Going retro.

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It’s not often that I wear a dress while I’m cooking. Nor an apron. (Actually, if I think about it, I’m rarely grinning while I’m cooking, either.)

Not the case, apparently, for the woman depicted in this vintage advertisement.

McClary’s Manufacturing was a London, Ontario-based leader in the production of stoves, coal furnaces, and kitchenware. It was founded in 1847 and merged with four other companies to become General Steel Wares in 1927.

A sign very similar in design to this one had been painted on the exterior of this building in Cambridge, Ontario sometime in the mid-20th century. (I’m unsure if – and for how long – goods were still produced under the McClary name after the merger).

The paint had nearly peeled away, lost to time, when the local Business Improvement Association headed a project to restore the sign in 2012, in an effort to add interest to the downtown core.

And interesting it is. When I look at it, I’m reminded both of how much has changed (the rapid advance of technology and how it impacts our everyday lives; the shift and evolution of gender roles), and of how little has changed (the people in ads are always suspiciously happy to be using the product in question).

I realize that there are people who genuinely look and feel happy when they’re using a stove. I’m just not one of them.


I read about the McClary company and the restoration of the sign here, here, and here.

What’s old is new.

I’m playing along this week in Norm’s Thursday Doors feature.

Today’s doors belong to a barn originally raised in the 1840s, now owned and operated by rare Charitable Research Reserve.



The folks at rare look after over 900 acres of natural land near the confluence of the Grand and Speed Rivers, working to conserve and restore this precious space, while educating and connecting with the community so that this area can be appreciated and enjoyed for generations to come.



The barn is known as the “Slit Barn” – so named for the narrow holes in the walls which were intended to help ventilate the building.


The barn had been in rough shape until rare raised $1.7 million to restore it in 2013 (along with the farmhouse next door, not pictured). The house and barn are now the rare “ECO Centre” (Every Child Outdoors environmental and community facility) where workshops and camps are held for community members. I’ve seen the barn beautifully decked out for weddings and events as well.



This particular property holds an unusual memory for me: About a dozen years ago, on a wet spring evening, I hit a deer with my car along this rural stretch of road – an event to which I attribute my continued anxiety about driving in dark, rainy conditions. (I’m not sure what or who to blame for my anxiety about the bathtub overflowing, forgetting to turn off the stove, and going to parties. But that’s neither here nor there).

In my panic during the moments after impact, I swerved and ended up in the farm’s driveway. The car was a bit damaged, the poor deer didn’t fare well, but I was alright (except for the blubbering and hyperventilating). Back then, the farm buildings weren’t much more than ruins – I’m not sure they were owned by rare yet – and I was too terrified to approach them to ask for help.



The doors are much more inviting now – even on a winter day without a soul in sight.



I always love to see the merging of the old and the new – especially when it fulfills a purpose as important as rare‘s.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by.


More about the Slit Barn and rare can be found here, here and here.