Except for Bank Street south, you won’t find one single area of Ottawa where there is a concentrated section of good shops, but it is worthwhile criss-crossing the city to hunt. If you’re on the hunt for old maps and prints, you should probably drop by John Coles’ Astrolabe Gallery at 71 Sparks Street.
The Antique Shoppe, located at 6588 Forth Line Road in North Gower outside of the city, has good British furniture. Its owners have carried fine furniture, silver and porcelain for years; and some of the items displayed there are carried at the Astrolabe Gallery as well.
And if you happen to be hanging out just outside Ottawa (Carleton Place area), there is one antique store in the Ottawa Valley, called the Log Farm Antiques, that deserves a look; they have been in business for twenty some years and offer a broad selection of items at a decent price.
Toronto is crammed with antiques, collectibles, flea markets and second-hand shops. The best way for a newcomer to start is to visit the areas of the city with the best quality goods and the most knowledgeable dealers. They are generous with advice and will have plenty of ideas for you.
Yonge Street between Bloor and St. Clair: The stores here are almost all high-end places selling fine British, Canadian and European furniture, porcelain, silver and decorative items. This strip has terrific detours branching off from it: Cumberland, Yorkville and Hazelton Avenues as well as Davenport Road. Favourites include Elisabeth Legge Fine Antique Prints at 41B Hazelton Ave., The Blue Pump at 178 Davenport Rd., The Paisley Shop Ltd. at 77 Yorkville Ave., Louis Wine Ltd. nearby at 150 Cumberland St.., and R.A. O’Neil Antiques Ltd. at 100 Avenue Road. It’s a day’s walk around the area but there are so many good places to stop for coffee or a sandwich you will enjoy every minute.
Mt. Pleasant Road between Millwood and Eglinton: One favourite of all the Toronto antiques strips. Lorenz Antiques Ltd. at 701 Mt. Pleasant is one of the city’s best dealers and has superb quality; Bernardi’s Antiques at 699 Mt. Pleasant is a favourite, especially for china; Susan’s Antiques at 585 Mt. Pleasant specializes in good quilts, wicker and transferware, while RomEla Antique Lighting Inc., which has since moved from its Mt. Pleasant location to 316 Yonge Street, has lamps and handmade shades.
Toronto Antique Centre on King Street, near Roy Thomson Hall: My favourite store here, among the many that moved here from the now-defunct Queen’s Quay market, is Cynthia Findlay Antiques at 284 King Street West, whose selection of silver, estate jewellery and porcelain is extraordinary. The King Street centre, at 239 King Street East, is also home to D&E Lake Ltd., selling antique maps, prints and books, (Don Lake has two other locations in Toronto) and Ritchies at 380 King Street East, does terrific auctions of high quality antiques, rugs and pictures, but also regular sales of everyday goods with great finds. They are affiliated with Sotheby’s for major Canadian art sales.
Queen Street – East and West: Running across the bottom of the city, this is a favourite haunt for people looking for collectibles and antiques. For years it suffered, deservedly, from the ‘funky’ label, but now it is much better than that and it’s well worth setting aside a day to stroll all the way along it. Just north of Queen West, at 111 Bathurst St., you’ll find Waddington’s, the other big Toronto auction house – in fact, the biggest in Canada. They have catalogue auctions for the best quality furniture, decorative arts objects, silver and rugs and are in partnership with Joyners for Canadian art. They also offer regular estate auctions – a great bargain bin of stuff.