• Around 1881, Alfred Doig built a large commercial block on the west side of Queen Street North.  Alf planned that the building would house three businesses including his new hardware store.1
  • The ‘Doig Block’ was constructed using red brick with contrasting biscuit coloured trim, locally sourced from Norton’s brickyard.  The patterning of the brickwork suggests that there were two residences above the stores on the second floor
  • The block stood on the site of Samuel Sterne’s former hotel which had burned down the previous year 2
  • Doig stocked his store with myriad items including buckets,  flashings, troughs, stove pipes etc made by resident tinsmith George Beamish3
  • Doig, Reeve  of Bolton in 1882-83,  later headed out west, selling out both the business and property in 1890 to Joseph F. Warbrick Jr. 4
  • Joe, age 23, fashioned himself as ‘The Hardware Man of Bolton’.  5 He only ran the business for a couple of years before selling it to G. Clement of ‘Clement and Co’ but retained ownership of the building itself. 6
  • In 1896, O. M. Hodson (Oscar Maxy Hodson) purchased the business.  With experience as a hardware merchant in Drayton, Hodson came to Bolton with his new bride Hanna.  7

    This remarkable ‘staged’ photo is a permanent reminder of the Hodson hardware store era from 1896-1906
  • Hodson sold to Robert Smith in January 1906 and, with that, began the 71 year ‘Smith & Schaefer’ hardware legacy in Bolton 8
  • 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.

    Doig Block circa 1906. The Enterprise offices are on the lefthand side, George Nunn’s shop is in the centre and the hardware store is on the righthand side of the block.
  • 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
  • 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

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.  King Street East at David Street

Photo was taken from the north hill looking southwest across the river to the village beyond.

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
  • John Harper’s house at 11 Nancy Street remains standing and is part of the Heritage Conservation District
  • 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 shopping centre
  • Fredda and Bert Schaefer’s house at 32  King Street remains standing, part of the Heritage Conservation District

32 King Street West. Bert and Fredda Schaefer’s circa 1932 house, built using timbers salvaged from a house in the former hamlet of Castlederg

11 Nancy Street, built circa 1887, was inherited by John Harper’s wife Minnie Ruston in 1929

  1. The Enterprise, Editor’s Scratch Pad Notes, November 5th, 1975
  2. Region of Peel Archives, BOL77, Blk 4, Lot 15, Inst #271 notes Doig’s purchase of the property
  3. Enterprise, Editor’s Scratch Pad Notes
  4. Region of Peel Archives, BOL77, Blk 4, Lot 15, Inst #??
  5. I.R. Dalton and C.W. Strong, Banking in Bolton: The Early Days, November 1995
  6. Clement & Co were listed in the 1894 Bolton Business Directory as hardware merchants
  7. BOL77, Blk 4, Lot 15, Inst#?
  8. Fredda Schaefer, The Nuts and Bolts of Schaefer Hardware, presentation March 1993