Friday, October 10, 2014


If you follow this blog, I have to assume that you enjoy (at least on some level) my personal style, which tends to be a mix of fine antiques, rich woodwork, with a touch of simple modern colours and patterns. That said, I thought I would invite you to check out my Pinterest. I'm not advertising this to get followers (I don't really care about that sort of thing) but rather to share with you some of my wonderful internet finds.

JC's Pinterest Gallery

The boards currently include wonderful interiors, bathroom and kitchen ideas, upholstery, antiques, and other neat things. I started this account not too long ago, and I'm not on it very often, but I keep slowly adding to it.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Salvaged Front Door (Photos)

Here are some photos of that gorgeous antique door (that weighs a freakin' TON - actually probably close to 80-100 lbs) that I salvaged from the trash several weeks ago.

There's a section at the top that needs to be reglued and clamped, and the entire thing needs refinishing, but otherwise it's as close to mint condition as I could ever hope to find. No newer lock was ever installed on this door, which is pretty amazing (I almost hate to drill into it, but I'm going to have to do it), and there are very few small nail holes for curtains, etc. No deep gouges, or other damage (with the exception of one spot on the moulding), and it still has the original lock, handle, and plates (as well as half the hinges). I'm hoping that I can find another set of identical hinges.

Part of the reason that the door is so heavy is that it's 1 3/4" thick, and it's made of solid BC fir (which is a very heavy and dense hardwood). BC fir was used to make factory floors, as well as large supporting beams, and the masts of sailing ships (tall ships). It was also frequently used (around the 1880s to 1950s) for millwork in homes. Today it's almost only ever found as fir plywood, and to buy solid lumber is ridiculously expensive. The wood to build this door (new) would cost over 1000$.

You will note that the mouldings on both sides of the door are different. The extra deep ones are on the exterior (around 1" thick) and the plain ones are on the inside. There is also a decorative frame around the upper glass on the exterior side.

You will note the one small damaged corner on the horizontal moulding just under the glass (to the left). This will be easy to patch.

Nice deep mouldings.

I kind of like the deep crackled varnish, but I'll be completely refinishing the door to give it an even colour, and better weather protection.

Interior side:

The door had been set down onto the lock side, and I assume that the lock must have been jammed in place to cause this much damage to the catch. You can see the extreme bend, and the blue line represents the correct line that the steel should follow. I took it to the vice and anvil, and straightened it out.

Once the catch was repaired, the rest of the lock was cleaned, the rust was removed, and most of the pieces repainted in flat black.

I will be cutting a custom key to fit this lock (which is a pretty simple thing to do if you can find a suitable blank).

Side notes: This door came off a foursquare just a block away (at the end of the block across from mine), and I will be installing it as my new front door. This means that I won't be using that "prairie" door (the blue one).

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's The End of Summer Already

I just thought I would comment on the recent lack of content on the blog. The truth is, I've been busy/lazy, and I haven't been working much on the house. I've been doing a few things, but nothing exciting.

I bought insulation (and installed 95% of it) for the garage, I installed plugs (11 of them) and new lights in the garage, as well as additional light switches. I've also bought the wood for the porch sills (Cedar) and all the 2x10s to rebuild the rough staircase (main staircase). But now that the weather is getting cool, I don't know if I'll have time to tackle those projects anytime soon. I was hoping to be able to buy all the drywall for the garage, and start putting it in, but I was off work again for a bit, and ran out of cash (I'm back to work now).

I also salvaged an absolutely beautiful antique door. It was an absolute brute to carry home, and it was literally just at the other end of my block. It's 1 3/4" thick, and made of solid BC Fir. It has 3 raised panels, and and the original wavy glass pane above, surrounded by decorative mouldings.

I'll be posting a photo of it as soon as I can scrape-up some free time. I also have some neighbourhood historic home updates/photos to share soon.

Monday, August 25, 2014

An Incredible Find!

I just got back from a quick trip around town (by bus) to go fetch this wonderful antique frame:

I was amazed to see how wonderfully preserved the frame was. It has the original finish, with strong corners, original wavy glass, and most surprising: no breaks or losses to the ornate and very delicate gesso decorations. I have come across a fair number of these frames over the years, and I would say that 80% of them are damaged in some way.

The frame is a generous size, at 16 x 20, which is a standard (older) picture frame size, and the decorative mouldings are 4 1/2" around that, making the entire frame around 25" x 29".

Best of all: 20$

Here's a detail shot that shows the 4 different combinations of profiles used. As is often the case, the interior moulding in the centre of the frame is made of a separate moulding, which is simply (and crudely) nailed to the larger one.

I hadn't noticed that there was actually a glass with the frame (from the ad) so I might look for a wonderful antique print for this. I was originally going to use it for an oil painting (and I still could).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Seaway International Bridge Walk

Hey blog buddies, I can't believe how far behind I am with posts on my blog lately. I've been meaning to make a post for the bridge walk for over a month now.

For those of you who aren't familiar with my home city of Cornwall, Ontario, I'll give you just a very quick overview.

