Hardware

  • In 1880 Alfred Doig built a large commercial block on the west side of Queen Street North to house 3 businesses, including his new hardware store 
  • The ‘Doig Block’ was constructed using local red brick from Norton’s brickyard with contrasting biscuit coloured trim.  The patterning of the brickwork suggests that there were two residences above the stores on the 2nd floor
  • Doig stocked his store with myriad items including buckets,  flashings, troughs, stove pipes etc made by resident tinsmith George Beamish1
  • Doig, Reeve  of Bolton in 1882-83,  later headed out west, selling out to Clement and Co who were listed in the 1894 Bolton business directory as hardware merchants
  • In 1896, O. M. Hodson (Oscar Maxy) purchased the business.  With experience as a merchant, Hodson came to Bolton from Drayton with his new bride Hanna.  The remarkable ‘staged’ photo to the left is a permanent reminder of the Hodson era
  • Hodson sold to Robert Smith in January 1906, and with that began the 71 year Smith & Schaefer hardware legacy in Bolton.  Prior to this, Smith a former tea-taster in the UK and tinsmith Alex Schaefer, his junior partner (and son-in-law) had been running the hardware store in West Monkton

  • Back in 1906, Robert Smith lit his store with acetylene gas lighting, stabled horses for delivery wagons and stored river ice in sawdust for ice boxes.  There was no hydro, no telephone and no indoor plumbing
  • Smith & Schaefer quickly enlarged their premises by purchasing George Nunn’s adjacent shop in 1907.  Nunn, a piano, organ and sewing machine dealer, retired
  • Alex Schaefer managed the tinsmithing plus plumbing and heating, Robert Smith ran the office while Frances Smith looked after the store with the help of John Harper, a young local man who stayed with the business for 53 years
  • Much of the store’s assortment was farm-oriented merchandise; fencing produced a significant revenue stream
  • The Smith and Schaefer families lived above the store until 1911 when they moved into their new house at King and David Street, site of the first Dick foundry
  • In 1924, Robert Smith retired.  Alex Schaefer bought the business, now ‘Schaefer Hardware’, assisted by his son Bert
  • In the 1940s, Bert Schaefer built an addition on the building’s north side where Harry Sheardown’s barber shop and Joseph Strong’s harness shop once stood
  • Jim Schaefer, 3rd Schaefer generation,  took the reins in 1972 and two-years later joined the dealer-owned Home Hardware network
  • In 1977 the business was sold to John and Ann Davidson
Photo circa 1906,prior to purchasing the centre of the block from George Nunn
Alex and Annie Schaefer and their three children: Frances age 8, Bert age 4 and Jack 18 months. Circa 1912 . Note the woven wire fence and gate. # xx? King Street East (corner of King St E and David)

And the buildings?

  • After 107 years as a hardware store, the store has since housed a variety of non-hardware businesses.  It is part of the Bolton Heritage Conservation District (HCD). 
  • The Doig Block was renovated around 2007; the upper floor was re-bricked when additional apartment units were added above and to the rear, but the lower level front facade is original
  • The circa 1887 Neoclassical style house at 11 Nancy Street remains standing and is part of the HCD
  • Robert Smith’s house at the corner of David St and King Street East was demolished in 1988 to make way for the Courtyards of Caledon
  • Fredda and Bert Schaefer’s house at 32  King Street also remains standing, part of the HCD
32 King St W. Bert and Fredda Schaefer’s circa 1932 house built using timbers salvaged from a house in the hamlet of Castlederg
11 Nancy Street, built circa 1887, was inherited by John Harper’s wife Minnie Ruston in 1929
Photo taken after 1918. Humber River in the foreground