Mike's Barber Shop in Milton changes hands

Friday, 30 May 2014 / Written by  Melanie Hennessey / Be the first to comment!
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It’s a downtown landmark — a place where relationships have been forged and deep thoughts have been shared. A spot where light-hearted conversations and plenty of laughs have been had. Some may even call it a go-to location for men who want to look their best.

But the times, they are a-changin’. After 50 years at the helm of Mike’s Barber Shop, long-time Miltonian Mike Boughton is turning over the reins of his beloved business to Joseph Pedulla as he faces some health issues.

The well-liked local councillor was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year and was advised by his specialist to reduce contact with the public as his immune system is diminished.

Long-time customers needn’t worry though — Boughton will still be working at the shop part-time and isn’t letting his diagnosis bring him down.

“We’re going to beat it,” he told the Champion confidently. “This is not life or death. A lot of people can beat leukemia or keep it under control. Right now I get tired more quickly than I normally would, but I’m feeling good.”

A barber gets his start

Boughton got his start studying barbering at the Provincial Institute of Trades more than five decades ago and has been cutting hair in the downtown core since February 1, 1966 — a time when Milton’s population sat at around 8,000 and a haircut only cost $2.75. Those who stopped by could also get a shave and a shoeshine as well.

“When I first started, there were two staff members and myself,” Boughton recalled. “And in 50 years, I actually only had nine employees. I always said thank you to my staff at the end of the day. If everybody went through life like that, I think it would be a better world.”

Boughton’s customers have shared the same dedication as his staff, with multiple generations of families returning to Mike’s Barber Shop for a hair cut.

“This community has been tremendous to us,” he said. “There are at least 75 families who’ve been with me since I started out. I recently did my fifth generation of the same family — a one-year-old who came all the way from Kitchener for a haircut. They wanted to keep up the tradition.”
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“He only had a few days to live, so I went to visit him in the hospital, and an hour after I left he passed away,” recalled Boughton. “Afterwards, his wife was cleaning out his stuff at home and she came across a bottle of Crown Royal. She called me and said, ‘Mike, I think George would like you to have this.’ And I told her, the day that this shop isn’t Mike’s Barber Shop anymore is the day I’ll open up that Crown Royal bottle and have one sip of it, and everyone else who’s with me can finish it off.”

That day finally came a few weeks ago, and Boughton stayed true to his word.

The married father of two and grandfather of four feels he’s leaving the shop in good hands.

New owner takes reins

Pedulla has been in the trade for 25 years and has worked alongside Boughton over the past few months.

Customers will notice a few changes as Pedulla incorporates his ideas and a new name, Joseph and Mike’s Barber and Styling Shop.

Over the decades, Boughton has seen many changes in the downtown core.

“In my 50 years they’ve redeveloped Main Street four or five times,” he said. “So it could be anywhere from three to nine months where business would be interrupted by one-way traffic, pot holes and water main replacements, and it affected business, but we all survived.”

He added, “A downtown is supposed to have character, and I believe Milton has always had a character Main Street.”

There’s also been a tremendous increase in the number of Main Street hair cutting establishments over the years, going from four back in the day to 19 now between Bronte and Ontario streets.

Boughton said he ended up being very good friends with Tony from Tony’s Barber Shop.

We would help each other out. If one of us was off, we would look after each other’s clientele,” he said. “It’s been a good relationship between two businesses.”

While Boughton prefers to keep a low profile on his good deeds in the community, he told the Champion that he has visited his sick customers at home or in the hospital over the years to give them a free haircut.

“I would never accept payment because they’re worse off than I am,” he said. “Whether it’s a woman, man or child, a haircut seems to make them feel a bit better.”

Boughton can also be found at the hospital on Christmas Eve as he makes his annual trek to distribute stuffed bears to all patients — although he might not be recognizable in his Santa costume.

“When I lock the doors at the shop on Christmas Eve, I think that’s when my Christmas starts,” he said. “Going to the hospital just makes my Christmas. I think everyone deserves to see Santa.”

Over the years, Boughton said the Optimist Club and Fifth Wheel have helped with the purchase of the bears.

The popular barber has also been known to drive around town on Christmas morning and invite police officers on duty for breakfast at his house.

But Boughton made it clear that while he shared these stories with the Champion, he was by no means looking for accolades.

“I’m not patting myself on the back here; this is just me,” he said.

Back at the barber shop, Boughton has honed his abilities to read customers over the years, being a good listener for those who like to chat and granting those who like quiet their wish.

“If a guy gets in my chair with a newspaper or book, he doesn’t want to be spoken to. You’ve got to learn that right off the bat,” he said. “But 95 per cent of customers want to chat. I keep quiet and listen to what a person has to say. They might share personal details, and that’s OK because no rumours get out of my barbershop. It’s just not allowed. I’ve told my barbers you’re not allowed to gossip, so what you hear, you keep to yourself.”

Brush with fame

Over the years, Boughton has also had a few famous people sit in his chair, including hockey legend Johnny Bower and baseball hall of famer Ferguson Jenkins.

So how does Boughton feel about the end of an era for Mike’s Barber Shop?

“I’ve just sold a big piece of my life and I’m sorry to see it come to an end. But good things always have to come to an end,” he said. “This community has been very good to me, my family and my staff. It’s been a good life. I’ve had lots of laughs in the barbershop over the years. And I hope people realize that I always tried to do the best that I could.”

Boughton plans to continue barbering part-time on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. He’s scheduled to start chemotherapy next month.


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Boughton’s customers have shared the same dedication as his staff, with multiple generations of families returning to Mike’s Barber Shop for a hair cut.

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