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As the Museum’s Heritage Village comes to close at the end of this month, September’s artifact is the piano stools. There are four piano stools found throughout the village; one in Tempest House, McQueen Church, Campbell Cabin and the Pipestone Creek Store. In the Store and the Campbell Cabin the stools are placed in front of pianos. At the other two locations, they are found in front of pump organs.
We often seen piano stools in front of organs, but properly speaking this isn’t historically correct. An organ stool is quite different from a piano stool. They are constructed from a large, circular centre piece with a thick padded seat on top. Organ stools are also frequently upholstered in horse hair fabric for durability. The legs are stubby, but ornamental cast metal ones screwed onto the round base. Probably due to the upholstered tops, organ stools were not conserved the way piano stools have been. The upholstered tops padded the musicians bottom as they pumped the instrument to get air flowing, thus creating the musical sound. If the organ was old or during a dry winter, the performer would have to pump rapidly to get a decent sound!
Few people would know that Canadian piano stools often have a name plate underneath the seat which informs where it was made. The stools in the Tempest House and Campbell Cabin are from the Doherty Piano & Organ Company of Clinton, Ontario. The Church stool is a Thomas from Woodstock, Ontario. The stool is the Pipestone Creek Store does not have the name plate but it is associated with an English piano, denoting that it likely came from England.
Many small towns in Ontario had large factories manufacturing a variety of goods such as pianos, organs, stoves, finished furniture, horse buggies, and more. Transportation improvements created competition that either shut them down or moved them to bigger cities. Many would have shipped their products westward thus making it into the Heritage Village.
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