Queen’s University

My son is in his final year of high school and now faced with the task of choosing a university to attend next year.  Selecting a university by program is important but I have come to realize that the ‘feel’ of the campus ranks very high too.  So we have been visiting campuses every weekend.  Recently our travels took us to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Walking around the campus gives the best overview.

My niece (a Queen’s student) was our tour guide. Thanks Jen

Founded in 1841, Queen’s has a lot of historical presence.  Most buildings including all constructed before the 1960’s are faced with limestone giving many of Queen’s buildings a castle-like appearance.

Ban Righ Hall, opened in 1925, is the first student residence on the Queen’s campus that also provided dining facilities.  The historical dining hall could have been the inspiration for Dickens Oliver Twist, “Please sir, I want some more”.  Outside the dining hall’s large windows was terrace seating perfect for eating on a sunny day.

Goodes Hall, a 110 year-old Victorian schoolhouse, has been preserved into the Queen’s School of Business.

Blending the old with the new Goodes Hall recently expanded combining the history of the 1892 schoolhouse with the contemporary design of a 75,000 sq. ft. wing addition.

Much of the old architecture in Goodes Hall was maintained such as the grand maple staircase, maple wainscoting and tin ceilings.  Once again I felt like I was walking into an old movie set.

The old and new architecture blend together quite beautifully.

A ‘green’ roof bridging the two buildings together is very cool.  (pun intended!)

And to top it all off Queen’s University sits right on the shore of Lake Ontario so we finished our tour with a picnic lunch on the beach.  What’s not to love about a university on the beach!?

All images via Modmissy


Nostalgia is defined as ‘a sentimental longing for the past’.

At what point in our life do we start to become nostalgic; begin to feel a sentimental longing?

Curious about the logic of ‘nostalgia’ I started asking younger family members and friends what they felt about a particular antique or item from the distant past.  Did it conjure up a certain feeling or a sense of longing for them?  Would they feel a sense of yearning yet?

Ralph Lauren once said, “There is a way of living that has a certain grace and beauty.  It is not a constant race for what is next, rather, an appreciation of what has come before.”  Adding an antique or vintage item to a room can give the space a sense of history and soul.  Antiques are the signposts to our collective past.

I love visiting antique shops even though I lean more towards the contemporary when it comes to my homes décor, I find there is something sentimental about touching and seeing things from the past.  An old teacup reminds me of my Grandmother, the smell inside an antique oak hutch reminds me of my aunt’s Victorian home and a Sunbeam mixer pulls at my heartstrings reminding me of baking cakes as a child with my Mother.

So…..is it about going back and being inspired?  Or is it those who live in the past limit their future?

What makes you nostalgic??



Yonge and Adelaide St

Sitting at the corner of Yonge St and Adelaide St in downtown Toronto are the Lumsden Building and Dundee Place. A picture of contrasts; old architecture and new architecture. Bricks and mortar. Granite and glass.

I always write about change; that change is good. But sometimes change is not by choice but is the result of modification to fit the present and accommodate the future. In 1909 a transformation took place, one of Toronto’s early skyscrapers was built. Standing at an impressive 10 stories high The Lumsden was unrivaled by the 3 and 4 story surrounding structures. In 1909 Yonge St was lined with drug stores, Biltmore hat shops, YWCA Cafeterias, tea rooms, menswear shops, luncheonettes and tailors. But the future was business, and businesses needed upscale addresses. The Lumsden provided that. Fast forward to 1991, more opportunities were needed at the corner of Yonge and Adelaide so Dundee Place was built providing 31 floors of business opportunities. So….which building will stand the test of time?

Here is a photo showing The Lumsden on Yonge Street in 1939.

  1. Photo Courtesy of City of Toronto Archives
  2. Photo by Modmissy



The Thornton-Smith Decorating Company

I recently wrote about the dining set I inherited from my parents.  https://modmissy.com/2012/02/23/the-dinette-table/.   The table, 6 chairs and buffet are mahogany with a French polish finish.  My mother steadfastly protected the beautiful sheen of that table and buffet. i.e. “Get your sticky fingers off that table!” (I heard that a lot growing up!)  Along with the china and silver, the buffet was the place where my mother stored her ‘important papers’.  So when I inherited the mahogany dining set I also inherited my mother’s decorating history.  Underneath the drawer liners were the receipts and invoices of many of the furniture pieces my parents had purchased over the years.  My mother took her interior decorating seriously.  She did a lot of research and inquiry before making any purchase.  In the late-1960’s my mother decided that what the living room needed was 2 occasional chairs.  So she began her research.  That research took her to The Thornton-Smith Company; Furnishers ·Decorators· Designers located on Yorkville Avenue in downtown Toronto.  Thornton-Smith was a legendary Toronto design influence that helped to single-handedly define Toronto interiors for nearly a century.  Thornton-Smith sold custom furniture, fabrics, rugs, drapery; decorated the Royal Alexander Theatre, parts of Massey Hall, the former Walker House Hotel, the Senate Chamber in Ottawa and painted stencil decoration for many Ontario churches.  For my mother Thornton-Smith provided her with 2 bergere-style chairs.  But this was the late 1960’s, long before technology, so before my mother purchased her chairs her initial inquiries, received via Canada Post, were artist sketches of the different chair designs.  From these various sketches my mother decided on 2 of the chair styles.  The first chair she chose was the chair I wrote about last April https://modmissy.com/2011/04/15/my-purple-chair/ .  I have recovered and re-stained the chair but the style is the same.  The 2nd chair I also still have.  I like to think that I not only inherited 2 nice chairs but a piece of Toronto decorating history.

