Willard’s Chocolate-A Sweet Toronto Company

Famous for its chocolate covered nougat, peanuts and caramel or “Sweet Marie”, the Willard Chocolate Factory opened it’s doors in Toronto in 1917. After incorporating in 1920 it located its headquarters at 453 Wellington Street a stone’s throw away from Spadina (the building was demolished in the 1970′s).

WillardschocolatesThe competition was stiff with Laura Secord and Neilson’s vying for market share. So in the 1920′s Willard started including sports cards with their chocolate. Hockey stars, baseball greats and even the odd celebrity swimmer (think Tarzan) were featured. In 1931 they launched their signature “Sweet Marie” a chocolate bar still enjoyed by Canadians today (now made by Cadbury/Neilson’s and not available across the border!). But the end of the Second World War saw prices of cocoa and sugar rise expeditiously and Canadian youth took to the streets in Vancouver to protest the 3 cent hike in the chocolate bar. By in 1954 George Weston bought out Willards but the company remained under their own name until 1968.

(Photo courtesy of Urban Toronto)



  Willards Chocolate Store Display
with original distressed paint finish



Bay City Rollers




On a side trip from Ann Arbor, we found ourselves in a small community in Northern Michigan on the shore of Lake Huron named Bay City. Long before “S_A_T_U_R_D_A_Y NIGHT” became a pop anthem, the lumber barons of Bay City, Michigan were the movers, shakers and rollers of the region.

Originally inhabited by First Nations Chippewa Tribe, it was an ideal place for settlement with towering Pine and Oak trees, with both a river (the Saginaw) and shoreline of Lake Huron providing abundant sources of food and fresh water.The first non native settler arrived in 1831, Leon Trombley built a small log cabin on the east bank of the Saginaw River.Bay City was established in 1837 however it wasn’t until 1865 when it was officially incorporated as a city.

Michigan lumber played a large part in the rebuilding of Chicago after the Great Fire, as well as supplying many mid-western American cities with lumber.By 1844 Bay City was called the “Lumber Capitol of the World”. In its heyday about 100 wood milling, lumbering and shipbuilding facilities dotted the shoreline of the Saginaw River south of Bay City.A handful of men (lumber barons) made vast fortunes in the local industries. Men such as Charles H. Hackley from Muskegon contributed to the social fabric of the area by building public libraries, art galleries and hospitals.Industrialists around Bay City were eager to show off their wealth and position.Lumber fortunes made near Bay City were later directed into the emerging automobile industry in Detroit in the early 1920′s.

Many of the grand houses of Bay City are located along Center Avenue. The wide thoroughfare boasts a comprehensive variety of architectural styles including Romanesque revival, Greek revival, Georgian revival, Arts & Crafts, Queen Anne and Mid-Century Modern among others.

Some of the period houses we observed in Bay City were:


*Mann House-George & Maria Mann. George Mann a lawyer & secretary for the Bay City Brick, Tile & Terra Cotta Mfg. Co. Stick Victorian style.

 (Check out the restoration of this magnificent home in 2007)

*Tupper House-Dr. Virgil and Mary Tupper. Dr. Virgil was a GP and surgeon and one of the founders of the Mercy Hospital

In Bay City. Their house was designed and built by architects in the Georgian Revival style.

*Turner House-Joseph Turner of Turner Lumber Co. A fine example of Queen Anne Style.

*Bradley House-Frederick Bradley son of Lumber magnate. Classic Victorian style built in 1887.

*Chesbrough House-Fremont Chesbrough, he incorporated the Romanesque style into his own residence.


And just in case you were wondering, yes, Bay City is where the Scottish pop band takes their name from.




Courtesy of the Virtual Reference Library, Toronto Public Library

Preston Springs Hotel

Since ancient Roman times, people have been enjoying the benefits of sulphur springs-bathing in the warm healing waters to cure any number of ailments from rheumatism to dermatological conditions. The thermal trend had been popular in various European cities for centuries, and with a rise in the middle class and travel for touristic purposes, the craze followed to North America.

