Balleycanoe & Co

September 16, 2014 | 19 comments

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On my way home from a few days in Kingston last month, I took a detour through small town Ontario.  The detour was planned … as I was determined to make a stop at Balleycanoe & Co. in Mallorytown.  Fellow blogger Laurie from Viny’et Etc reminded me about this goldmine when she posted a pic of a visit there on her Instagram feed.  Long on my list of must-visits, Balleycanoe & Co just happened to be on my way home from Kingston.

I left Kingston a little later than expected (once you get to know me you’ll realize this happens…a lot), so showed up 15 minutes before closing, hoping that I would have time to browse before closing.  No worries – John Sorensen, the owner – told me to take my time browsing and let him know if I had any questions.

PicMonkey Collage

All I can say is WOW … I was amazed at the volume of stock in the 3 storey barn — there were doors, and floors, columns and mantels, there were windows and moldings, even full staircases.  Stained glass, bathroom fixtures, railings and so much more.  And that was just the barn. Attached to the house was a room full of fixtures – doorknobs, handles, locks and scales!  And as if that wasn’t enough, an adjacent room was full of John’s art pieces.

After picking up a few pieces of my own (you will see them eventually) and having a great chat with John, I was on my way.  As I made my way home I knew I had to share Balleycanoe & Co. with my readers.  This first post  is related to the Architectural Salvage aspect of Balleycanoe & Co.  You’ll want to check back next week though, when I share John’s artwork!


Q1: First of all – Balleycanoe & Company – what is the significance of the name?

Balleycanoe is the name of a road and community nearby.  I picked the name originally because I liked how it sounded.  I did not want to limit what I carried by calling my business something like John’s Salvage.  While I do carry a lot of salvage that is sold for function, I am also interested in the decorative and artistic nature of salvage and in the last few years I have become interested in art and painting.  Later I found out that Balleycanoe was an Irish name which meant, roughly, Village/community of “Canoe” – “Canoe” being an Anglicized version of a family name that was spelled differently.  I like the connection to the idea of community as many of my customers are people I have known over many years.  I am, in fact, now dealing with the sons and daughters of some of my clients from 25 years ago!

Q2:  I was amazed at the volume of stock you had on hand.  How did you collect all of this?  How often do you get new stock?
I do not demolish or take down houses.  Occasionally I will go into a house to take out some features, but the great majority comes from local connections – contractors who have held onto material, people cleaning out sheds, barns, basements, attics etc.  I get some of my best and most interesting stock from a network of pickers, many of whom go back as far as 35 years or so when I was an antique dealer (Rocking Horse Antiques in Ottawa).
PicMonkey Collage 2
Q3:  How long have you been doing this, and how did you get started?
I quit teaching (it was going to be for just a year) the year I turned 30. I stumbled on an opportunity to go partners in an antique store in Ottawa and within the year I had taken full ownership and began my career as owner of Rocking Horse Antiques.  After several years and a fire in the building where I had my store led us to move down here.  I spent a number of years specializing in restoring painted country furniture but I missed the “action”.  I made a lucky purchase of old boards, windows, hardware, doors, etc. and took them to the Odessa Antique Show where I sold most of my load.  Short story is that I started with a few left-over items from this original stock in my barn which grew rapidly to what I have now.  The material was available in quantity when I started and I guess I had “built a better mouse trap” as there was a very strong interest from the public.  I promoted, advertised, hauled the stuff to shows and the word got around.
Not only does John have a barn full of goodies, the gardens surrounding the barn and house are gorgeous.  I wandered the property snapping photo after photo of great vignettes (like the one above).  It was hard to pick just a few for this post.
I would like to thank John profusely for taking the time to answer my questions with such great detail, and a few stories thrown in — that’s just the kind of guy John is — very friendly, AND very busy!
Next week, I’ll share John’s artwork and his upcoming art show Before the Rush.


19 responses to “Balleycanoe & Co”

  1. […] week I told you all about the architectural salvage found at Balleycanoe & Co. in Mallorytown, Ontario.  It is the “PERFECT” spot to […]

  2. Meredith says:

    Those door knobs! Woah. So much more than 15 minutes… Lucky Donna. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Norm Peterson says:

    Excellent blog Donna
    .look forward to more. Will be visiting John soon

  4. Katie says:

    OMG this place is incredible!! I need to make a trip just to shop there!

  5. Oh that garden looks so lovely and those treasures – gasp – wonderful!!

  6. jen says:

    What a lovely spot to stop. I love the rusty old gears. Can’t wait to see John’s artwork.

  7. ‘This’ is my kind of place! I love rusty, weathered crackled and old, and I love seeing salvaged pieces ready to go back out into the world for another round. Thank you so much for sharing, Donna. Balleycanoe is a destination vacation in my books!!

  8. I am soooo jealous! What a fantastic place to wander and get inspired!

  9. Lisa Goulet says:

    Nice stop Donna. I would have loved to poke around here with you. I’ve heard about it for years too but haven’t had the chance to stop. Next time, I’m out that way I’ll be sure to venture in.

  10. I was so thrilled to have discovered this true gem. Thanks for the shout out and awesome interview, I am looking forward to reading about John’s art. xo

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