Celebrate Canada with Canadian Antiques

It’s July 1st, and that means it’s Canada Day! This year Canada turns 148 and I wanted to mark the occasion by featuring a few pieces of Canada’s material heritage. On Collectivator the sellers regularly post fantastic pieces of antique Canadian furniture, smalls, and art. These unique items provide a glimpse into the lives and culture of early Canadians. There are so many items I could use, but these are four that caught my eye (links in title go to original posts on Collectivator). I think these items are beautiful as well as historically interesting, and perfect for a day when we celebrate our country’s past.


Antique Cradle from Nova Scotia – It seems appropriate to celebrate a birthday with a cradle. We have a few on Collectivator (both for babies and for dolls) but this one is my pick because of the beautiful original green paint outside, and the robin’s egg blue interior. That is just a gorgeous colour combination, and reminds me of the ocean (fitting a maritime item). It actually predates confederation with the seller dating it to 1830. It is a simple piece but one that perfectly encapsulates the union of form and function in an item common to Canada’s early homes.


Fraktur by Mennonite Folk Artist Anna Weber – This beautiful piece of artwork is a Fraktur; a Pennsylvania German art form that combines calligraphic and pictorial elements to decorate religious and family documents. Frakturs were often made as gifts for friends and family in Mennonite households. This particular Fraktur is by artist Anna Weber from Waterloo County, Ontario. Anna Weber was known for her strong visual elements and use of motifs like the tree of life, birds and flowers. This Fraktur is dated 1873, and is signed by the artist.

Mi’kmaq Fishing Creel – This antique fishing creel made by the Mi’kmaq people of Eastern Canada is a good example of traditional methods and developed technique. Aboriginal antiques come in many forms, but I wanted to highlight this utilitarian item specifically because it is also a work of art. I admire useful items that are finely made with such aesthetic consideration. Although not as decorated as many Aboriginal antiques, this 100 year old fishing creel nonetheless reflects the distinct culture and life of its makers.


Wall Box Dated 1908 – Wall shelves or boxes are somewhat common in Canadian antiques. Much like the square versions of today, these boxes would hang on the wall and serve to display special items or keep little things organized. No matter how small the house, a homeowner could always find room for a wall box. What makes this one so great is the hand carved “1908” date, and the photograph of two stylish young men. It’s not a selfie, but the photograph proves that even people at the turn of the century wanted to look cool.

History is often best understood through the lives of everyday people. One of my favourite things about working on Collectivator is learning about Canadian history through the items that people post. I’m always being introduced to something new (ironically, with something old). I hope you enjoyed a little bit of Canadian history today and Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day from Collectivator

The Collectivator Upgrade is Here!

I’m back! Greetings friends! First I want to say I’m sorry I dropped off the face of the Earth. I missed writing this blog and I never intended to be away from it for so long. I got swept up in an exciting project and I knew I couldn’t write until I was done…

The Collectivator upgrade is here! It’s finally here! After nearly a year of discussions, plans, timelines, testing, feedback, bug fixing, and giant leaps of faith, we are finally here. None of this would have been possible without a Toronto based company called Qaribou, and the amazing talents of developer Joshua Koudys. I am so excited about this new chapter in our enterprise. We rebuilt Collectivator from the ground up, and I can honestly say it has been one of the most challenging and rewarding projects of my working life.

I invite you to visit Collectivator, and click around to see what all this fuss is about. Just gaze upon the loveliness of our shiny new homepage:

The fabulous new face of Collectivator!
So what’s the big deal about a website redesign? Everything. Literally everything. We completely changed not only the design, but the back-end CMS (content management system) that supports all the new functions. Josh wrote code for new interfaces, new posting procedure, new search… there was basically no part of Collectivator we didn’t take apart and put back together. Designer Denise Pinto made us look oh so cool with a bright, coherent theme that expertly showcases the items. One huge improvement is our touch-based mobile support. We finally look good on a tablet! Swiping through thumbnails feels natural, and it definitely makes browsing antiques more fun.

I’m not going to bore you with details about every little thing we’ve done (explore and find out for yourself!). But to give an idea of the hours put into this upgrade here are some notes I still had lying around my desk. Yes, I have a computer, and yes, I still write everything down like it’s the turn of the last century:


Who needs emails when you can write large format, rambling notes? Developers love ’em!

Diagrams of possible webpages, notes from feedback, and my own pearls of wisdom like “maybe less white space but still have some?”, “people are circles, items are squares” and “I like dots”. In the end a lot of it was changed, or rejected, but the big vision was realized. Again, I am so grateful for the people who helped get us here.

As we begin a new phase at Collectivator, I look back with pride on our original concept and design. Eight years ago my husband Anson Chan originally created the site for my dad, Phillip Ross. The three of us working together honed our system through concept, design and good old trial and error. The bedrock of the site has always been quality stock and it continues to this day. We’ve been able to attract some of the best antique dealers around who are experts in their fields. We’ve had encouragement from established collectors, and random strangers on the street. We’ve been able to grow a professional solution for one antique dealer into a vibrant selling platform for many. The most important thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you to everyone who visits the site, and everyone who has joined us on our journey to becoming an antiques and vintage destination.

The new tagline for Collectivator is “Seeking the Authentic” and that’s what I am committed to do. Real antiques, real art, real vintage. I want to make Collectivator a vibrant community not only for selling, but for education and encouragement – especially for new collectors. It’s exciting to think about what is possible now! If I had to encapsulate all our work into one image (having used the exciting pile of papers image already), I think it would be this screenshot from one of our many meetings:


That’s Josh in front, Anson and I in the little boxes, and Josh’s cat Sebastian performing a classic photo bomb. Every meeting should be interrupted by adorable cats.

I welcome your comments! Thanks for reading this self-congratulatory post about my business (next time I’ll get back to cool old stuff I promise). Cheers!