This merchant's house illustrates the comfort and affluence enjoyed by the
town's elite. The entertaining of guests at afternoon teas and dinner
parties was of vital importance to a family's image. The lady of the house
took her duties seriously -- managing the household, raising children and
creating a beautiful home. She surrounded her family with beautiful and
tasteful objects that reflected its social status, and its degree of
cultivation and education.
In the drawing room, the dominant feature was the fireplace, on which were displayed the family's most prized possessions. Porcelain vases, photographs, busts and statuettes, mounted birds, and a variety of memorabilia adorned the mantle. The main furnishings included a sofa or settee, and a variety of small chairs and tables arranged to facilitate conversation in small groups. Some furnishings were purchased locally, while others were either inherited or ordered from larger centres, such as Toronto.
The merchant, his wife and his children gathered here for breakfast,
dinner and evening tea. The sharing of daily meals was an important part
of their lives. A formal dinner party was the premier event in Victorian
social life. The menu would consist of at least six courses, all served
on fine chinaware. Upper-middle-class households typically had two
servants, who cooked the meals, waited on table and performed most
household chores, including endless polishing of silver.
The merchant used his private study to relax or to conduct business. The
solid furniture, sombre colours and simple arrangement show that this was
a very private and much-used room. Here the master of the house would
catch up on correspondence, pay
household bills and read the
evening newspaper. Occasionally he
received friends and associates on business or community matters. The
study was also the place where family members received advice or