Little Trinity Church, Toronto

Trinity Street takes its name from Little Trinity Church, the oldest surviving church in Toronto. It was part of the survey laid out in 1835-1855 by Toronto developers John Arnold and James Lukin Robinson.

The church, built in 1842, gave its name to the street it was on, Trinity Street. Little Trinity should not be confused with the Church of the Holy Trinity on Trinity Square which was built four years later, in 1847.

The first rector of Little trinity had a great influence on this early part of Toronto. An inscription inside the church reads in part "To the memory of the the Rev. William Honeywood Ripley, B.A., of University College, Oxford . . . After devoting himself during the six years of his ministry to the advancement of the spiritual and temporal welfare of this congregation, he fell asleep in Jesus . . . 1848 . . . age 34 years."

Little Trinity Church was successfully restored after a fire gutted its interior in 1961. Source: Streets of Stratford, 2004.

Trinity Church was the site of Shakespeare's baptism in Stratford-on-Avon, 1564

Shakespeare's Church, Stratford-on-Avon Church.of.the.Holy.Trinity.original.

Interior of Shakespeare's Church, Stratford-on- Avon,,where he was baptized on April 26, 1564. Source: (

The Grand Master Furniture makers

In the first half of the 20th century, Stratford was home to Canada's largest furniture industry. It employed about a quarter of the city's workforce, the second largest industry, after the railway operations, which employed about a half. During the 1920s, almost one-sixth of all the furniture made in Canada was made in Stratford. The success of the furniture trade can be explained by Stratford's location as a hub on the railway systems of the GTR and CNR, which carried its products far and wide in six directions. Most significant was the main line northeast to Toronto and Montreal, and southwest to Chicago, though the line to Buffalo was also important. Consequently, Stratford furniture was sold all over North America. Source: Stratford Furniture Industry Visit Stratford

George McLagan

George McLagan

Porteous and McLagan

In Upper Canada, furniture plants usually originated in one of two predictable ways: a sawmill and planning mill would expand into the manufacture of window and door frames as was the case with the Scrimgeours. Alexander Scrimgeour and his sons David and Alexander Jr. built many fines homes and buildings in early Stratford. George Porteous joined the firm and developed the furniture wing of the operation. In September 1886, a small news item appeared in the local newspaper: Messrs. McLagan and Porteous, two enterprising and industrious young men, have leased the furniture manufacturing shops from the Scrimgeour Brothers.

"Canadian-born and skilled in cabinetry work from his learning years in the furniture mecca of Grand Rapids, Mich., the young McLagan arrived in town full of plans and enthusiasm. Canadian furniture still was, for the most part, heavy, unoriginal, often with ugly proportions and overpowering lacings of gingerbread decoration. Into this scene came the young George McLagan, hating the ornate and the fussy, possessing a finely tuned knowledge of how to make furniture strong and substantial, yet graceful in proportions, and both simple and dignified.

"On the night of March 1, 1900, George and most of Stratford were packed into the old ice rink where the junior hockey team was playing Peterborough in the second game of a home-and-home OHA playoff series. The Stratford team had a deficit of several goals to make up and tension was mounting. Midway through the game, word raced through the rink. "The Easson Mill is burning! McLagan’s is on fire too." In minutes, the rink was emptied of a third of the spectators. George McLagan stood on the crowded Huron Street Bridge with his fellow citizens and watched his factory burn.

"That did not deter George McLagan. He asked that his bonds be guaranteed for a proposed new, $35,000 four-storey factory on Trinity Street. The ratepayers agreed, and McLagan in 1901 built the first major plant in the east end of Stratford." (Floodtides of Fortune by Adelaide Leitch)

In 1916, the McLagan Phonograph Corp. Ltd. introduced more than a dozen floor-model phonographs with the slogan, "The McLagan Phonograph, It Speaks For Itself, Ask to Hear It." The McLagan factory imported the motor, tone arm and reproducers from third-party suppliers. The distinct features of McLagan Phonographs are the McLagan-Fletcher tone arm and the reproducer, from Chicago.