For the longest time, we were mainly known for our stench, as a paper mill town. If you've ever passed through a city/town with a paper mill, you'll know what I mean by the smell. For the most part of my life, I lived at the far end of town way east of the paper mill, so the smell wasn't an issue, but any time we'd drive near the factory the smell was unmistakable. The stink is mainly caused from the boiling of the wood pulp in chemicals to soften and bleach it. The paper mill actually shut down operations several years ago, and 90% of the vast property and buildings have been cleared.

One of the other major landmarks in Cornwall is the Seaway International Bridge, which connects Cornwall to Cornwall Island (Native Reserve) and then leads to New York state (USA) by a second (suspension) bridge.

A few bridge facts:
- Built in 1962.
- 3000 tons of rebar were used in the construction of the deck.
- 41,000 tons of concrete were used.
- The bridge contains 5700 tons of steel girders.
- It took 32,000 gallons of paint to paint the bridge.
- The bridge is 120 feet high. The bridge was originally built to allow tall ships to pass underneath it, but none ever did.
- The bridge cost 8.2 million to build in 1962, which is roughly equivalent to 43 million today.
- 78% of the bridge is over land.
- Over the past 52 years, 78.2 million cars and 3.9 million transports have crossed the bridge.

That said, the bridge is being demolished starting this week. A new (and short) low bridge has been built, and is already in use, and will replace the old bridge. The old bridge has been costly over the years to maintain, and is in pretty poor shape (as you'll see from the photos).

I had been hoping to be able to make it onto the bridge to take photos for several months, but as soon as the new bridge went into operation, the old bridge was barred-off with a barbed-wire fence.

Then, in early July, just a few days before the event, I saw on Facebook that the Seaway International Bridge Corporation was going to open the bridge to everyone for the "Final Bridge Walk" which was to take place Tuesday July 8th, from 2pm to 8pm. I found it a bit odd (and unfair to a lot of people) that the bridge would only be open to the public for such a short time, and on a Tuesday (when a lot of people would be at work), but I made plans with my boss to leave a bit early for the event.

I left work around 3pm, and I made it to the bridge around 3:45 or so. This was a VERY hot and hazy summer day. One of the hottest days this summer.

When I arrived, I was pleased to see that MANY people had turned up for the event.

The first portion of the bridge has tall chain-link fences, so some photos were difficult (or a bit tricky) to take.

This photo shows Brookdale Ave. on the east side of the bridge. The east side has the majority of Cornwall, while the west end has smaller subdivisions, and newer neighbourhoods. Directly to the west of the bridge is actually the Howard Smith Paper Co./DOMTAR paper mill property. As I was touring/walking on the bridge, all the first photos focused on the east, and I planned to take photos of the west side on my way back, since there was much less to see on that side.

Here is a good photo that shows the condition of the deck. 52 years of patch work in every conceivable material has taken its toll on the roadway.

One of the old lights. The gaps in the fence on each side of the lights provided the only easy way to take good photos.

Here's a good shot pointing north-east towards my house (completely obscured by a tree, but visible later). In the FAR distance (under the crane), you can see the water tower.

Cornwall Water Tower:

A little farther down, my house was visible. It was easy to spot by looking for my neighbour's distinctly shaped front porch.

Note the three houses with the triangular pointed roofs to the left. Here's the "ground" view of my place, also showing those three houses.

This was the best "bird's eye view" (zoomed-in version of the earlier photo) that I was able to get of my house 'as viewed from the bridge'.

This was farther down the bridge.

Some of the views of the bridge may seem odd, as this one below, because the bridge actually has an "S" shape, so the curves allowed for some neat photos. Showing west side. You can see the second bridge in the distance at the upper right. You can also see the new low bridge at the bottom right.

General view of Cornwall/downtown. If you look very closely on the far right, just barely touching the horizon is the dark brown-black steeple of Trinity Church (my favourite church). I made an entire post over a year ago, showing the interior of the church (along with a video clip that shows the exterior) here:
My 1923 Foursquare - Cornwall Homes - Trinity Anglican Church

The church steeple in the centre top is St. Columban's which will be shown again. Here's a photo from the ground that shows this church. The church is a few blocks east of my house.

Centre of the bridge/girders.

A shot straight down Water Street, which then turns into Montreal Rd. (Hwy 138 South). The park along the waterfront is Lamoureux Park, and it's the location where all our outdoor concerts/events, hot air balloon festivals, and Canada Day celebrations take place. There is actually a carnival that was going on at the time, and you can spot a Ferris wheel.

Also visible in this photo is Nativity church (the church I attended as a kid) with the red roof (just right of the centre, and actually on the same street, which curves).

There is also a white dot visible on the horizon, just left of the centre road, and this is the ball over the Nav Centre (formerly Nav Canada) building (see image below).

Here are two photos of Nativity Church. This first black and white photo was photographed by Cory Marsolais from the apartment building directly across from the church.

Here is a shot of the interior of the church, taken by Richard Pilon. The interior is beautifully painted in light blue and gold, and features ornate oak woodwork.

A small paragraph of info about the church can be found here:

This is an overall view of Nav Centre (viewed from the river, pointing north):

To give you a rough idea of distance, it would take me about 30 minutes to walk to the church (from the bridge), and another 40-50 minutes to walk all the way to Nav. It doesn't look that far in the photo, but it's quite far.

Also just barely visible in the park is the clock tower. If you scroll back up to the photo and look just a bit south of the red church roof, near the road in the park is a tiny triangular roof (just over a dark tree top), which is the roof of this clock tower:

This shot is taken from the same spot, but turned towards the north. Again, you can see St.Columban's church,

This is past the portion of the bridge with the chain link fence, and this time, looking to the west across the St. Lawrence river. The portion to the right is part of the old canal system, and to the right of this is parts of the old DOMTAR/paper mill property.

In the distance above, you can sort of see the Saunders Hydro-Electric Dam. Here's an up-close photo of the dam by Dean. I have other photos farther down. If you want information about the dam, have a look here:

Another shot of Cornwall, a little farther down the bridge. In the lower right is part of the new border/customs location as part of the new bridge. The water here is part of the old canal.

Another shot back on the west side, showing the remains of the former paper mill.

I took some photos with the railings partly to show how low they are. They come up just above knee-level, and made me quite nervous. In the distance is the dam.

West side, showing some of the curvature of the bridge. Again, the water here is the canal, not the river.

Here is the brand new low bridge. It was built right alongside the old bridge on the west side. This is the portion that spans the St. Lawrence river.

Here's a close-up of the dam. In the water, you can spot one of the old piers from an old train bridge, which collapsed long ago (early 1900s).

I'm not a huge "selfie" guy, but I took a few with a great view of the city behind me. It was starting to get cloudy at this point.

I like this one because you can see the steel girders in the sun glasses.

More artsy/interesting photos.

Second street (one of the main roads through town) looking west. This smoke sack was attached to the huge main building of the paper mill, to the left of the road. There were originally plans to blow it up in a big celebration, and have a big draw for who would win to push the button, but apparently there were too many concerns about carcinogens/chemical residues from all the dust it would create, so nothing has been done with the stack for a few years now. It's one of the last remaining things left to demolish on the property.

All the residential areas to the west are a few blocks away past the trees.

One of the 2 main designs of expansion joints used on the deck.

Heading back into Cornwall (back to the starting point).

I finished the bridge walk just shortly before 5pm, and as soon as I got home, it started to rain.

Overall, it was a great afternoon, and they had the entire event really nicely set up. They had large placards (not shown) that had photos of the bridge's construction, along with the facts I noted earlier. They also had one or two spots where they were handing out free bottles of water (because it was insanely hot), and a few benches set up for people to sit. Near the middle of the bridge, they had sidewalk chalk and were letting people (lots of kids) write their names and draw on the bridge. It was too bad that my Mom couldn't come (she was at work) and that my friend Lynne couldn't come (she lives over in Ottawa).

I hope you guys enjoyed these photos!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Insert Whitty Title Here

I don't know how people on other blogs manage to come up with all sorts of witty and interesting titles for their posts. I suck at it, and usually don't even try, but I didn't want to call this "Another Boring Update".

As promised, here are the two completed antique grates. One is original to the house (the one in the green living room), and the other identical one was installed to replace the large and poorly located floor grate next to the front door.

If you missed it, and wanted to see how I did that, go see these posts (in this order):

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I had one missing thumb latch from my original grate, so I had a new copy cast in brass. I had paid 50$ for the second (and complete) grate, and unfortunately, it cost 45$ just for the casting. I could have just bought an entire new grate for an extra 5$, but I would have needed to travel out of town to go get it, and I hadn't gotten a quote for the casting, so I didn't think it was going to be that much.

Here's the final product. Grate closed:

Grate open:

Office grate:

In other news, I decided to spend last night with some lovely antique lighting. I used my two whale oil lamps, paired with old mirrors to double the light.

This prompted me to look for my other whale oil lamp AGAIN. I had another nice clear lamp that I've had packed away, and I couldn't find it. I looked for it on 3 or 4 occasions over the past month or so, and I finally found it this afternoon.

I wasn't happy with how I found it though...

Broken in half.

I actually discovered that the lamp was already broken here, and previously repaired. There was a thin layer of clear adhesive, and I spent about 30 minutes scraping it off and cleaning the joint. I plan to re-repair the lamp with Hxtal, which is a specialty glass adhesive used by museums. It's very expensive, but it's supposed to make an incredibly strong repair, and be crystal clear. I've been meaning to buy some to repair a broken clock glass (hand painted) from the 1840s, so this is another excuse for me to buy some.

This fine lamp also has a completely ruined original pewter collar, which I will need to replace, along with a burner. Unfortunately it's not a standard size, which will make my restoration job incredibly difficult. The lamp is from the 1830s or 40s.