DARTMOUTH ORIGINALS – MEET KIRAN
Dr. Kiran Pure runs a thriving psychology practice in downtown Dartmouth, in the same building that once housed her mother’s dress shop, Sara Ladies Boutique. The original sign now hangs in the hallway of Dr. Pure and Associates as a reminder of the building’s past life, but it’s not likely she will ever forget the place. Since the age of 15, Pure worked nearly every day of her life at 90 Portland Street.
How Pure’s parents came to own the building is quite a story. Her family immigrated to Canada in 1972 from the United Kingdom, where her parents lived when they were first married. Pure’s father Resham was raised on a farm in the Fiji Islands, her mother Lakhvinder was raised in Punjab. The couple came together as a result of an arranged marriage.
“My mom was married at age 17 and had both of her kids by the time she was 20,” says Pure.
The Pure family settled in Halifax, where her father found work as a cab driver. Pure says neither of her parents had the opportunity to finish high school, but they were gifted and determined entrepreneurs. For several years, the family ran Pure’s grocery on Livingston and Agricola Streets in Halifax.
“My parents did not have a lot of money, but they were smart and worked hard. They knew how to treat people well,” says Pure.
Lakhvinder Pure in her shop at 90 Portland Street circa 1992
Pure recalls the day she saw her building for the first time. It was 1982. Her father picked up the family in his cab and drove them over to Portland Street in downtown Dartmouth. He stopped in front of a commercial building that had seen better days. It was a gift for Lakhvinder, so she could open her own clothing store.
“My mom started crying because the building was so dilapidated. It looked like an old bowling alley. My dad bought it without telling anybody anything,” says Pure.
After several months of extensive renovations by the family, the shop was ready for prime time. Sara’s Boutique opened in 1983, named after the Punjab word “apsara” which means “beautiful woman.” The store started off with two employees: Pure and her mother.
Newspaper clipping from 1992 showing the exterior of Sara Ladies Boutique at 90 Portland Street
“I worked in the shop immediately, all through high school and 12 hours per day in the summer. My pay was my education, plus an outfit at the end of the week.”
Pure continued to work in the shop while she did her undergraduate degree at Dalhousie. The only time she wasn’t employed there was while attending the University of New Brunswick to obtain her master’s and PhD in psychology, and when she opened her first practice in Bedford.
“My father became very ill with cancer in 2002, so my mom decided to close the shop. She asked me if I would move my practice into her shop, so I did.”
In the summer of 2004, Pure converted the dress shop into the psychology practice she still owns today, which specializes exclusively in child psychology. She says it’s a dream come true, and the words “child psychologist” appear under her photo in her Halifax West High School yearbook. Pure says a passion for helping people is something she learned from her parents’ example.
“When we arrived in Canada, we were one of the first east Indian families in Brampton, where we lived before moving to Halifax. I remember, there would be immigrants in our house constantly. At one point, my father had invited an entire ship full of Sikh men into our home!”
Dr. Pure stands in her office in front of her mother's shop sign, that hangs in the hallway of her psychology practice
Pure says she has a soft spot for children because she was an anxious child growing up. Today, Pure often goes the extra mile – literally – to create an environment where her young patients can feel at ease during their appointments.
“During the pandemic, many of my clients felt anxious on Zoom so we started doing walking sessions. I would get 100 kilometres per week, with children who didn’t know Dartmouth. So many of the children enjoy this format, we have kept these walks going,” says Pure.
Dr. Pure and Associates has evolved over the years, so has the business' vision. This month, the iconic colourful gears will come down from the front of the building, to be replaced with a new sign designed by downtown Dartmouth’s Skyline Studios. The new branding features an anchor, which nods to the Maritime location, but carries a more significant meaning.
Dr. Pure's brand new logo designed by downtown Dartmouth's Skyline Studios
“Anchoring is a psychological technique that can be used to regulate emotions, such as when anxiety or overwhelm takes over. We use this to help children and teens gain a sense of agency and regain control of their actions.”
Pure says she would love to be able to grow the practice to meet the ever-increasing demand for youth psychological services. She receives up to 30 referrals a day, from people all over the Atlantic region.
“I love what I do. And I love that I get to do it in downtown Dartmouth, in the shop my parents created together nearly forty years ago.”
Portrait of Dr. Pure (RIGHT) by James Arthur MacLean Photography