|Description: A walnut hall chair with gothic openwork backs, solid seats and turned supports.|
History: This Gothic Revival hall chair is made of walnut and matches the hall table (979.6.18). They were made by Jacques and Hay Company of Toronto and were probably part of Mary Magrath’s inheritance from her father, William Magrath (1814-1888), in 1888. Gothic Revival in Canada was most popular between 1830-1865 and drew its inspiration from Gothic church architecture. The Gothic peaked arches and trefoil (clover type pattern) motif on these chairs are indicative of this style. The exact table is also a part of the Spadina House Museum collection in Toronto. Jacques and Hay Company was one of the most successful businesses in Canada which has left a legacy of fine furniture.
Founded in 1835, Robert Hay and John Jacques used cabinet making skills learned in Britain to build a thriving business and their first of many factories was located at King and Bay Streets in Toronto. Jacques & Hay Company thrived and expanded many times throughout the nineteenth century and overcame the devastation of two fires in 1854 and 1856.
The company gained notoriety for their designs and quality workmanship. In 1860, Jacques and Hay Company was commissioned to make furniture for the Prince of Wales on his visit to North America and they were also hired to make all the furniture for the prestigious Queen’s Hotel (demolished in 1927 and rebuilt as the Royal York). John Jacques retired in 1870 at the height of his business’s success, and Robert Hay bought out his partner so the company became R. Hay and Company. Robert Hay retired in 1885 transferring ownership to a long time employee, Charles Rogers, who had started with Jacques & Hay in 1851. Charles Rogers and Sons Company remained in business until 1922 continuing the long tradition of fine furniture making. See: Ruth Cathcart, “Jacques & Hay: 19th century Toronto Furniture Makers” (Erin, Ont. : Boston Mills Press, 1986). Oral history: (Sayers, Oct. 11, 1991).