The McLagan plant was used by the McLagan Furniture Co. until 1937. It was vacant from 1937 to the fall of 1939, when the Department of National Defence leased it from the McLagan interests. It was converted into barracks early in December 1939, and the Perth Regiment moved in. They were succeeded in January 1941 by soldiers of the Royal Netherlands Army. Subsequently, other smaller formations occupied the building until it was vacated by June 1944." (Stratford Beacon 1945)

Grand Master Furniture

Grand Master Furniture

93 Trinity St., 2022 Photo Fred Gonder

The Canadian Wooden Aircraft Co.

Major changes happened in the furniture industry in the post-Second World War period. In 1946, the Canadian Wooden Aircraft Co. used knowledge gained during the war to invent a new line of furniture, made with bent laminated wood and moulded plywood. The line won many awards for modern design and led to an explosion in that type of utilitarian furniture. It was the first company to successfully introduce moulded wood to the residential market.

Two Polish airmen, W. Czerwinski and H. Styholt, who worked at Canadian Wooden Aircraft making plywood components for the Mosquito aircraft, developed the company's designs. Their line of furniture included a dining table, dining chair and two armchairs (one pictured here) made of bent laminated wood and moulded plywood. They were inspired by the 1930s designs of Alvar Aalto.

At some point during, or just after, the Second World War, the Canadian Wooden Aircraft Co. became a division of Imperial Rattan Co. Ltd. Source: Emily Carr University

Imperial Furniture Mfg. Co. Ltd.

By 1951, the Imperial furniture company, which had taken over the Aircraft company, had moved into the Trinity Street factory. The Imperial furniture company began in 1905 as the Imperial Rattan Co. Ltd., a producer of rattan furniture for indoor and outdoor spaces. In 1941 the company launched a line of furniture designed by famous Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen and described as “modern with a purpose.” Made of “good Canadian birch,” the line was designed with mass production in mind.

By 1949 the company had changed its name to Imperial Furniture Mfg. Co. Ltd. Two years later, it hired Dutch designer Jan Kuypers to develop innovative new furniture designs. In the next few years, Kuypers set the pace for furniture design across Canada. He won 25 of the 120 national design awards in his first three years with Imperial. This made the Stratford company able to compete successfully with Scandinavian furniture that was sweeping North America.

Image: Design Resource Source: Vintage Home Boutique

Jan Kuypers design

Hartman Krugg

Hartman Krug

Krug Inc. was founded in 1880 by Hartman Krug, a cabinet maker of German heritage, who had settled in the small community of Berlin, Ont. (now Kitchener), in the late 1870s. Krug had worked for several years in the wood-working trade before starting his own small factory. By 1900 he was manufacturing several product lines which included upholstered office chairs and hand-carved residential furniture. The ever-growing demand for Krug furniture made necessary the construction of a massive four-storey factory in Berlin (now Kitchener).

The factory covered almost two city blocks and was widely known as the largest of its kind in the British Empire. It was evident by the late 1970s that Krug was growing out of its huge Kitchener plant, and in 1980, it bought Imperial Furniture of Stratford. At the time, Imperial had about 150 employees manufacturing residential and contract furniture in its large plant at 93 Trinity St. Krug immediately moved its large lumber and kiln-drying operations to Stratford, and also began producing its new traditional desk line here.

Moving into the desk market was a huge and risky undertaking. But it proved to be a key factor in Krug's future. The successful traditional line gave birth to a new era at Krug. Several contemporary desk lines were designed and began full production in the following year. A line of conference tables was added to boost an already diverse product offering and reinforced Krug's mandate of keeping pace with the ever-changing needs of its customers.

In 2006, Krug's Trinity Street building was the last vestige of the furniture industry in Stratford to close.

Source : Waterloo Regional Generations