So there’s been some good action in the comments section of my recent post on vintage tabletop hockey games (you can skip to the comments section here). One of the things that my friend Earl (whom we have to thank for this whole tabletop-hockey thread) said in a comment today really stuck with me. He was writing about the Munro Hockey Game, a bare-bones tabletop model that brought endless hours of fun to kids in the middle of the last century. As you can read here, the game was invented and produced by Donald Munro in his Toronto home, and it caught on thanks to being picked up and marketed by the two Canadian retail (and catalogue) giants, Eaton’s and Simpson’s. As Earl put it so well, it was back in “that halcyon Murray Westgate era when Canadians still made things with their own hands.” (As opposed to importing them from China, as we do today.)
Anyway, that got me thinking about a couple of other things that I’ve happily collected for the Manse, including the folding card-table set that you see atop this post (placed in the Manse’s children’s corner, which features a lot of vintage Fisher-Price toys). You do remember this table-and-chair set, right? Of course you do. Your grandparents had it. Everyone’s grandparents had it back in the 1960s. It was where you played your first-ever game of Monopoly, after you were given it for Christmas in about 1968. Where your grandparents played Canasta with friends. Where your little brother was parked to do crayon drawings when he was underfoot.
Oh all right, that’s all me (and my little brother). But I know that most readers have most certainly seen just this chair-and-table set before. And I’m guessing that the reason is that it was probably sold, like Donald Munro’s tabletop hockey game, through the Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogues. The ubiquity and popularity of those handy retail tools made many such items equally ubiquitous in Canadian households.
You know me well enough by now to know that I was very happy indeed when I found such a table-and-chairs set for sale at the Stratford (Ont.) Antique Warehouse and so could add it to my midcentury collection. But it was only when I got it unloaded at the Manse that I discovered something that added to its niftiness, aside from my childhood Monopoly memories. Look at this label, still affixed to one (and only one) of the chairs:
Made in little Brighton, Ont.! (Not very far away from the Manse in Queensborough, as it happens.) Given the aforementioned ubiquity of these sets, I’m guessing that Cooey Metal Products Limited of Brighton was just pumping them out for a few decades to fill demand. (In fact, thanks to the internet and more specifically a post on an interesting blog I’ve just discovered called Progress is fine, but it’s gone on for too long, I have learned that Cooey Metal Products was “a manufacturer of utility metal furniture, such as stacking chairs, folding card tables and chairs which were sold through large retail chains and furniture stores across Canada. The plant was in operation from 1941 (to) 1989.”
It’s interesting to think that once upon a time in small towns and cities across Canada there were modest-sized factories manufacturing all manner of things – things that Canadians needed, wanted and used.
I miss those days.