James “Jimmy” Demetre 1892 – 1979

James (Pergantis) Demetre, better known to all Springhillers as “Jimmy” was born in Anavriti, Greece in 1892.

He was the third son of Stratos and Panagiota Pergantis.  Because of uncertain political conditions in Greece at the time, Jimmy decided to embark on the great voyage to America to see a better future for himself and his family left behind in Greece.  After earning enough money to secure passage to America, Jimmy left Anavriti on a donkey and descend into Sparta and onward to a tiny seaport of Githeon where he boarded the ship, Patreaus, and onward to New York City landing at Ellis Island in 1906.  After securing proper papers, he left immediately by rail to Chicago...his destination.

Jimmy had family in Chicago and lived on Madison Avenue for years.  He started out shining shoes for $100 a year for a relative who also took the liberty of taking all of his tips!  This infuriated Jimmy, so he vowed to move on to a better position.  He landed several jobs, especially in bars and restaurants...Also serving his most dangerous customer “old scar face” Al Capone.  At that time, Chicago was a boom city in manufacturing and printing and Jimmy finally landed a great job at Rand McNally Printers as a sweeper and moved up quickly to the printing press.  Jimmy loved his job, but personal reasons forced him to move to New York City to meet his sister’s family of whom he sponsored to America.  Jimmy stayed in New York for a few years but wonder lust kept him adrift. You see, Jimmy loved the fights and baseball, so he wold travel miles to see a fight or a good game of ball.

Jimmy finally moved on to find other relatives in Montreal, then later migrated to the Maritimes....first opening up a fruit and convenience store in Moncton, N.B.  Because of the Great Depression he fell out of business and migrated to New Glasgow, N.S. to see friends and learn the candy business.  As mention, Jimmy loved baseball!  He soon heard about a great team in Springhill, N.S. called the Fencebusters.  News travelled around Nova Scotia about their success in the local leagues and Jimmy just had to see a game.  He ventured to Lower Main Street to the local field and as he watched the game, he looked around and saw that Springhill was a thriving mining town and seemed in need of a local tobacco and fruit store to cater to miners and their families. 

With the last 2 dollar bill in his pocket, he rented a space on Main Street to start his little business.  After the war, he sponsored the arrival of his beloved sister Martha and her daughter Goldie of who he dearly loved and treated as his own daughter.  Arriving in Springhill in 1949, they proceeded to work in the family business and eventually a bride for Jimmy had arrived from Greece and also a husband for Goldie.  Soon the family was complete.  Jimmy and Tulla (Protonentis) had 3 daughters, Bertha, Kathy and Nicolette.

Goldie and Dino (Vlahos) had 4 children, Bill, Toni, Martha and Georgia.  As the business expanded the homemade candy became the major part of the business and sales to local stores and food chains such as Sobeys, IGA, drug marts and of course, Jimmy never forgot his loyal customers.  He could always be seen making care packages of various candies and sending them to Springhillers stationed in Germany and abroad.  A benevolent man, he always loved Springhill and kindly supported activities in the town and helped several families in need.  He worked until he was 86 years of age until ailing health forced him to retire.  The shortly after, he died on 20 February 1979 after having operated Springhill Candy Kitchen for over 50 years. (submitted by Jimmy’s family)

(left) Jimmy in full Greek Regalia, May 1945 to celebrate the end of WWII and (right) his beloved sister,
Martha (Apostolakos) working in the Springhill Candy Kitchen.


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