“The Classic” Stratford Normal School 1920’s Yearbooks

In my previous blog post I wrote about the collection of antique buttons I got from the Rockford Auction Centre in Owen Sound. Aside from buttons I also got two yearbooks from the Stratford Normal School, one from 1921 and the other from 1926. It was so cool to flip through the pages and look upon all of the students’ faces who later went on to become teachers in Ontario and beyond.

“In the 1900s, concerns about the quality of rural education prompted the Ontario government to build four new Normal Schools to increase the supply of qualified teachers in the province. Identical Italian Renaissance buildings were constructed in North Bay, Peterborough, Hamilton, and Stratford. The Stratford Normal School attracted women and men from surrounding districts and educated them with an emphasis on conditions in the rural schools that employed most new teachers. Known as the Stratford Teachers’ College from 1953 on, the school trained close to 14,000 teachers before closing in 1973. It is the only one of the four Normal Schools opened in 1908-09 to survive without substantial alteration.” (source: Ontario’s Historical Plaques)

While reading some of the student poems and funny moments included in the last few pages, I found myself looking back to the photographs to match faces to names. Later, I put together collages of my favourite pieces…




1926 The Classic Stratford Normal School yearbook with student autographs.


Antique suitcases my Dad picked out for me. He knows my taste so well!
Thinking of using these for future craft show displays.

Tumbled stones and gems and black marbles for future dragons sculpts. Also, a bunch of dendrite rocks from the Fort Steele area. I put them all in a glass jar for a better display.



Antique Brass Buttons

I’m bonkers for buttons, so when my parents picked up a collection of brass antique ones from the Rockford Auction Centre in Owen Sound I was super excited to sort through them.

If I had to choose between zippers and buttons, I’d go with buttons. I guess I have a taste for more old fashioned things. I have a particular interest in brass and decorative pieces. Many buttons today are plastic and very plain, unlike the ornate ones of the past. Fashion is a statement and after looking at some old buttons, it’s safe to say that back in the day buttons sent an even stronger message than clothing. The amount of detail and artistry that went into such tiny pieces is incredible!

While sorting through my bag of buttons I decided to organize them in jars according to designs. I was happy to find a large amount of bird designs, animals and flowers among other miscellaneous designs. Many of them are singles so I’ll be unable to use them for clothes. Instead I’ll keep them in a jar somewhere to be admired and I will use them to imprint my clay for future tile are mosaics.

Below are a few close up photos of my favourites.

Miscellaneous designs
Horse buttons
Bird buttons
Close up of the bird designs
Animal buttons
Cat curled up in a windowsill
Cat on a bridge
Fox peeking through the forest
Celestial buttons
Moon and stars
Cherubs, angels and fairies
Bear claw and eagle talons
Insect designs
Various hand designs
Hunter button (front)
Hunter button (back): Pigott & Co – Fast Shank

Vintage Golden Guides

When I was little I liked nothing better than to look through a nature book and draw the animals I saw within its pages. My Mom even gave me her Mammals: A Guide to Familiar American Species book so I could use it as reference for my drawings. That was my very first Golden Guide book and it would be years until I added several more to my bookshelf.

Mammals: A Guide to Familiar American SpeciesĀ (1955)

The Golden Guides were a series of pocket books focusing on different aspects of nature (mammals, insects, birds, etc). First published under the “Golden Press” line of Western Publishing Company in 1949, many more books were added to the series over the years. Written by experts in their field and edited by Herbert S. Zim, the books were accompanied by realistic illustrations, filling each page with visual aids and colour.

Insects (1956)

James Gordon Irving illustrated the first books, which were intended for readers of the primary and secondary school levels. The series, however, expanded from identification guides to address various other subjects of the natural world such as fossils and even a pet care book.

Fossils: A Guide to Prehistoric Life (1962)
Referring to the Fossils guide to classify my own fossil finds.
Pets From Wood, Field and Stream (1969 Edition)

While reorganizing her books one day, my Mom took down several small paperbacks from the shelf and placed them in a pile. I took a look at them and noticed the similarity of the layout, illustrations and general age of the yellowed pages. I flipped through them and made the connection to the Mammals book she had given to me years before. I asked her more about them and she told me that she got them from her days of working at The Royal Ontario Museum. Apparently the offices were upgrading their book collections and she wound up with this pile of Golden Guides. My Mom used those books as reference for her own drawings, something she taught me to do from my earliest days of showing an interest in art and animals.