Entrepreneurs in small communities jumped on the thermal therapeutic band wagon, and one such place was in Preston, Ontario (now amalgamated as part of Cambridge). In the 1860′s the Hotel Kress opened its doors to a public eager to indulge in the sulphur rich mineral waters which bubbled naturally up from the area’s core, at the base of the Niagara escarpment. While the hotel managed to attract a clientele, it wasn’t until the Del Monte Hotel was built by resident Robert Walden in 1890 that Preston became a spa destination. Built as the biggest hotel in the area, it’s majestic presence emerged from it’s prime location at the foot of a hill, surrounded by beautifully ambling gardens and with the mineral baths enclosed within the hotel premises.

The Del Monte ran successfully until the effects of First World War slowed business down until it was eventually sold in 1920. But it was not to remain idle for long, and a pair of enterprising young doctor brothers (Gordon and Edwin Haigmeier) transformed the hotel into a sanitarium/hotel retaining the first two floors as a hotel, the third as a clinic complete with x-ray room and operating room with the fourth floor a recovery ward. The hotel renamed Preston Springs, enjoyed much popularity and purported to host such celebrities as Babe Ruth and Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Over the next 50 years the hotel saw a number of incarnations including as a Canadian Naval Wren training facility, to a Lutheran retreat and a retirement home. After a slew of owners the building fell into disrepair. It was was vandalized and was the victim of arson as well. Finally in 1999 a massive restoration project was underway but again fell under receivership. It was finally sold again in 2013 where a development company, seeing the potential, is slated to retain most of the facade and turn the structure into condos.

Throughout the past 15 years while the Hotel remained empty, it was basically stripped and gutted of all it’s original fixtures and furnishings. The one thing that remained (due to the bulk and weight) was the beautiful white Carrera marble that was installed in the basement as part of the sulphur mineral baths and shower rooms. Post+ Beam is excited to have had the opportunity to save these majestic pieces from the wrecking ball and subsequent landfill. The marble evokes a wonderful sense of a bygone era of health and wellness travel in the early 20th Century.

Salvage Notes-Registers

Go with the flow….Registers and Grilles

A source of confusion to many new buyers of Victorian homes is the difference between a register and a grille. Often the terms become interchangeable along with grates, air returns or covers. However there is a distinct difference of form and function between the two.
Registers are louvered to let air flow into a room (either hot or cold). Cold air registers are usually located on walls and ceilings while hot air registers are located on the floor as heat rises. A typical Victorian or early 20th century house in Ontario would consist of many registers but usually only one return per floor.

Read More

Contact Photography May 2010

It’s that time again for the Contact Photography Festival May 2010. Here’s what we are featuring:

Read More

Around the World in 500 Years

An exhibition and sale of antique maps presented by Webster’s Fine Books & Maps spanning five centuries. The oldest map dates from 1493- just a year after Columbus’ famous voyage to the New World! A fascinating look at world travel through the art of cartography. On display from October 30th to mid December at

Read More

The Work of David Disher

The work of David Disher is now being exhibited at Post + Beam Reclamation Ltd. 2869 Dundas Street West in the Junction. David’s work reflects his years of experience as an antiques dealer and shows an expression of tenderness and tranquility. His unpretentious depictions of decorative objects in familiar settings replicates his own unassuming persona…

“I paint because I like to paint and hope you like my paintings”.

Read More

Breaking through the tin ceiling

Tin ceilings were all the rage in the late Victorian age. Toronto was no exception, and tin ceilings could be found in some of the more upscale residences and commercial enterprises. One of the more impressive ceilings was at the “Lakeview Hotel” in Cabbagetown (now the “Winchester Hotel”). It was featured in a trade catalogue for the “Metallic Roofing Company of Canada” which supplied metal plates, borders and cornices.

Read More

Knock Knock Who’s there?

Dating back to ancient Greek times, the door knocker has evolved from the simply functional to the highly ornate and often whimsical level.

Some of the earliest English and Continental knockers were made of forged iron-a material that was relatively inexpensive and durable.

Read More