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A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

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  • A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

    I just came across a reference to Gibbards Furniture Shops of Napanee and how they were Canada's oldest furniture maker until closing in 2009:
    The Gibbard Furniture Shops Limited in Napanee, Ontario was Canada’s oldest furniture factory of 173 years until they closed their doors in 2009. Founded by cabinet maker John Gibbard who moved to “The Napanee” in 1835. He leased a mill on the same canal that runs through the Gibbard plant and began manufacturing furniture, coffins and various other items for the local farming community. The Gibbard family kept control of the Gibbard company for four generations. It was purchased by Jack McPherson in 1940, who had worked as a Sales Manager with Gibbard in the 20s.

    The company launched its flagship brand of cherry and mahogany furniture in 1964, the Canadian Legacy collection. This brand was sold by retailers from Kingston, Ontario to Madrid, Spain. Gibbard furniture is in use in seventy different Canadian embassies and high commissions worldwide.....

    The Gibbard property has recently been purchased, renovated and renamed to the Gibbard District “honouring Napanee’s historic landmark by transforming it into a waterfront residential space with retail opportunities”

    Rumour has it even Sir John A. MacDonald wrote on a Gibbard desk, so if you come across one you may want to research its provenance.
    Source of the above.

    It occurs me to me that many of us will come across pieces of furniture we want to repair, restore or just know more about - is this a subject we could have a forum category for?

    I for one, would like to know what happened to the records from Gibbard, pattern books etc. etc.

    Last edited by Smarts Brockville; 06-20-2021, 01:32 PM.
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  • #2

    Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

    I have no knowledge to add to the conversation but would be interested to learn anything and everything related to the history of Canadian woodworking/furniture making etc.

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    • #3

      Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

      My paternal grandmother was a wee girl in england where her family had a hard time surviving on her fathers pay as a railroad worker. They answered an advert to come start a new life in canada and made the trip over. They found, however, that they were basically tricked by a farmer. Rather than apprenticing them and the other families, the farmer made them work all day for no pay, sleep several families together in the barn at night, and not have enough food. My grandmother remembered the men sneaking out of the barn at night to steal eggs from the farmer which my great grandmother would cook for them. After a time my great grandfather decided enough was enough, and they snuck away during the night. He had heard he had a distant cousion settled in Listowel Ontario, so they spent the last of their money on train tickets there. When they arrived he tracked down his cousin, and as they walked down the street get acquainted the cousin noticed a man striding towards them and said "here's someone you'll want to meet" and then introduced him as Andrew Malcolm, son of the founder of the local Malcolm Furniture Company. Mr. Malcom welcomed my great grandfather to town and said "if you've just arrived, I supposed you'll be looking for work?" To which ny great grandfather agreed, so Malcolm replied "fine, be at my factory tomorrow bright and early" . My great grandfather worked there the rest of his life, and we have a malcom bedroom set that we inherited which my eldest now uses.
      Egon and LeftFinger like this.

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      • #4

        Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

        Brand from inside top drawer:
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        • #5

          Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

          Ryan… what is the word before “built furniture”? My eyes aren’t what they used to be and my imagination is limited!! Roy
          Are you solving the problem, or becoming part of it?

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          • #6

            Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

            It's hard to tell in person too, Roy! I think it is probably "better" , as in "better built furniture"

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            • #7

              Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

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              • #8

                Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

                Ryan & Jim… thanks for the info, Roy
                Are you solving the problem, or becoming part of it?

                Comment


                • #9

                  Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

                  This "kitchen" dates from the 20s
                  I have seen some beautiful iceboxes with the Paris Name

                  Somewhat redone

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                  • #10

                    Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

                    that Paris piece does look to be 1920's and is probably valuable. sadly it was painted in and that requires some work to strip it, but might have been milk paint originally or maybe not painted.

                    Its from back when a person moved and took the cabinets with them as opposed to the built ins like today and could be compared to a "hoosier" and you can google that.

                    funny name , sounds like hoosier daddy ;-) They are quit sought after by people with houses of that period and perhaps by "tiny house people" as they are so well planned out to save space.
                    ive seen them go quite hgh at auction with the "hoosier" name, that's probably a competitor from the same era. unfortunately "paris" is a common name so harder to research.
                    Last edited by stickman; 07-09-2021, 04:42 PM.

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                    • #11

                      Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

                      I have quite a few old radios that were canadain made. Rogers is one maker that is Canadian and westinghouse and many others also made Canadian radios. one of my favorites is the clock radios made by westinghous in 1929 called the "columair" I have thre of them , one is restored. they made a few models and all sported an AM radio and an electric clock built into a grandmother style clock tower

                      The bay made baycrest, eatons and woodwards had house brands. one that was made here in Vancouver was Chisolm. a lot of radios were made in the radio boom of 1929 despite the stock market crash because people wanted to keep informed, stay home and entertain their close friends.

                      Rogers invented AC tubes and came out with the first rogers "batteryless radio" and also owned CFRB , Canada's First Batteryless Radio. which still exists. Owning a powerful station didn't hurt the busines of making radios.

                      to be batteryless meant they pluged into the wall and no battereies were needed which was a big change and a huge convenience.
                      the earliest rogers set I own is 1929 but i have many historic tubes that were made here in Canada by rogers and the tubes themselves are interesting and basically hand made. most of the radios of that era were big heavy monsters with chassis as thick as a loonie and I often joke that gravity wasn't what it was today when I go to move one because many are extremely heavy. Its fun to think of them being delivered by horse and buggy or model T

