April 2005, I was installed with many antique dealers at the Carrefour de l’Estrie’s Antique exhibition. It was the 3rd time I was there to make people discover my treasures. At the end of the Friday night, we were some exhibitors having a beer at the brewery, talking about antiques, our common passion. An antique dealer and furniture restorer from Mauricie was talking about a collection of European furniture that he had seen a few years ago. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, Europeans began to copy the Quebecker’s style of furniture. From what I understood, the furniture were made of pine wood and the building was almost identical to what was made here 100 years earlier. Some of those furniture were really magnificent, the antique dealer said. Style, colours and ageing of the painting was to be mistaken, even by an expert. Only a few details as the nails, the hinges and the hardware used could confirm the origins and the age of the furniture.

The worth of a well-preserved Quebecker wardrobe of the 19th century can be up to $20,000. On the other hand, the similar one built in Europe can be sold between $3000 and $5000… Why would two similar furniture be sold such different prices? Stéphane Labrecque, from Antiquités Nolan, answered my question. “If you find an old photo album with, inside, a picture of your great grand-father, this album will be worth something for you. But if you find the same album with the picture of the grand-father of a French man that you don’t know, the album won’t be worth much for you, isn’t it? It’s about the same thing about antiques. A piece of furniture has a signature attached to it, it has been made by a craftsman from Ile d’Orléans, by the grand-father of your neighbor or it has been made specially for your great grand-aunt… One thing is sure, an old piece of furniture made in Quebec is part of our own history, and it is important to recognize its worth and authenticity…”

Since that day, I realised one thing: since I began my collection of ancient refrigerators and cookers, what makes me really happy is when I find a typically Canadian piece as Moffat, Findlay or RCA Victor that was made in Ontario. Even better, when I find a Bélanger cooker made in Montmagny, or as a few days ago, a Lislet brand wood and electric cooker of 1958, bought directly from l’Islet foundry in Lisletville, with the proof of purchase. Even closer to us, in Granby, here in the Eastern townships, in the 1940’s and 1950’s were built refrigerators of the brands Racine, De Laval and Princess. That business was founded by a M. Racine who got married to a Miss Dubuc. Some Dubuc would also have worked there, some cousins of my grand-father… When I look at all those appliances, and that I compare them to those found at Antique Appliances, I am proud to see that people from here built prettier models than our neighbours from the south did… at least according to what I like!

Just like an antique dealer, I have the opportunity to participate in the conservation of our Canadian and Quebecker heritage. When people tell me I should sell my appliances on Ebay because “Americans would buy that for sure” they say, I will keep answering that: “When I’ll be known of every single Quebecker, that I’ll have had time to prove the quality of my appliances, I’ll have them conscious of the importance to keep our antiques here and that their worth can only grow with the years… Then, and only then, I’ll see if I still have some for the Americans…” I’ll surely have convinced some of them to buy my “national treasures”…