Tuesday, 8 September 2015

T.B. Mitchell, furniture dealer, and manufacturer of custom coffins

One of the things that continue to fascinate me about the internet and social networking is the way it allows you to share other people’s history.

And so in that true spirit of internationalism here is a photograph from the Orilla Museum of Arts and History.*

It is a picture of its time and it speaks for itself.

So why shouldn’t a furniture dealer also deal in coffins?

And in the case of Mr Mitchell also do the full service from hearse and carriage to manufactured custom coffins.

“T. B. Mitchell came to Canada in 1863. 

Ten years later he moved to Orillia and opened a business as a manufacturer and dealer in furniture on the North West corner of Colborne and West Streets. 

By 1890 Mitchell was one of the largest dealers in parlor, bedroom and dining room furniture as well as carpet, sewing machines, musical instruments and picture frames. 

He also provided a complete funeral service with his own hearse and carriage and manufactured custom coffins. 

T. B. Mitchell found time to deal in real estate and an 1885 ad listed 50 lots for sale having previously purchased 170 acres of the Moffatt property located between Lake Couchiching and Simcoe. 

In 1880 William Swinton started working here and can be seen standing to the right of the horses being driven by teamster R. A. Robinson an uncle of the Hewitt Bros. William was a cabinet maker and assisted Thomas Swain building wooden coffins. 

In 1888 William Swinton purchased the business from T. B. Mitchell and after several years of growth moved further up West Street in 1907. Mitchell continued selling real estate in a store behind this building on Colborne Street. 

By 1909 the D. C. Thomson Co. Bakery was located here. In August, 1909 the Tudhope Carriage Works located across the road burned to the ground. The intense heat from the Carriage works spread the flames across the road and the Bakery and the Real Estate office were destroyed."

*http://www.orilliamuseum.org/ 30 Peter Street South | Orillia, Ontario

Picture; courtesy of Orilla Museum of Arts and History

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