Flowers: A Guide to Familiar American Wildflowers (1950)
Airborne Animals: How They Fly (1969)
Birds of North America (1983)
Non-Flowering Plants: Ferns, Mosses, Lichens, Mushrooms and Other Fungi (1967)

After looking through the books for a while my Mom told me I could keep them if I wanted. They are now reunited with Mammals on my book shelf and whenever I find a vintage Golden Guide at a used book store I add it to my collection. I only have eight books so far but one day I would like to collect the entire series. For now, I put these guides to good use for my own natural history collection, as well as a classification reference for my nature and wildlife photography.

Giant Water Bug (aka “toe biter”) specimen
Carrion Beetle specimen
Banded Woollybear specimens
Monarch Butterfly specimen
Cicada specimen
Scarab “Hermit” Beetle specimen

Vintage L&L Brass Lily Pad Lamp


The other day I bought this vintage brass lamp from Treasure Tails, a thrift shop where all proceeds go towards the Georgian Triangle Humane Society. The lily pad base of this goose-neck lamp was what really drew me to it. I’ve seen lamps of a similar style floating around the internet and in magazines and I always liked them. Like claw-foot furniture, this leaf based lamp reminds me of something out of a fairy tale. The price was good so I bought it and cleaned it up when I got home.


While unscrewing the frosted glass shade, I noticed stamped letters and numbers under the base, “L&L WMC”. I did a bit of research and found out that my lamp was made by Loevsky & Loevsky White Metal Castings in New Jersey. L&L focused on 20th century electric lighting, making many different patterns and styles of lamps back in the day. The lamp making came to an end, however, in the late 1970’s when the company closed.


Design Philipp Swan Lake Music Box

Music boxes are never scarce at thrift stores; particularly the retro boxy ones with theĀ  wind up musical tune and twirling ballerina. Whether it was sitting on your bedroom dresser or your friend had one, you have seen one at some point in your childhood. Those simplistic, metal latched cardboard boxes wrapped in patterned paper were our treasure chests. It’s where we held our jewellery, secret notes or maybe even tucked away the key to our diary. This style of music box was so popular that over the years countless designs and illustrations have adorned them, yet this one in particular caught my eye.


Dark blue and framed with a contrast of tiny white flowers, this music box was much different from the white or pink boxes I’ve often seen. I picked it up off of the shelf and inspected the outer design; a whimsical night scene of a ballerina dancing by moonlight with pixies watching her from their toadstools. It looked like something out of a fairy tale.


Box made in Sweden by Design Philipp
Metal latch made in Germany


I opened the box and was a little disappointed to see that the ballerina was missing, but my disappointment changed when I saw the 3D forest display inside the lid! Never before had I seen such detail gracing the inside of a music box intended for children. I could look right into the mirror and imagine I was peering into an enchanted forest. When I wound up the back, Tchaikovsky‘s Swan Lake slowly played within the velvet lined interior.


Despite the missing ballerina, I couldn’t return this vintage box to the shelf. It is now sitting in the company of my own childhood music box and I have plans to sculpt a new centerpiece to twirl inside.



Another call to my childhood is Strawberry Shortcake. I was nuts about her when I was a kid, so I was super happy to find this 1980 Designer’s Collection “Spread some happiness around” sugar bowl at The Mission Thrift Store!



My final thrifted treasure is this little framed Village Green Country Crafts painting by Sharon Jervis. It is part of the Wildlife Miniatures series, the subject of this one is the Rabbit with Fly agaric Mushroom, Moss, Bramble and Ivy. This is the cutest painting and it’s made even more perfect because it features mushrooms! With all of the Sears stores being closed across Canada, I thought it was neat to see that the box still had the old Simpsons price sticker on it too.



Vintage 4 Photo Family Locket

During my absence from this blog I visited a number of thrift shops and antique stores. I’ve mentioned in past posts that thrifting or antiquing is always hit and miss. Sometimes your basket is full and other times you can’t seem to find anything that appeals to you. Over the past few months I picked up some treasures that I’d like to share with you now. Let me start with one particularly unique find…


While browsing the wall of jewellery at Value Village I spotted an old brass locket. I’ve always had a thing for lockets; before the days when everyone carried phones filled with thousands of photos, people wore lockets. Lockets, of course, usually only allow a person to carry one or two photos of their loved ones. This limitation meant that the wearer needed to choose their photos wisely; often times they may have only had the one photograph. The person the photo captured would have meant a great deal to them; be it a spouse, a child or a departed loved one. A locket was something to be cherished because it held memories and it was symbolic of the love geared towards the person inside.