Here is the original envelope my mother received.  Note the date stamp – Nov. 18, 1968.

Here are the artist sketches of the various chairs my mother received. The first photo is the original sketch of my purple chair.  The 2nd photo is the original sketch of my other chair my mother purchased.

All images via Modmissy

Electricity – Food for Thought

This morning when I sat down at my computer…..no internet service.  Arrrggh!!  I got it up and running after a while but not without a little frustration.  Soon after while researching for today’s post I came across a photo I had taken.  The photo actually stopped me in my tracks and made me reflect.  I had risen this morning to the sounds of my clock radio.  I had turned on the light in the bathroom to brush my teeth.  I had plugged in the kettle to make a cup of tea.  I had cooked my oatmeal in the microwave.  I had started the dishwasher.  And of course there is always another load of laundry to do so I started that too.  So by the time I sat down in front of my computer, with or without internet service, I had used electricity several times; without even thinking about it.  I had subconsciously assumed it would be available to serve me in all my requirements.  And it had.  So when I saw this photo I realized how fortunate I am to have electricity.  Most houses were connected to electricity in the 1920’s to 1930’s.  This photo showing an advertisement from the February 1925 issue of The Ladies Home Journal magazine stating “Does the Home You Love Love You?”  gave me a reality check.  With the introduction of electricity into the home the method of boiling water, cooking food, ironing clothing, cleaning house, heating bath water or warming baby’s milk became as easy a “pressing a button – or pushing a plug into a handy convenience outlet”.  In the advertisement Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company asked if your beautiful home gave you anything back in return for the love you bestowed upon it.  “Does it make your days easier and your evenings brighter?  It both can and does, if it is an electrified home.”  Remarkable!!  Could you imagine life without ‘appliances’?  And I was annoyed because my internet was slow. 

All images via Modmissy


Peace.  John Lennon sang about it, “Imagine all the people living life in peace.”  Carlos Santana said “The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.”  And of course Mother Teresa’s words of inspiration, “Peace begins with a smile”.  Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s my lexicon of idioms included ‘groovy baby’, ‘mod’, ‘cool’, dig it and of course ‘peace’.  ‘Mod’ has definitely stuck around for me and ‘peace’, well I love that one too although I no longer go around saying, “hey, peace baby” but I do love the peace symbol.  The internationally recognized symbol for peace was designed in 1958 for the nuclear disarmament movement.  The symbol is a combination of the semaphore signals for the letters ‘N’ and ‘D’ representing nuclear disarmament; semaphore being the system used for conveying information at a distance by means of hand-held flags. 


I must confess though I still love things with the peace symbol on them.  I have a black vest that I purchased in the ‘80’s (that I won’t part with) and a belt buckle that I recently purchased with the symbol.



So it was no surprise that when I came across Jonathan Adler’s www.jonathanadler.com Mod Peace Footstool I fell in love.  The handmade, 100% wool, needlepoint top on a fabulous green stool is a sure way to bring the thought of peace to your home.  Peace baby!



48 Years Ago Today

Today marks the 48th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Kennedy was fatally shot on Friday November 22, 1963 at 12:30pm, Central Standard Time, while travelling in a Presidential motorcade through Dallas, Texas.  The pursuing ten-month investigation by the Warren Commission concluded that the President was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone and Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald before Oswald could stand trial.  These conclusions over the years have been considered ‘suspect’ to the American public.  Today as I read about what happened on that day 48 years ago it gave me goose bumps.  There were so many convoluted details pertaining to the assassination and theories as to what really did happen.  The who’s, the why’s, the where’s.  It made me think of the saying “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”.   On that note, weaving is a method of fabric production where two sets of yarns, the warp yarn and the weft yarn are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric.  The method in which the warp and weft are interwoven determines the type of fabric.  The three basic weaves are the plain weave, the twill weave and the satin weave.  Weaving was originally performed on a hand-loom but the Industrial Revolution brought about mechanized weaving.   And while on the subject of fabric, Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of J.F.K., became a fashion icon for her taste in clothing worn during her husband’s presidency.  The first lady was also known for the restoration of the White House interior which she thought was furnished with undistinguished pieces that lacked a sense of history.  The first Lady quoted, “I just feel that everything in the White House should be the best”.  On that note, may your ‘house’ always be at its best!