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Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre​

33 Victoria Street North (in the town of Saugeen Shores)
Southampton, ON Canada N0H 2L0

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Early Furniture Makers

Home | Stories & Artefacts | Early Furniture Makers

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Bruce County is well known for its commercial furniture manufacturers.  Operating just before the rise of the great furniture factories, were several skilled furniture makers.  Often these makers had other occupations and created pieces for family members and close friends.   The furniture featured above represents some of these makers.

One bonnet chest was made by John P. Klempp.  Born in 1852, Klempp, was a cabinet maker who came to the area in the late 1860s, and settled in Carlsruhe.  Though by 1880 Klempp had given up his trade, and operated a hotel in Neustadt, and later one in Walkerton, he continued to make furniture for his family.  It is not known who this piece was made for, or when it was made, but it was passed down through members of the Klempp family and bears his name as maker.

 The bonnet chest, devoid of decoration, was built by Frederick Weigel of Moltke.  Frederick came to Ontario with his father Conrad, brother Baelzer and his sister Catherine in the mid 1860s.  They originally settled in Grey County, but he and his brother moved to Moltke in the late 1870s and set up business there.  Frederick was a blacksmith, had a cider mill, and acted as Postmaster until moving to farm on Lot 28, Concession 6, Carrick Township.  There he farmed until his death in July of 1915.  The chest was made as a wedding gift to his sister Catherine when she married Carl Holm in 1868. 

The dressing table stand was made by Peter Bartleman of Maple Hill.  Born in Scotland in 1795, Bartleman came to Canada with his family in the early 1800s.  During the 1850s, he moved from the Ottawa area to Maple Hill where he eventually had 200 acres of land.  Peter Bartleman was known throughout the Maple Hill and Walkerton area; he made all of the furniture for his and his children’s homes, and even created a large clock tower attached to his barn that faced the well-travelled Durham Road.  Bartleman died in 1881, but the clock tower, known as Haddington Tower, lasted until a windstorm blew it over in 1912.

The last chest featured above was made for John Polfuss Sr. ca. 1890. The Polfuss family farm was located on the 14 & 15 concession in Carrick Township. John Polfuss Sr. passed down the chest to his son, Charles F. Polfuss, who passed it to his daughter, the donor.
The chest was a part of various furniture pieces that were made for the Polfuss family by an unknown German furniture maker in the Formosa, Ontario area.

To discover all things furniture in the online collection, Click Here

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A boy looking at Last Frontier Ehibit
This exhibit offers programming counters that provide space for community groups to demonstrate their skills and extend opportunities to teach visitors about a simpler