As I picked up the old locket I was surprised when it popped open in my hand! The once dainty piece of jewellery now looked like some sort of steampunk contraption. I inspected it further, looking closely at the four brass disks and how they all folded together with a tiny spring mechanism until clasped inside the locket once more. I came to the conclusion that it was made to hold multiple photographs. I had never seen anything like it before and I’m a sucker for unique pieces so I added it to my basket.


When I got home I did some more research and it turned out that it was indeed, a four photo or “family” locket. Such lockets were popular during the Victorian era up until the 1940’s. As you can imagine, countless designs popped up in Google Images but after scrolling for a bit I found the same brass design as the locket I bought. The one I found online was a Gold Coro locket with the company’s logo stamped inside. My locket is bare of any numbers or company markings so I’m guessing that it is a knock off from the Coro line. Either way, I thought it was something special and found a place to hang it in my room until I decide which photos to put inside.


I’m not sure what this is but I thought it was neat. I might turn it into a lamp one day (my Mom gave me the idea). This brassy cherub piece was purchased from a Re-Use Centre.
I thought this faux onyx brooch was beautiful so I added it to my pin collection. This brooch was found at Treasure Tails, they have the best selection of pins!
A vintage mushroom creamer I picked up from Thrift & Gift in Wasaga. The mushroom handle was what originally caught my eye.
I bought this mushroom platter from Value Village. As you already know, I’m crazy about mushrooms!
Found this cat figurine from the Re-Use Centre down the street from my home and the silver swan ring holder from The Salvation Army (it reminded me of Swan Lake)


This little sparrow tea cup caught my attention at the Thornbury Summer Antiques Show. I don’t often see tea cups this old with painted birds (there is even a moth fluttering on the plate). The bottom is stamped with a William A Adderley and Co trademark; W.A.A. & Co., “& Co” added from January 1886 and on (http://www.thepotteries.org/allpotters/8.htm).


Visiting Degrassi Junior High

After hearing news that the school used for Degrassi Junior High was to be partially demolished to make way for condos, I knew time was running out. I grew up watching DJH so the show is very near and dear to my heart (my Mom even named me after the character of Caitlin!). I wanted to see it in person, so the other day my family, who have gotten used to driving to filming locations to fulfill my geeky passion, drove to the filming location in Etobicoke.

“Proposed amendments to the Etobicoke Zoning Code to permit the development of 73, 4-storey townhouse units within 7 blocks. An existing school building, currently utilized as a childcare centre, would be retained (and partially altered- portion to be demolished).” http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2015/ey/bgrd/backgroundfile-82865.pdf

By the time we got around to visiting the school, the gymnasium was already gone (sorry boys, The Zit Remedy will need to find somewhere else to practice). Thankfully, the front of the property was not fenced off and we were able to explore a bit and take photos. With the exception of the demolished gym, a few missing trees and bike racks, we were pleased to find the school still looked as it did in the show.


The school opened in 1929 but back then it was called Daisy Avenue Public School, and was later renamed after the former Governor of Canada. In 1983 the school was closed but reopened as Vincent Massey Daycare in 1985. The school was later used as the prime filming location for the Canadian teen television series, Degrassi Junior High, which ran from 1987-1991 (Visit Save Vincent Massey for more details). The show followed the everyday lives of the Degrassi students and looked into the ups and downs of teen-aged life; exploring crushes and friendships to harder topics such as teen pregnancy, drugs, death and abuse.


Vincent Massey Public School wasn’t just a building. Fans of the series will tell you the school itself played an important role. Everyone wanted to go to Degrassi and hang out on the iconic front steps while they chummed with Arthur and Yick or laughed along to Joey’s wisecrack remarks. Degrassi was the place that brought everyone’s beloved characters together. It’s sad to know that this landmark, which is both historic and a part of Canadian pop culture, will soon be gone…

The paved path by the steps where Liz and Spike ate lunch in Season 2 Episode 3 “Great Expectations”
The curb where Joey wiped out on his skateboard in Season 1 Episode 4 “The Cover Up” (ouch!)
The front steps where Stephanie Kaye gave her school president speech. Season 1 Episode 1 “Kiss Me, Steph”