A story with every piece
By Kim Goggins
Since last November, when Steve and Wendy Hinton purchased the former Agnew property, they have rewired, refinished and revitalized the 19th Century barn, lovingly restoring it to not only its former glory but something more. Something very meaningful to them and they hope, meaningful to the Washago community.
It is here where they will showcase all of their Canadiana antiques. So, like they do with every remarkable piece they receive, they are meticulous in their restoration, taking great care and being sure to do everything right the first time.
“We want to put all of our product under one roof;’ says Steve, noting the pieces they keep in their space at the Cottage Emporium in Port Carling and at their home in Atherley where they are open by appointment only.
“We’ve had many dealers offer to rent space and we may allow a couple of our dear friends to bring products in but it would be under our supervision and our stamp of approval because that’s what people coming in here to buy. After 40 years we know our stuff.”
The pair started out as collectors all of those years ago, as most dealers do. Early in their marriage, they built a home on Green River Drive and it’s here where they started their fami ly and started turning their hobby into a small business.
“Hinton Antiques began with the birth of our first child. Truly” grins Steve. “It was a question of who goes back to work because Wendy was an executive assistant at HRC (Huronia Regional Centre) at the time and I was a history teacher … We just thought it best for mom to stay home and Hinton Antiques was born.”
Every night, after their daughters were tucked in, the couple worked tirelessly on the antique pieces they had – first in their basement and then in a second building they erected on the property.
“We would talk about the day, about tomorrow and what we had to get done,” recalls Steve. “Everything we’ve done, we’ve done together.”It’s no wonder they have an affinity for the area. It’s where everything – their family and their business- started.
“We love Washago,” says Wendy. “Many people in the area know this property and I think they’re really happy that it’s going to be restored … As we’re working out here cars honk as they drive by on 169, which is kind of cool.”
Of course, we would be remiss not to mention the tireless dedication of their employee Josh Farrell, who has been overseeing and participating in the construction since November 2013. Both Steve and Wendy acknowledge the importance of Farrell to the renovation and to their business.
As a history teacher for 35 years, Steve is a natural storyteller and takes great interest in the background of each piece they have. “Every piece has a story. It’s the stories that tell these pieces,” he says.
He laughingly recalls a time when he went to a home to assess a beautiful vintage table and he asked the owner, a very elderly man, how old it was. When the man said, ‘Older than me; Steve asked him how he knew that. The man grinned very wide and said, ‘Because I was born on it.”
These are the stories he just loves. Furniture made in pioneer settlements, where people were homesteading ‘doesn’t get any better’ for him.
“Steve is the historian, that’s what attracted him in the first place, I think;’ says Wendy. “We put a tag with the story of each piece in a sleeve and put it with the piece – or at least we try to – with measurements and the background, like where it’s from.”
“It’s also important to note any repair and/or restoration that we did,” adds Steve.
The Hintons have been specializing in Canadiana antiques for 40 years and they are trusted to restore and refinish family heirlooms in a meticulous fashion, and their thorough evaluations help people establish an accurate value for their possessions.
“Sometimes, we work on a piece that was so great and was so mistreated and we say we’re going to do it anyway,” notes Steve. “And we won’t get paid by the hour for what we’ve done but at the end of the day it’s on the protected list and we take great pride in that, that whoever buys it from that point on will revere it. They will take good careof it. What we can hope for is that we are custodians. Our time here will come to an end, but these things should not be lost.”