Bell, Charles Renfrew | 1999

Charles Renfrew Bell Charles Renfrew Bell

Charles Renfrew Bell was born in St. John's on December 1, 1901, the son of the Hon. Samuel K. Bell and M. Ellen (Crosbie) Bell. Charlie was educated at Methodist College School in St. John's; King's College School in Windsor, Nova Scotia; Lower Canada College in Montreal; Royal Military College in Kingston; and McGill University in Montreal.

In 1933, Charlie took over a bankrupt food brokerage business, James Gear Ltd., and from that developed the company now known as Charles R. Bell Limited. He expanded the company's portfolio to include such wellknown household products as Libby's Beans and other Libby Products, Javex Bleach, Cream of Wheat cereal, Cow Brand Baking Soda and Kellogg's Corn Flakes. In 1934, he added a Marine Division to his company representing Outboard Marine.

Charlie had other business interests as well. In 1945, he and his cousin, Ches Crosbie, took over Gaden's Limited which had the franchise to bottle Coca Cola and its own line of soft drinks, Keep Kool. The cousins also teamed up with Edgar Hickman whose family owned and operated the Bavarian Brewing Company, bottlers of such products as Jockey Club, Red Label and latterly, Blue Star beers. This partnership went on to enjoy the largest market share of beer and soft drink products in the province until the companies were sold to Labatt Brewing Ltd. in 1962. The three friends at one time were major shareholders and directors of United Towns Electric, the forerunner to today's Newfoundland Power, Newfoundland Telephone Company and Eastern Provincial Airways.

Charlie was also a generous benefactor to the community, most of which he did anonymously.

Charles Renfrew Bell died in 1983 at the age of 82.

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