The Schurman Building
Supplies company is undoubtedly the success story of
Kensington's business history. Today, the Schurman store
is a familiar and indispensable fixture in towns across
the Island, and in Kensington especially, it is admired
as an example of the town's spirit of industry and
enterprise. The involvement of the Schurman family in
construction can be dated back all the way to the
eighteenth century. A Loyalist fleeing the American
Revolution, William Schurman made his way to Bedeque,
P.E.I., where he began two lumber mills, built small
ships, and also constructed a road to Charlottetown.
Schurman's ascent through the ranks of the company was swift. By 1896, he had bought out the Kensington branch of the lumber and coal business. His first contract was for the new Methodist church in Margate, touching off a string of successful projects for the firm. His brother Major entered into business with him in 1902. By 1907, the prosperous company incorporated and bought out the largest lumber business in Summerside, where it still has its head office today.
M. F. Schurman passed away in 1952. The presidency was assumed by his son Harold, who had himself risen from within the company, serving as a truck driver, machine operator, and plant foreman before assuming the helm. Descendants of M. F. Schurman still own the company.
It is unlikely that Schurman would even recognize his operation today, as it has expanded greatly and diversified into all areas of the construction industry. At one point, Schurman's owned its own truss and window-making operations and also a ready-mix cement plant. Recently, it was involved in the megaproject of constructing the Island's link to the mainland, the Confederation Bridge. The stores which dot P.E.I. offer the customer anything from furniture to lawn ornaments. But some things have not changed: a Schurman's store still stands on Broadway Street Kensington, ready to serve construction needs both large and small.