Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We used to build things in this country. #76: Canadian Office & School Furniture Company, Preston, Ontario

I found this old school desk years ago at a barn sale:

Jacob Emil Klotz was Canadian Commissioner of Immigration from 1872 to 1880.  In 1885, he became a partner in William Stahlschmidt & Co., which later became the Canadian Office and School Furniture Company out of Preston, Ontario (now a part of Cambridge).  Under Klotz's presidency, the firm became one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the country.  In 1928, the company was purchased by the Preston Furniture Company (which had already acquired the Baird Furniture Company and Sawmill in Plattsville, and which later bought the Schmidt Furniture Co. of Preston.)   In 1961 the Preston factory was bought by the Daisy Manufacturing Company of Rogers, Arkansas, best known for its air guns.  (Daisy started in 1886 and is still in business!)  It shared the factory with James Heddon's Sons Ltd. of Dowagiac, Michigan, which made bamboo fishing rods and fishing lures (but which has now vanished from the marketplace).  In its later years, Preston Manufacturing Ltd. made toy boxes, spring horses, play balls, sports balls, garden planters, furniture and marine products. It was acquired in 1990 by the U.S. firm, Hedstrom Corporation.  Production at the Preston location ended in 1991, and the plant fell victim to a fire in 1996.  The empty site is now owned by the City of Cambridge.


Pat Bishop said...

Hi, I just bought one of these desks from a fellow in our neighbourhood.
It needs a bit of refinishing but otherwise great. My wife is a teacher and our grand children love playing school so it was an easy decision. You're right about how we used to build things. This desk is solid as a rock and absolutely gorgeous in its design. I can only imagine the little minds that sat there. Who knows, maybe they grew up and tried to keep factories going...
Enjoyed your post. Thanks

Ray Blakeney said...

I have an O & S Furniture Company desk and chair. The desk is oak and very heavy and needs lots of TLC. The chair also (painted red) needs work. I am in Nova Scotia but anyone who would like to have it at no cost let me know. Tried to give it to a local museum but no go. Just found this 2012 blog. I can supply pictures. Ray t

JenK said...

Hi Ray

Do you still have the desk? I'm doing research on the original owner/builder of the house I own in Preston, ON (Cambridge) and he was a cabinetmaker and the Canadian Office and School Furniture Co.