When a Hairstyle Trimmed Barbers' Profits

Caption from the Lethbridge Herald November 29, 1965:  “SAVING BARBER POLE FOR POSTERITY ~ When the late James and Harold Westbrook put this barber pole in place on 6th St. S. some 40 years ago they probably never dreamed it would end up in the Lethbridge and District Museum. But sidewalk barber poles are relics of the past and this one from the Westbrook Barber Shop is believed to be one of the last in the nation. Left to right are R.E. (Bob) Faulds, present owner of the shop; Andrew Staysko and Chris Gibson, museum officials; city employees Nick Poneck (immediately behind the pole); John Lanning (kneeling with chisel) and Charles Kunz (with hammer); and George McKillop, also of the museum.”   Photo courtesy the Galt Museum & Archives: 19730307000

Caption from the Lethbridge Herald November 29, 1965:

“SAVING BARBER POLE FOR POSTERITY ~ When the late James and Harold Westbrook put this barber pole in place on 6th St. S. some 40 years ago they probably never dreamed it would end up in the Lethbridge and District Museum. But sidewalk barber poles are relics of the past and this one from the Westbrook Barber Shop is believed to be one of the last in the nation. Left to right are R.E. (Bob) Faulds, present owner of the shop; Andrew Staysko and Chris Gibson, museum officials; city employees Nick Poneck (immediately behind the pole); John Lanning (kneeling with chisel) and Charles Kunz (with hammer); and George McKillop, also of the museum.”

Photo courtesy the Galt Museum & Archives: 19730307000

The Galt Museum’s artifact collection began in 1964 with the creation of the City of Lethbridge’s Civic Museum. Since then the object collection has grown to over 13,000 artifacts which illuminate the stories of our city.

An article published on March 6, 1964 in the Lethbridge Herald describes the community donating photographs and objects to fill the museum, which was then housed in the Bowman School. The article mentions the donation of two artifacts that the Galt’s Collections staff are currently researching: “Robert E. Faulds turned up with two straight razors.”

Faulds worked as a local barber for 48 years, beginning his career at the Westbrooks Barber Shop on 6 Street South before starting his own business, “Bob’s Barber Shop.” Throughout his career, he saw many changes to men’s hairstyles. A hairstyle came to Lethbridge in the 1970s that was a particular challenge for traditional barbers, the “long-hair craze.”

The Lethbridge Herald reported on May 20, 1978 that this fad gave barbers “two options: get out of an unprofitable business or stay to see profits severely trimmed.” Some local barbers adapted to the changing industry by painting the word “hairstylist” on their windows “to encourage the younger crowd” and expanding their offerings to include shampoo sinks and “fluff-and-blow dry sets.” Faulds represented the die-hard, traditional barber when interviewed for the article, stating “I’m not in that [styling] business. It’s fine for those who want to do that sort of thing, but I don’t.”

Faulds contributed many artifacts to the museum’s collection of barber materials, including the barber pole that sat on 6 Street South for 40 years from the opening of Westbrooks Barber Shop in 1917 until its donation to the museum in 1965.

You can see all the barber artifacts donated by Robert Faulds in the Galt’s online collections database at https://collections.galtmuseum.com.