History, Art and Architecture Collection
chair (arm)

chair (arm)

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Artists Owen Sound Chair Company (manufacturer) John Andrew Pearson (designer)
Date 1922/02/20
STOCK NUMBER - No DE STOCK/DIST ACCT NO-No COMPTE DE DIST.//032// CF 909 (JUL-JUIL 74) 7690-21-870-6517
Materials wood, unidentified leatherette metal, brass
Dimensions (cm) 57.0 (Length)63.5 (Width)97.0 (Height)
Functions Furniture
Barcode 604057
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Owen Sound Chair Company

The Owen Sound Chair Company was founded in 1912 in Grey County, Ontario. Easy access to abundant timber and commercial shipping on the Great Lakes made the region a hub for furniture production in the early 20th century.

The company’s first president was Horace B. Smith (1864–1939), a local lawyer and businessman. Smith also served as president of the North American Furniture Company. The two factories shared a display room and regularly advertised products together. Smith’s companies exported furniture internationally and had representatives as far away as Auckland, New Zealand, and Cape Town, South Africa. In 1921, the Government of Canada placed an order with the Owen Sound Chair Company to make “solid walnut and leather-covered chairs” for the parliamentary library and committee rooms.

Smith eventually passed control of both of his furniture companies to his nephew. The businesses were sold off in 1937 and the factory buildings were torn down in the 1960s.

John Andrew Pearson

The individual most closely associated with the construction of Centre Block was a Toronto-based architect by the name of John Andrew Pearson. Pearson was born in England in June 1867 and was educated there. Records suggest that shortly after completing his studies in Sheffield, he immigrated to Canada in 1888. He began a long association with architect Frank Darling, of the firm of Darling and Sproatt, shortly afterwards. By 1893, the firm had been renamed to Darling and Pearson, and Pearson at the age of 31 had established himself as a fixture on the Canadian architectural scene.

Over the next 45 years John Andrew Pearson was associated with increasingly larger number of projects, ranging from commercial structures and hospitals to universities and legislative buildings. By 1913 the Year Book of Canadian Architecture referred to him as a "Master Builder." While associated with many major bank and public buildings, his most noteworthy project was the reconstruction of the Parliament Building destroyed in the fire of February 1916. Together with Montreal architect Joseph-Omer Marchand, Pearson created a superb design that not only fit within the existing framework of Parliament Hill, but provided for the construction of a thoroughly modern, and fireproof, building that would meet the needs of a modern legislature, but one that would fit within a neo-gothic setting.

The construction of the building gave Pearson ample room to demonstrate his genius and vision. The architect was involved in all aspects of the interior and exterior design. Furniture, decorative metal work and stonework were parts of the design process. The symbolic and ceremonial aspects of Parliament, both for parliamentarians and Canadian citizens, were continually acknowledged in the design of the building, culminating in the Peace Tower and its Memorial Chamber.

John Andrew Pearson's genius and prominent role were acknowledged by the University of Toronto in 1932 when he was the first architect in Canada to receive an Honorary Doctor of Architecture Degree.