PORT AUX BASQUES, NL – Long before the word entrepreneur ever became trendy, Edgar Allen was exactly that. He’s been cutting hair since he was 16 and still in high school, and 48 years later he’s still cutting hair.
“When I used to come home Friday afternoons, there’d be 8 or 9 fellows lined up by the house waiting for me,” recalls Edgar.
He comes by the trade honestly. His father, John, used to cut hair using an old pair of hand clippers.
“I applied for trade school in St. John’s,” says Edgar. “But I never got accepted.”
That was back in 1961. In 1968 Edgar was in Labrador and applied again, this time for trade school in Corner Brook. This time he was accepted, and after graduation he set up shop in a small building next to the Bank of Nova Scotia on Main Street.
After 4 years he bought his current building, which used to have a beauty shop / barbershop run by a husband and wife team.
Before the cod moratorium and when CN was still running ferries across the Gulf of St. Lawrence, there was plenty of hair to be cut. Edgar can recall a time when the town had 5 barbershops operating at once.
“I’ve seen some changes,” says Edgar, who laughingly blames the Beatles for a memorable lean spell. “That’s when everybody let their hair grow long. We had some bad years.”
Parents even stopped bringing their kids in because of the band’s hairstyles.
“If you had a baby boy, he was about 3 or 4 years old before he got his hair cut!”
Somehow Edgar outlasted the hippie hairstyles and his competitors. “I survived it. I made a living on it. I raised a family onto it and I enjoyed it. If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t be here now.”
Edgar says he loves the actual work itself, but a large part of that appeal is meeting people. Some of his regulars will drop by for a chat, whether they need a cut or not.
During the tourist season he meets plenty of American tourists, though lately he steers clear of political chitchat.
“I asked a guy this summer about Trump and he shut right up,” said Edgar, who says tourists are usually far more gregarious.
In the fall he tends to get the moose hunters looking to clean up after spending a couple of weeks in the woods.
The seasons and customers may come and go, but Edgar shows no signs of doing the same.
“I haven’t made up my mind yet when I’m going to retire.” He’s still having too much fun. “I hear some good stories!”