                      Weather or not radios signify as furniture is another thing, but the early ones sported some really nice woodwork and a lot of large consoles were made which reflect the skills of the craftsmen that migrated from Europe. there was a lot of competition in design and Canada played a big role in early radio.
                      some makers made US and canadian models and I find some variances that identify which they are. Patent rights were a big thing and so companies like Rogers did some interesting things on their own to avoid patents and much of it was very inventive. Marconi was a big player too. gimmics were often used so they had all sorts of tuning indicators , lamps and fancy dials and things and a lot of inlay and walnut veneer. some had motorized tuners, some had different uning features , it was quite a competition then to sell and the cabinets and the fancyness reflected what people would spend for. They were prestigious pieces than and everyone wanted the neighbors to wanto come over to listen to their new fancy piece of technology... woodwork played a big role in that.

                      often they had fancy fretwork and it is common to see fretwork with 13 openings which related to the "last supper" (I guess) . so whenever I see an old piece of fretwork I often count the panels, You see this in stained glass too.

                      during the war , most radio and tube makers switched to the war effort, many women worked in factories doing the soldering. the war brought on a lot of development and after the war they often sported more small tabletops made with bakelite, early plastics and less woodwork as well as less electronic innovation as they all accepted the superhetrodyne as the most common, cheap and efficient circuit. many of those post war radios are often coined "all american fives" , sporting 5 tubes with the filaments in series so they didn't need the big transformer that reduced the price.

                      I collect them and restore the odd one. they are a bit hard to listen to because what's on AM and shortwave now ? some but not a lot . some broadcast their iTunes and such with little transmitters that are under 100 milliwatts, that's enough to broadcast around your house.

                      mostly its just fun to admire the cabinet styles and restoring them is a challenge and a fun pastime. some of the most fun ones were old relics that needed a huge amount of restoration. the less you pay for them the more fun you get to have and the aim of restoration is that no one notices your workmanship because If you do it right no one can tell it was ever restored.
                      Last edited by stickman; 07-09-2021, 05:37 PM.

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                      • #12

                        Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

                        Originally posted by stickman View Post
                        that Paris piece does look to be 1920's and is probably valuable. sadly it was painted in and that requires some work to strip it, but might have been milk paint originally or maybe not painted.

                        Its from back when a person moved and took the cabinets with them as opposed to the built ins like today and could be compared to a "hoosier" and you can google that.

                        funny name , sounds like hoosier daddy ;-) They are quit sought after by people with houses of that period and perhaps by "tiny house people" as they are so well planned out to save space.
                        ive seen them go quite hgh at auction with the "hoosier" name, that's probably a competitor from the same era. unfortunately "paris" is a common name so harder to research.
                        I first saw this piece in 1961 and it was painted then .It lived a hard life in a 2 room app rented out to students. It was used as a dollhouse by my younger sister and a reloading centre by a nephew after he purchased the house. 3 yrs ago he renovated and gave me the old kitchen . Lets just say fresh paint and new pulls were a blessing for it

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                        • #13

                          Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

                          I'm not really sure of the realistic value. If it's worth a thousand or two it might be worth stripping the paint and you could then either restore the wood or go to a more authentic paint. Milk paint would be dull not shiny and you can still get that. maybe removing the tag would be a clue as to what it was originally.

                          all the baseboards , door and casings were painted in in my 1924 house and Ive done a lot of paint stripping to restore the original woodwork. Its a labor of love but under all that paint it's all nice old growth fir. It's quite pleasing to see the wood.. modern homes use such cheap casings and baseboards so I like to reveal them but I have to do it in stages or I'd just go insane with it.

                          If you ever paint wood and feel you may regret it, then use shellac first then the paint can come off a whole lot more easily because the shellac has a low melting temperature and it fills the little voids that trap flecks of paint. usually with what Im doing I heat strip most of it , then use the saw on the edges, re cut the roundovers with a router, and sanders help avoid the endless nit picking bits of white paint as much as I can. carbide scrapers wok well to remove a lot of it. some of the types of milk paint I have encountered can be really brutal to remove , they are very hard to scrape and heat does nothing to help stripper also does nothing. sanding makes dust. some may be water soluble. with furniture you can take a different approach and try to wash off the finish and try to retain patina by refraining from scraping and sanding. That can take a lot longer. in some cases humidity helps so some build steam boxes too.

                          If you found shellac under the tag then it may not be hard to get the paint off if you wanted. If it's milk paint then it might have been painted from the get go.

                          I had a nice little 1940's desk that I got for free that was painted in melamine. I thought of restoring it but it wasn't valuable and I just decided to pass it along so I gave it up for free. I had it a year or two thinking I might host foreign students so I set up a couple bedrooms but never used it. I dint see it as being worth the time to restore.

                          I have a jelly cupboard that was painted but it's from around the 1920's its all made from strops of T and G 3/4" fir. it's in my shop holding hardware and stuff but I know its actually kind of a special piece. stripping it would be a real nightmare. Ive been re-using some old flooring by removing the T and G and resizing it so it can be used as stock and I keep trying to decide if I might just make another just like it without paint. the dimensions are practical and it fits the age of my house. even the doors are made form T and G strips much like flooring but with a bevel at the joints. I think I'd rather be standing behind my saw pumping all the wood through to re-dimension it , than behind a heat gun breathing paint fumes.
                          Last edited by stickman; 07-14-2021, 02:50 PM.

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                          • #14

                            Re: A sub-forum for discussing historic Canadian furniture companies and their products?

                            Years ago when on a trip for some photography I met a fellow photographer by the name of Krug. I mentioned to him that I had a large wooden pulley that I converted to a coffee table that came from the Krug furniture factory in Chesley, Ontario. Turned out his Grandfather owned the factory and he worked there in his youth. It was all line shaft operated equipment at that time but forget what the power source was. I'll see if I can get more info from Krug and post once I have more info.

                            Stickman I have a couple old radios one is a working floor model will see who manufactured them and post the info.

                            Paul

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