Fri Jun 24 2011
Globe Furniture’s products went to churches around the world

Furniture making was once a big Waterloo Region industry.

Last week’s “mystery” photo shows the old Globe Furniture Co. in Waterloo. It was first published by The Record in 1956, part of a company profile in a series called The Twin Cities At Work. The “annual payroll for 105 employees reaches more than $360,000,” the article noted.

The Canbar Road plant was known for the ornate wooden pews, altars and pulpits it made for churches in Canada and as far away as Peru and South Africa.

It also made school desks and theatre seats.

Canbar Road no longer exists, but once ran north from Erb Street West in the area west of the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery.

Don Glebe of Kitchener recognized the site in the photo. He worked from 1945 to 1991 at Canbar Inc. (Canada Barrels and Kegs Ltd.). It was also on Canbar Road.

“There were no obvious lines of demarcation between the Globe and Canbar lands so the properties appeared to be one and the same with each other’s raw materials depicted in three different areas,” Glebe said in an email.

In the top right corner of the photo, he noted, you can see part of the railway bridge that crosses the west end of Silver Lake.

If you took the same picture today, he added, Father David Bauer Drive would arc across the top of the photo. To the left you would see the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex and to the right you would see part of Waterloo Park and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Globe Furniture got its start in Walkerville, Ont. (near Windsor) in 1889. It came to Waterloo in 1910.

Harold Braun of Waterloo was once a Globe employee.

“I worked there as a summer student in 1948 in the finishing department on the top floor,” he wrote in an email. “The main job was hand sanding a new design combination school desk and seat between coats of shellac.”

Globe Furniture closed in 1968 after being forced into bankruptcy. The plant next became the home of DeLuxe Upholstering Ltd., which made chairs for the La-Z-Boy Chair Co. of Munroe, Mich., and later was purchased by the U.S. firm. The City of Waterloo acquired the Globe site in 1985 and for a time it provided space for artists, businesses and the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. The plant was demolished in the 1990s.

You don’t have to go far today to see Globe Furniture creations. Just a few of the churches where its products are found are Church of the Holy Saviour in Waterloo, Church of St. John the Evangelist in Kitchener and St. George’s Anglican Church in Guelph.

At the Time Material Co.’s retail barn at 305 Northfield Dr. E., Waterloo (it’s a sister company of Kieswetter Demolition Inc.) you can see the factory’s entrance door on display, also a concrete globe emblem that came from the plant.

Timeless Material still sells wood from the Globe Furniture buildings. The tables at the new Robin’s Nest Coffee House in Elmira were made using Douglas fir beams from the plant.

You can also go online to see dozens of photos of Globe Furniture work, made available by the Waterloo Public Library which has posted them at the heritage web portal

Simply go to the site and search under “Globe furniture.” Also posted are photos of company executives and employees.