For just over 70 years the Forhan family has served their community with a pharmacy and more.
Current owner, Jim Forhan’s grandfather, Oswald, and dad, Thomas, started the present-day store in 1946. The store became incorporated in 1948.
The Forhans were immigrants with roots in Ireland, Scotland and Finland. Jim Forhan joked about his cultural background saying, “I love to have a drink but never buy a round,” he laughed.
Forhan’s father and grandfather were both pharmacists in the business. Oswald was a key player in providing pharmaceutical drugs to the community as well as a driving force in starting the first hospital in Eckville.
Not only did he run the drug store, he also had a hog farm and the mink ranch northwest of Eckville. The mink ranch was the second largest in Alberta with as many as 500 mink at the height of its operation. Known as “Doc”, Oswald helped both sick people and animals since the closest doctor was in Red Deer and there were no veterinarians.
Forhan’s father, Thomas, was born in Eckville. The family moved to Vancouver in 1920 where they stayed until the stock market crash in 1929 then they moved back to Eckville. Thomas apprenticed for three years with his father in the drug store before heading to the University of Alberta where he took pharmacy and graduated in 1939. Known as the “Pill Doctor”, Thomas was also active in the community including 12 years with town council; six of those years as the mayor. An athletic person, Thomas played hockey, baseball, curled, hunted and fished.
When Jim took over in 1995, he decided to simply run the business rather than follow in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps and become a pharmacist.
“[Pharmacy] wasn’t my thing,” Forhan said.
Forhan appreciates his loyal customers and hopes to develop more over time. He said it’s a little tougher now that there are no doctors in the area once again.
Forhan has lived in the area his whole life and has put down some solid roots, building a house in 1996 and raising three daughters in the community.
“It’s not hard to find a good fishing spot and it’s close to the city. It’s a quieter life, ” he said.
Mary Howse has worked with the Forhan’s I.D.A for the past 15 years and has lived in the community her whole life.
“It is a friendly little community and I know everyone,” Howse said.
Howse’s main responsibility is taking care of the gift section which is full of cards, cook books, puzzles, jewellery and more. The store has always had a little bit of everything to provide a variety of products to the community. Originally the drugstore was under the Rexall name but was changed to I.D.A in 1978.