A fire that badly damaged one of the Glebe’s landmark retail outlets — The Glebe Apothecary on Bank Street — is under investigation by Ottawa police as a possible arson.

The neighbouring McKeen Metro Grocery was also closed in the aftermath of the March 24 fire that charred the interior of the drug store and caused an estimated $700,000. The grocery store reopened soon afterwards. There were no injuries in the fire.

A day after the fire, yellow caution tape surrounded the two stores and shattered glass covered the front steps of the apothecary. Notes plastered the windows of the stores telling potential customers that they would be closed pending further notice.

Residents of the Glebe expressed dismay over the destruction of the well-known apothecary, a familiar sight along the Bank Street retail strip with its vintage signage.

Smoke from the fire could be seen in the Glebe. Firefighters managed to prevent the flames from spreading to adjacent properties. [Photo © Jeremy Borg]

Area resident Pierrette Lacoste said she relies on the drug store and the grocery store.

“It‘s on my regular necessities route — specifically those two places,” she said at the time. Until further notice, I’ll have to find an alternative,” said Lacoste.

The Glebe Apothecary has a loyal client base and will be missed during its hopefully temporary closure.

Liz McKeen, editor, Glebe Report

Dylan Fritz, a Glebe resident, said he was impressed with Ottawa Fire Services’ control of the fire.

“When you have two buildings so close together like that, it’s surprising that the fire didn’t get into the Metro,” Fritz said. “The fire department did an amazing job keeping the fire in one building. I couldn’t imagine what would have happened if the fire had been allowed to spread.”

The Glebe Apothecary has been owned by Shoppers Drug Mart for more than a decade, but the store maintained its vintage name and aesthetic, separating itself from other Shoppers pharmacies in the city.

Damage from the fire could be seen from just outside the area cordoned off by firefighters following the Bank Street blaze. [Photo © Jeremy Borg]

The impact of the pharmacy’s closure has been felt by the community as a whole.

“The Glebe Apothecary has had a long and distinguished history in the Glebe, originally as an independent pharmacy. It’s one of the few compounding pharmacies in the city, and it is seen as a trusted part of the community,” said Liz McKeen, editor of the Glebe Report community newspaper.

“The Glebe Apothecary has stepped up to take on new roles in diagnosing and treating minor ailments and immunizations. While there are other pharmacies in the Glebe (another Shoppers’ and Whole Health), the Glebe Apothecary has a loyal client base and will be missed during its hopefully temporary closure.”