I often look around my parlour, contemplating how many of those figures in early Canadian history sat on this very sofa discussing politics and new legislation, or sharing in the tragedies and joys of their lives. Smith’s grandson Lloyd was my neighbour. He told me his grandfather had apprenticed in Kingston with the noted chairmaker Chester Hatch. It was he who sold me this lampstand made by and inherited from his grandfather.
So I am now both the owner of Benjamin Smith’s house and a piece of the original furniture. Made of tiger maple with a turned pedestal and reeded legs, it is unusual in Ontario because of the square top inset with a kind of checkerboard design formed by an assortment of small Italian marble squares. I have to admire the young Smith aspiring to his new craft in this sophisticated manner. Although he would abandon furniture making once appointed sheriff, his affection for this table was enough for it to be passed from generation to generation. This is my treasured object.
Su Murdoch is a heritage consultant with a keen interest in nineteenth-century Ontario architecture and furniture.