70-foot steel flagpole.” For his efforts the City christened the area after him in 1965. Sadly, John had passed five years prior. Fred followed in 1981.
As a statement of significance later wrote, through the Archibald Block there’s a tangible link “with Alberta’s early Arabic-speaking business community.” The Mories’ experience “is a significant part of Alberta’s history and the Archibald Block reflects the important contributions of this immigrant merchant community to Alberta’s growth and development.”
The Fruit Kings