The original factory, thought to have been located on West side of Main Street in Waterford, had a separate storefront with showroom opposite the factory close to Sylvia Street. In 1881, the factory was destroyed by fire with insurance only covering half of the $2500.00 loss. Despite this, Barber rebuilt and continued to produce what has been described as some of the most elaborate Victorian-style furnishing in Norfolk County. Barber’s son, A.M. Barber apprenticed with his father and became an associate with the business and finally manager around 1885. The factory would once again be destroyed by fire in 1888. It was rebuilt and remained in operation until around 1900, with A.M Barber’s wife listed as the owner. No mention of the business has been found past 1902.
John Barber was an active member in the Waterford community, becoming one of the first councilors elected for the village. He was also involved with the Baptist Church where he furthered the work of moral reform and temperance. In 1887, John and Abigail moved to Sarnia and later Ayr. He passed on December 28, 1893 at the age of 64.
In conjunction with the gunstock business, Judd Natural Wood Furniture was established in 1970. The factory was located on the south side of Old Highway 24 near the corner of Thompson Road – beside the present-day Tim Hortons. The venture came as a result of Jim’s years of research and experimentation to meet the requirements – namely durability – of firearms and their manufacturers. All types of wood and wood finishes were tested, resulting in what has been described as a “truly unique” product with “nothing of comparable quality and beauty in North America.”
By the mid-1970’s, the factory employed 30 staff, the majority of which were directly involved in furniture production. The annual output of finished furniture and related wares was over 22,000 pieces. Judd’s furniture was sold through several retailers across the country and direct from the factory’s showroom. Tables, chairs, household accessories, and even recognition plaques, were crafted along with custom orders – all being made of heavy, natural wood, finished in thick coats of clear varnish.
The company’s ability to adapt led to its continued success for nearly a century. With a focus on lumber, the factory turned out building materials, finished furniture, carriages and boats – one of the first vessels being the schooner Bay Trader which was used to distribute their products around the shores of Lake Erie. The onsite steam sawmill also meant the factory could produce staves, spars, shingles, and square timber.
Daniel’s son, Walter McCall, took over the business near the end of the 1800’s. It was during this period that a vast array of furniture was produced. Some of the finest pieces were made from Norfolk walnut and chestnut. Oak, hard maple and pine were used as secondary woods for interior frames and upholstered chairs. McCall furniture features oversized and “chunky” details instead of the more finally finished turnings and applications characteristic of the late Victoria period. Large slabs of wood are also common, namely because of its ample availability in the area.
Ken McCall became the third generation to run the business and by the 1940’s Ken’s son, Robert was heading the firm. During this period, the factory focused largely on boat building and was rebranded as the McCall Boat Works and later Ken Mac Boats. During the Second World War, a government contract to provide life boats for the Royal Canadian Navy was secured. With this, McCall’s were in continuous production throughout the war and shortly after. The last 20 years of the factory saw very little furniture production. The business closed in 1961 following a fire (the fourth in its history). A section of the factory remains today on Queen Street East near the Townline intersection.
Reid’s factory and showroom was a large frame building that stood on the south side of Main Street (Old Brock Street) beside the present Catherwood restaurant. The storefront displayed various finished furniture with the coffins “discreetly” housed in the rear.
The workshop was technologically advanced through the use of horsepower to run the machines compared to those driven by foot powered treadles. This also meant that the hearse horse was kept in fine exercised condition when not required for funeral services.
Furniture manufactured by Reid varied in both size and style. Examples of sideboards, china and book cabinets as well as washstands have been documented. Characteristically, these known examples share similarities with the late-Empire style design (c.1815-1830). Cabinet doors typically feature arched inset panels with most pieces being made of walnut and pine as a secondary wood. Philip Shackleton, in his authoritative book Furniture of Old Ontario, describes the Reid sideboard featured in WHAM’s exhibit as an eclectic and unusual provincial piece. It has a row of bowed pilasters often associated with Baltimore architect-author John Hall, who was working in the mid-1800’s.
A specialty for the shop were staircases with many surviving in various Vittoria homes today. The stairs were designed, constructed and fully assembled in the shop before being installed in the homes. The handrails were carved from walnut and often featured an elegant winding stair tread.
For an idea of the overall scale of operation, references from business directories as well as the 1861 census highlight capital investments of Reid’s workshop as having $1,400, one employee earning $25 a month, and $200 worth of lumber.
As was often the case for early cabinet makers, operating an undertaking business provided additional income. As reported in the memoirs of life-long resident Miss J.C. Palmer in 1959, Reid’s coffins were of two types – walnut for the wealthy costing $10.00, and chestnut for the less prosperous at $5.00. Apprentices Robert Gunton and Allan Swayce, who would later take over the business after Reid’s death in 1881, were responsible for measuring the deceased for coffin fitting. It was also noted that the majority of coffins were not ready-made and required both Reid and his apprentice to work well into the night in order to finish for the morning funeral service.
The company continued under the direction of Gunton and Swayce until the late 1890’s.
Reid married Elspth Shand, daughter of William Shand Sr. of Woodhouse Township, and raised a family of five sons and three daughters. None of his sons followed their father’s trade. Of note, Archie and Frank studied law and establishing a prominent firm in Simcoe. George and William became general merchants, operating businesses in both Vittoria and Port Dover.
Windsor Chair c.1865
Featured is a rod-back Windsor side chair from a group of eight made by Archibald Reid for the choir loft in Christ Church Anglican, Vittoria.
Overall, the chair is simplified with its straight back, solid black colour and stenciled decoration.
Reid was responsible for most of the interior Church furnishings including the pulpit, railings and alter table – all of which have been featured in national publications on early religious architecture in Canada.