My pet project within antique collecting is researching, discovering, and generally talking incessantly about pieces of furniture made by the Toronto firm of John Jacques and Robert Hay.
My wife thought she married a world class dancer but in fact she married a furniture nerd. Some times for a laugh she will ask me when I might be having my furniture nerd friends over for another wild party.
Jacques and Hay were a 19th Century Toronto cabinet maker, in business from the 1830’s through the 1880’s and beyond in different forms. They made economical cottage furniture in large quantity, but it is the pieces for fine homes and institutions, and for exhibitions that I find most interesting.
Their buildings sat where Union Station is today and they were right on the lake with their own wharf before the shoreline was altered.
My passion for finding important pieces by Jacques and Hay has been encouraged and assisted by Denise Jacques who is the leading and pivotal researcher (yes, her family) and by Ruth Cathcart who produced a wonderful catalogue in the 1980’s.
Jacques and Hay followed the style evolution through the Victorian age and there are examples of late Regency, Rococo Revival, Gothic Revival, Renaissance Revival, and The Aesthetic Movement. Treasure to be found in all categories, but the early period would be most exciting. Works were produced in our native Canadian timbers for the most part, and fine wood it is.
The firm rarely signed pieces and attributing a piece to J&H can be a challenge. Without family receipts and other documentation, it is a matter of comparing to known and documented pieces, just like any other antique.
Known pieces have been passed down through families and documented pieces may be seen at Toronto’s wonderful museum Spadina House.
If you would like to come and see some of our examples or if you would like me to look at what you think is a family Jacques and Hay piece, then please get in touch with me.