Progress, and a Little Canadian Retail History

November 22, 2011

It's taken me a while, but I've finally managed to finish stripping my Craigslist dresser. It's funny, when you watch those decorating shows on TV, they always make this type of thing look so easy. Let me tell you, it's not. And the smell - Wowzers - it's a good thing I invested in a respirator. On a positive note, I emerged from this experience relatively unscathed - I only suffered one chemical burn, and it was a small one ;)

Anyways, I thought I've give you a quick peek at where I am on this project.
Stripped dresser
Stripped dresser drawers
(You can take a peek at what I started with here). Next up will be sanding, and at some point I have to figure out how to fix the missing veneer.
Simpson's logo on a dresser
Simpson's Logo
Anyways, while working on the dresser, I spotted something that indicated where it came from originally. This mark is a little hard to read, but it says Simpson's which was a department store here in Canada that is no longer in business.

Simpson's was started in Newmarket, ON by Robert Simpson in 1858. It thrived until 1870 when a fire completely destroyed the building.  Robert Simpson restarted his store in Toronto in 1872 as the city was rapidly increasing in size. The original Toronto store was on Yonge street, just north of Queen.

By the 1890's, Simpson's had over 200 employees and in late 1894 they moved to a new store on the south-west corned of Yonge and Queen Streets. Three months later the Simpson's store was again destroyed by fire. Undeterred, Robert Simpson reopened his store 6 days later in a rented building. He proceeded to rebuild on the same corner, and the bigger and better building was completed just 10 months later. It's still standing today.
The Corner of Yonge and Queen St - Toronto, ON
The Corner of Yonge and Queen St (
Simpson's underwent many changes over the years, expanding across Canada, partnering with Sears, and then in 1978 being purchased by the Hudson's Bay Company. The two companies brands operated separately across Canada until 1991, when the Simpson's locations were closed or re-branded as Bay stores. The last Simpson's store to be converted to a Bay store was the original on the corner of Yonge and Queen Streets. (More info can be found here)

On a side note - does anyone remember a 80's children's TV show called 'Today's Special'? Well, it was partially filmed inside the Simpson's building.
The Characters from 'Today's Special' children's TV show
Today's Special
I loved that show growing up - and for nostalgia's sake, here's a video ;)

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  1. Wow, that looks like you've done a lot of work on that piece.

  2. Can't wait to see what you do with this!! Its awesome!

  3. Wow. I'm liking the bones of this project. Your hard work is going to pay off

  4. Stopping by from FFF. I am at the same point with a set of nightstands. Having done this many many times, i can relate to what you have accomplished so far. As for the chemical burns, I use thick rubber gloves especially made for protection from chemicals such as strippers. You can find them at Home Depot. Also I read your previous post and I have answers to your veneer questions. I will leave a comment with my suggestions there. Just finished a veneer patch job and am pleased with the results. I will post about it in the coming weeks ahead.

  5. Hi Joselyn,
    The funny thing was I was wearing the gloves. Of course, I was also wearing short sleeves and my elbow got in the way ;)

  6. Can't wait to see it finished! I loved that show too! I totally remember it!

  7. It will be amazing when it's completed. I think you can by veneer that you iron on. My brother and I just did that to a dresser for my son's room. I don't know how much you need. We used a roll that was only about a half inch wide.
    Good luck!!

  8. [...] next step was stripping the old varnish from the dresser. I’d never done anything like this before, and it was an adventure to say the [...]


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