Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | August 5, 2015

Artifact of the Week. Foot stool, circa 1900.

l 007

Base of a Footstool sold by M.A. McDonald & Co., Furniture and Undertaking, Cornwall, Ontario, ca. 1900.

l 009

Top view of the stool in original condition, sitting on cast iron legs.  Diametre:  26.5 cm.

l 008

The stool was purchased at a Stormont County country auction in 2003.scan0014


This photograph and following description is from the 1900 CORNWALL FREEHOLDER SOUVENIR.


Cornwall possesses the distinction of having, in the Victoria Furniture Warerooms, the largest emporium in Canada under one roof for the sale of furniture and household goods.  The building devoted to the business of the enterprising firm M.A. McDonald & Co., was built by John Towle as a roller skating rink, and is well lighted, spacious and convenient.  In size it is 60 x 176 feet, with a carpet and curtain room 40 x 62 feet, and commodious offices in front.  Large plate glass windows embellish the imposing front, through which can be seen handsome furniture, musical instruments, oils paintings, etc.scan0015


The manufacturing of furniture is today a fine art.  In no industrial line, perhaps have the influences of modern culture and art education been more strongly felt and keenly appreciated than in the furnishing and decoration of our homes.  When one contrasts the hastily made articles that did duty in the average household a few years ago with the artistic creations of today, one cannot but be struck with the tremendous advance that has been made along these lines.  A house should be cosy and comfortable, the articles one uses so constantly should be strong and substantial, and at the same time of artistic design.  M.A. McDonald & Co., do not manufacture furniture, but patronize the leading makers of Canada, who are acknowledged to be without a peer in a particular time.


As one walks through the spacious building one cannot but be struck with the extent and variety of the stock.  Whether one dwells in a cabin or a palatial modern residence he has no difficulty in finding the furniture to suit.  Elegant bedroom and parlour suites in mahogany, oak, walnut and the more expensive woods, upholstered in the choicest tapestry, silk and other modern materials, tell of ease and sweet repose, while the solid dining tables and chairs, the chaste and elegant sideboards betoken comfort and convenience.  For purses, less plethoric the essentials for comfortable house keeping can be found in endless profusion – indeed there is no taste that cannot be gratified.

In musical instruments there is almost unlimited choice, the goods of Bell Piano & Organ Co., Evans Bros., Whaley, Royce & Co., of To., the Thomas Piano & Organ Co. of Woodstock, and other makers being much in evidence.  The increase in wealth of the community has created a large demand for these articles of luxury, and the volume of business done by the firm is simply astonishing, a piano a day being frequently sent out.

No house is furnished in these latter days without a good sewing machine and the stock of the Victoria Warerooms includes White, Raymond and New Williams machines.

The carpet rooms above stairs are exceedingly well stocked with choice fruit of the loom in axminster, brussels, tapestry and other makes of floor coverings, not to speak of Persian and Turkish rugs and oilclothes of various designs.  Then there are portieres in tapestry and chenille, and lace curtains in bewildering variety.scan0017


Brass bedsteads, marvels of straight slightness, can also be found in the same apartment.

For the halls there are choice oil paintings in chaste frames and a large and well assorted stock of mouldings in patterns innumerable.

Undertaking is one of the delicate and sad duties which developed…some one in every community, and the man who can perform the task to the satisfaction of his patrons in one who must thoroughly understand his business and possess delicacy and sympathy to a large degree.  Mr. McDonald is a man who thoroughly understands his business, he having made this branch a study for many years, and has made his the leading undertaking business in Eastern Ontario.scan0018

An extensive repair business is conducted in the shops on the east side of Pitt Street, the staff of workmen and other employees aggregating about twenty.

Alex McDonald, the senior partner, is one of Cornwall’s most esteemed citizens.  He is a native of Cornwall, and got his first lessons in business from his uncles, Alex and David McCracken.  Some 20 years ago he embarked in the furniture business…In 1888…(he bought) the roller rink from Mr. Towle and converted it into a huge furniture store.  J.M. Macdonald retired soon after the change of base, since which time J.M. McDonald has been the sole proprietor…Though devoted to business Mr. McDonald is an enthusiastic patron of field sports, player of the Cornwall Lacrosse Club in early times, and has for several years guided its fortunes as president.  A keen curler, he was rarely missed from the rink until his duties as manager of the Victoria Skating Rink made pressing demands on his time.

The proverbial integrity of the canny Scot is well exemplified in McDonald, and his genuine popularity as a business man is well deserved.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


Cornwall Industry

A Cornwall Community Museum Blog

Cornwall Canal and Shipping History

A Cornwall Community Museum Publication

Cornwall Community Museum

In The Wood House at the waterfront, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

%d bloggers like this: