Friday, December 12, 2014

Shasha Bread Company Kitchenware Antiques

CEO Shaun Navazesh keeps ancient bread making relics on display at Shasha Bread Company headquarters in Etobicoke Ontario.

ShaSha Shaun Navazesh makes Bread from Sprouted Grains at his Bakery in Etobicoke.
Photo: Shasha Shaun Navazesh

In December 2014 Shasha Shaun Navazesh gave me a tour of his organic food store and bakery in Etobicoke Ontario to show me how he does things differently.

We began in the Shasha Bread Co Sprouted Grains dept of his large bakery facility. ShaSha Bread Co.has been sprouting organic, vegan and non-genetically modified grains since 1999. I detailed the whole process of how Shasha makes flour and bread with sprouted grains in my article on Toronto is Awesome magazine, and wrote about the science of making baking bread with sprouted grains on Fuel Ghoul. At the end of tour, Shaun gave me a loaf of Ezekiel bread and walked me out past his mini- museum and store of antique bread making items.
A corn broom and cookie rolling pins in a well crafted wrought iron flat pan.  These are African cooking implements. The corn broom could be the whisk the breadmaker uses to gather the flour dust from the common trough in which the grain was ground.
 Here is Shaun Navazesh holding such a cooking trough. This is the whole kitchen for a family in an African village - every meal is prepared in here and flour was worked into bread.
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Shasha also has Victorian Era Chocolate Easter Egg Molds

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ID: 1090624Easter eggs are a very old Christian tradition. The Easter egg symbolizes the empty tomb of Jesus. To ancient man the egg was a miracle. A chicken egg appears to be dead, like a stone, yet a living bird hatches from inside the rock. Similarly, the Easter egg, for Christians, is a reminder that Jesus also rose from such a grave, and that those who believe will also experience eternal life. This mold appears to be made of a tin and such molds were used for such confectioneries. Madelines, teacakes, and petit fours were all baked in small, stamped-tin “patty pans,”

This mold is for large chicken egg sized chocolate eggs. This relatively lightweight tin mold snaps tight to keep heat in and bake the oval objects hard with a smooth finish on the surface that happens naturally when the chocolate cools *in some processes with some types of chocolate. This is most definitely a sturdy, well-built, professional mold. Hinged on one side, it has hinges and a clapse on other side to hold it closed.
Inside, you will see that the tops of each egg have slightly different shapes which is a sure sign this piece is handmade by smiths pressing the metal. Egg mold will make four eggs at once. These small treasures and more are on display in the office of Shasha's bakery in Etobicoke. You can find out even more about the place, people and products and read about how Shasha bakes bread with sprouted grains on Smart Canucks

Friday, November 21, 2014

A History of Making Custom Cardboard Boxes at Colt Paper

Colt Paper started back in 1935 when Sidney Colt realized that there was a need for boxes in Toronto.  He began buying and selling used boxes, doing business under the name S. Colt & Sons.

For many years Sidney bought and sold cardboard boxes as enterprising wheeler dealer; his customers were store merchants and captains of industry all over the city. It was one of Toronto's earliest cardboard recycling programs.

Even today cardboard can be collected and sold to recyclers for profit.  There's money in that.  Most types of "cardboard" are recyclable, but laminates, wax coated, or boxes treated for wet-strength are more difficult to recycle. Clean cardboard, by which we mean cardboard that has not been subject to chemical coatings is usually worth recovering, although often the difference between the value it realizes and the cost of recovery is marginal. Cardboard can be recycled industrially, or used for other purposes. For example its often used as building insulation, and damaged cardboard can be shredded for animal bedding.

In the 1950’s, S. Colt & Sons started ordering new boxes direct from Canadian cardboard manufacturers. 

By the 1960’s, Colt Carton Service had become a manufacturer of corrugated boxes and pads in its own right. This was a big step forward - it required a location where machines could be set up to fold and adhere paper which came on thick reels. It required shipping and printing, cutting and waxing, design and marketing, payroll etc. It was a full fledged factory at 151 Sterling Rd.

Manufacturing cardboard boxes in Toronto followed a process that was started almost one hundred years earlier called 'pleating paper'. The process was patented in England in 1856, and the pleated paper used as a liner for tall hats, but the corrugated box board as we know it was not patented until December 20, 1871. The patent was issued to Albert Jones of New York City for single-sided (single-face) corrugated board.

Jones used the corrugated board for wrapping bottles and glass lantern chimneys and you can still get one sided bendable corrugated paper board for similar fragile object insulation purposes today. The first machine for producing large quantities of this type of corrugated paper material was built in 1874 by G. Smyth, and also in 1874 Oliver Long improved Jones' design by inventing corrugated board with liner sheets on both sides, thereby inventing a more rigid 'corrugated cardboard' as it came to be known in modern times.

This is Sterling Rd looking north from Dundas St in the early 1920s. This is the industrial park beside the railroad tracks. Colt Paper set up their factory here in the 1960s and they have been making and selling custom cardboard boxes ever since.
The corrugated box was initially only used for packaging glass and pottery containers. But in the mid-1950s, cardboard fruit boxes enabled fresh produce to be brought from the farm to the urban grocer without bruising, and quickly thereafter the demand for cardboard became industry - wide, and Colt Paper was in the thick of it!

In the 1970s and 80s, Sidney’s son Neil helped expand the company to include various products for shipping including bubble wrap, poster tubes, poly bags, packing peanuts, wooden crates, poly foam.

Neil's daughter Sari is now part of the team as well. Colt Paper has been a proud part of the Junction Triangle/Sterling Road community since the 1960’s.  Rob wrote an exploration of Colt Paper for SmartCanucks forum that goes inside and looks around the business as it exists today.

The area has changed from industrial park to an artsy entrepreneurial zone. Colt Paper is committed to supporting their local vendors, believing the communities are richer when we buy from each other.

http://www.coltpaper.comAll of the corrugated products are manufactured locally, and they were among the first to switch to starch based enviro friendly packing peanuts.   Colt Paper supports various charities, including United Way, and Sleeping Children Around the World.

Colt Paper specializes in custom manufacturing plain and printed boxes.  Colt excels in meeting the needs of entrepreneurs who want to brand themselves without committing to large quantities.

Special thanks to, Colt Paper - 151 Sterling Rd. Toronto Ontario Canada  M6R 2B2
416 - 535 - 7234   or call toll free,  1- 800 - 249 - 2658

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dentist Acid Can for Recovering Gold Fillings Found in Markham Ontario

The old Town of Markham Ontario has lots of history and contains many venerated historians, not the least of which is Carl Parsons, seen here at the 2012 Toronto bottle show with a great big steel can that he brought to the show to challenge the other collectors' knowledge and possibly learn a thing or two himself from their vast collective experience.  That's what the annual bottle show is all about...

The can is about three feet tall and slightly pear shaped with a solid ring about the bottom which supports a round interior bottom. .. perfect for mashing..This is an important clue to what the can could be used for.

Another clue is the thick heavy lid, it's solid iron that weighs about ten pounds.  And look at the handles on the side of the pail - they are significant too...

Later on that summer, I rented the big heavy can from Carl for a week for $100 and drove to Markham to pick it up and back again to deliver it safe.. I used it on camera as a prop in a demo for a TV show about antiques called Antique Tac Toe that we were 'pitching' the CBC. More on that later,

Carl had everyone stumped at the bottle show about what the can could possibly be used for..?  and when he told us we were flabbergasted .

This 'acid can' was used one hundred years ago by a Markham dentist for acid reduction of teeth to liberate gold fillings.

That's why the lid is so heavy! And the can is so tall and acts like a stack to contain the heavy fumes that issue from the brew. At the bottom of the acid mash are the teeth that the dentist has extracted and no doubt given some credit for? to the patient's who gave up their rotten molars filled with gold.

At the end of the month he would carry the can outside and dump out the acid and hopefully find lots of shiny gold bits on the ground with little or no trace of the original teeth.

Last century's dentists used gold for teeth fillings because the metal doesn't decay or breakdown in the mouth. 

Gold has been used since prehistory for filling cavities in teeth. Several dental historians have written about the history of gold in dentistry. The subject discussion usually begins with a reference to the discovery of two molar teeth held together by a gold wire, found in a burial shaft at Giza, along with the articles that are believed to have dated from late 4th or 5th Egyptian dynasty in the third millennium B.C. (the four thousand year old gold wired molars have now been placed in Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim). And so its logical to assume that gold has been used in dentistry ever since.

We know for sure that gold leaf was first used to fill teeth in 1483 by Giovanni d’Arcoli, but his method was by all accounts rather tedious, and much too expensive for the average person, or even upper middle class people. Only the wealthiest class could afford to have their teeth repaired with gold in his shop.

Fast forward to North America, throughout the 1800s, where gold was by far the most popular choice for teeth fillings. The “cohesive gold foil technique” that was perfected in 1855 made gold fillings much less expensive than previous gold leaf applications, and made restoration of decayed teeth a real option for a wider range of consumers. By the 1920's its estimated the North Americans dental industry consumed 80 tons of gold per annum. And then other alternatives began to appeared in the marketplace. In some cultures, gold teeth and gold teeth caps are still a sign of wealth or a means of protecting fortunes. Some of that wealth can be recovered over the life of the patient, and that requires a big metal can filled with a corrosive agent to break down the teeth and free up the precious metals.

The science of making false teeth

Over time many substances have been used to fill and simulate our white enamel teeth. There's a common myth that George Washington had wooden teeth that were painted white? This has been denied as false, but you know I bet its true. I bet at one time he did have a set of wooden teeth lying around in a drawer somewhere. It's reported too that he had a set of teeth custom fit some made out of hippopotamus ivory, and some say he had teeth made from other human teeth using complex metal fasteners. We know he got his first set of false teeth before the Revolutionary War, and may have also undergone the infamous “tooth transplantation” procedure, perhaps even using teeth purchased from his own slaves, in the mid-1780s with the help of his personal dentist and friend, Jean-Pierre Le Mayeur.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Travel to Historic Stevenson Farms, Alliston Bed and Breakfast

On the August 2014 long weekend, myself and a couple other incorrigible dumpdiggers trekked north to Alliston Bed and Breakfast, Stevenson Farms, 5923 King Street North (County Rd. 15) Alliston, Ontario to enjoy a relaxing evening BBQ under the stars.

Owned and operated by Stephen and Susanne  Milne, our friends from twenty years ago, the pair are now successful innkeepers and spa workers at their own Harvest Spa.

Although this property is immaculately preserved, it contains all manner of Dumpdigger curiosities waiting to be discovered.

Stephen is a budding antiques collector himself, grabbing up odds and ends at sales, he's got some great stuff. Stephen Milne is glimpsed below playing a century old pump organ, which crowns a banquet hall filled with timeless reminders of another age.

The History of Stevenson Farms is so impressive they even have their own historic plaque! The metallic storyboard shown below (click the picture it expands!) reveals how in 1832, William Stevenson and his young wife Elizabeth Pringle settled on these lands having come from the Edinburgh Scotland the same year.

Their original log home was replaced in 1850 by a 12 room frame house which was was later renovated in 1927 by their illustrious grandson Theodore Loblaw; the founder of the Loblaw grocery chain. The house became a seasonal family retreat for Loblaw family, and boasted some of the finest amenities of the area including over 16 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, 3 sun porches, and large wood paneled billiard and banquet halls. 

The farm also had one of the area’s first golf and country clubs, The Stevenson Memorial Golf Club, as well as tennis courts. After Loblaws untimely death in 1933 - the estate was purchased by William J. Wood who ran a successful dairy and livestock farm which employed the old barn that can still be seen at the back edge of the car park. The farm has since passed down through the family to its current owners - Stephen Milne is the the thrice great grandson of the Stevensons.

Steve gave us a tour of the property and I found myself snapping pictures of the furnishing and collectible knickknacks. 
Here's a salt glazed stoneware jug, J.A Welding Brantford pottery that has the signature cobalt blue glazed flower signature emblem of this historic potter. The valuable jug would sell at auction for approx $500 today, but is certainly worth holding on to for posterity as there are only a few hundred of these pieces left in circulation.  Photographed above, the 2 gallon finger jug rests on a wide window ledge in the hallway of the reading room, and as we passed its position in the busy house I wondered about its chances of it surviving another hundred and fifty years here in this busy place ...?

I explored the wreck of an old dairy barn on the property at sunset.

After we got settled into the place, I noticed one of Steve's neighbours is tearing down the old barn at the edge of the backyard that must have certainly have belonged to the Stevenson Farms property at one time.  Unsupervised, I put on my hat and boots and decided to go exploring ..
I know a lot about how to hunt for antiques and forgotten treasures found in broken down barns and old farm buildings, but this place was beyond any low energy scavenging. It was too far gone!

It looks like the majority of the barn boards and beams have already been recovered. Next someone will come along and reap the rusty sheet metal roof - when scrap prices rise again in the fall?  If I had the energy i could have combed the interior and peered atop the stone walls. Where the short stone walls end, and the wooden beams of the ceiling begin are cubby holes that inevitably yield a treasure trove of medicines, whisky flasks, beers and sometimes even cobalt blue poison bottles.  But this barn was really wrecked...

Its conceivable that Theodore Loblaw milked cows in this parlour at one time, and perhaps he sold his fresh milk at the local 'Groceteria' that started his phenominal rise to success,

The Loblaw Groceterias - in the year 1919 Theodore Pringle Loblaw and J. Milton Cork opened the first Loblaw Groceterias in Toronto. They had a new idea for grocery retailing that combined self-serve and cash-and-carry. No longer would their customers have to wait for an overworked clerk to fetch items from behind a store counter (like in those movies of the old west Dry Goods stores where the settler had an account). Within a decade, the Loblaw chain had grown to over 70 stores!

Back at the house I continued exploring and treasure hunting,

In a backroom of the original farmhouse I found what Im sure would be the heart of the Stevenson Farms Dumpdiggers episode. I uncovered the most precious merchandise that the visiting Antique Hunters and Canadian Pickers would gleefully cart away in their trucks. Behold this decrepit old couch, with its ornate carved wooden arms and (torn) crush velvet upholstery is still a valuable piece today, and one can imagine how it must have been the centerpiece of the parlour here in this historic property at one time.

The ceramic Findlay 'Super - Oval' stove is probably worth even more money than the couch.  I reckon it was used here in this farmhouse kitchen, or perhaps a 'back kitchen' or summer kitchen for years, only to be replaced about thirty years ago and regulated to storage by property managers too frugal to actually throw it away.

These items have been sitting here in the back shed under wraps for almost three decades now, and they are still waiting here today for a TV scout to log them so they can be properly discovered on camera. Would you like to make an offer? 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Maid of the Mist Collectibles in the Age of Hornblower in Niagara Falls

The Maid of the Mist tour boat license has changed hands. The original Maid of the Mist tours, the boat that takes tourists through the mists at the base of the largest waterfalls in the world has changed hands after 150 years of service; the company lost the Canadian contract and now operates solely from the American side of the river.  True, original, authentic Maid of the Mist collectibles from many different ages of Niagara Falls tourism are expected to rise in value accordingly.

This picture above is an artist's imaginings of the very first steam powered tour of the mists below Niagara Falls in 1846, the year the original Maid of the Mist tour company launched their double stack ferry boat.

There's a lot of good history here and it starts in pre history. The native peoples recognized this place as being very spiritual - the river chasm contained the loudest sustained sound they had ever experienced. Their gods and their beliefs centered on this holy site wherein they made sacrifices.

There are a few different Maid of the Mist legends told around Niagara Falls but my favourite is the Disney esque story about La Salle's visit in the summer of 1679, the year Chief Eagle Eye's beautiful fifteen year old daughter Lela-wala was chosen for the water sacrifice - a lone canoe ride over the falls to honour the river Thunder.

In the postcard to the right, you can see Chief Eagle Eye following behind his daughter. She became the Maid of the Mist and he rules the river chasm - they both lend their voices to the sound of the river Thunder for eternity.

There are as many variations to this story as there are native American Indian bands in the area, then and now. Originally the area was Iroquoian but we know that confederation of people had many different dialects and sub languages which historians today call Laurentian.  in each story however the same rudiments exist - the maid of the mist story is a tale of human sacrifice and the tragic loss of a beautiful young person for a greater good - sometimes the reason is specified - the Cayuga version invents a water snake menace that is countered by the sacrificed girl being reborn to warn her people , for example.

Maid of the Mist Becomes Hornblower in April 2014

Hornblower has was the name of a fictitious British Navy midshipman who became an Admiral in the Age of Sail, a character invented by CS Forrester loosely modeled on the life of Horatio Nelson.

In Canada, in Niagara Falls, Ontario the word Hornblower lives on as the new name of the official tour boat company recently licensed to operate an exclusive natical tour at the base of Niagara Falls.

The boat company launches their first tours next month April 2014  after trucking in the vessel components north from a manufacturing facility in the US and assembling the prefabricated high technology tour boat on shore in front of everyone's eyes - it added to the spectacle of the frozen river and waterfalls to see a group of twenty men milling about a huge vessel surrounded by scaffolding , forklifts and cranes.

You can see the boat being delivered and assembled  in this video,

This is the future of the boat tour and it was made possible in equal parts by politics and technology, just like it was back in 1846 and on through the years. 

Over the year there have been various postcards  celebrating the Maid of the Mist tour boat vessels. The man made engineering of the craft seems a triumph as it emerges from the steamy veil at the bottom of the waterfalls and lend s itself to the cameras as a wonderful subject in an exciting location - it converts landscape photography to much more engaging vehicular portrait photography.

Here's the Maid of the Mist tour boat as photographed in 1996, the last shot in a six part series celebrating the company's 150th anniversary.

Post by on Mar 8, 2014