Roy J. O’Brien was orphaned at the age of three and was sent to live with his two aunties, Ivetta and Angela O’Brien. Together they raised him in the heart of downtown St. John’s. In 1908, Ivetta O’Brien opened her business at 278 Water St., The Ivy Hotel. The main floor was a confectionary and the top two floors was a hotel. But in 1939 Ivy passed away. Roy was able to find financing and a backer to help him purchase the building and the business from his aunt’s estate. Over the following couple of years, Roy bought, repaired and sold many used instruments, His ultimate goal was to operate a music store. Mission accomplished. He enjoyed playing music, with his favourite instruments being the tenor banjo and the button accordion.
This is where he would meet Nellie Crocker from Southside Rd. and together, they happily raised six children in their home above the store. Roy’s brother in law, Alex, was the only other person to work with him until his son, Gordon, started in 1969. In the spring of 1990, Roy Sr.’s life quickly came to an end. He left the business to his two sons, Gord and Roy Jr.. Gord now owns and operates the business himself. He recently bought out his brother’s share, who spent a little over two decades in the shop. Over the years, the brothers had some of their nephews work with them, on and off. Gord married Rhonda Cunningham from Flower Hill and their twins started working in the store as soon as they were old enough.
Today, Michael and Angela work with their father Gord, and are proud to be the fourth generation of O’Brien’s in the building.