From the Hand of Man: Ornamented Tools from the Montague Tool Museum

Article by Larry Thompson


esign is implicit in the making of objects, and it originates with our hands. We are born with these essential, primary tools that shape not just the world around us, but our species, too. With jointed fingers and opposable thumbs, human beings have been able to create everything from simple clay pots to iPads. …

The Beauty of the Thing: The Chapel of Sainte-Cécile in the Village of Calixa-Lavallée

Chapelle de Sainte-Cécile

Article by Jacques et Nicolas Boulerice


eaning on his shovel in silence, a man called Pierre Moussard stands in the snow. In the madness and folly of the world, he dreams of creating his own historic “folly,” but of a very
different kind. His intention is to build a perfect Quebec chapel: perfect dimensions, perfect curves, perfectly set …

A Passage Through Time And Space: The Hall in Victorian Row-house Architecture

Ground-floor hall of Mackenzie House Museum in Toronto

Article by Lindsay Rose-McLean


s a gateway into the home, the front hall serves to convey an important first impression of wealth, status, and aesthetic taste. Nowhere more consciously constructed was this
impression than in typical row-house architecture of the mid-Victorian period. Also referred to as town-house, or terrace architecture, row housing was a popular solution of the …

A Toronto Gem: Gustav Hahn and the Spadina Billiard Room Frieze

Gustav Hahn’s billiard room frieze for the Austins’ home, Spadina, in Toronto.

James Austin S. Thompson


hen albert and Mary austin returned to toronto after living in Winnipeg for
fourteen years, they decided to commission a local artist to design and execute the interior for the billiard room at Spadina, their home, located at the Davenport Road hill. The billiard room frieze at Spadina was an early commission for the …

Decorative City Arches and Gates in Canada

Sam Carter

ECORATIVE ARCHES AND GATES in Canada, created over centuries, celebrate and commemorate significant people, events, resources, and spirit of place. A remarkable number of these structures still exist while others were temporary or have been demolished, usually in the name of progress. Arches and gates were created for occasions ranging from viceregal visits to commercial events, …

Architecture and the Decorative

Editorial by John Fleming

Until the mid-19th century, architecture in the formal European tradition, as opposed to the vernacular, generally followed classical concepts of structure and style. Where structure was function realized, style was made manifest through the non-functional, usually aesthetic and decorative characteristics that distinguished period, culture, and taste. Thus the five classical orders of Greek and Roman antiquity …

The Art of Thomas Nisbet, Master Cabinetmaker

Work (sewing) table circa 1830

Krystina Mierins


ne does not ordinarily associate early 19th-century Canada with elegance and wealth, yet that is what was presented recently at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in “The Art of Thomas Nisbet, Master Cabinetmaker.” As curator of the exhibition in Guelph, Ontario, furniture maker David Nasby has acted as a detective, closely examining details to establish attributions …

Decorating The Ranch: Legacy of an Immigrant Family in Southern Alberta

Decorating the Ranch

Margot Brunn


n the decorative arts collection of the Royal Alberta Museum the gilded frames of the Reed family collection stand out. More valuable than the paintings they were meant to enhance
at the time of purchase, in the late 1860s, the hand-carved Italian frames reproduce the delicately pierced or overly broad styles of the 17th and 18th …

The School of Restoration Arts at Willowbank


Julian Smith


The idea for a School of restoration Arts at Willowbank came to Laura Dodson,
a Heritage Canada Board Member, during the time she was president of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Conservancy. She happened to visit a church in Toronto and saw young people learning to gild under the guidance of a master gilder, as part of the restoration …