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Design Stores

Chief Salvage Co.

Posted by Staff / Posted on December 10, 2010

Chief Salvage Co.The Chief Salvage Co. has appropriately opened in one half of the storefront that housed the Dufferin Smoke Shop, a business that, even when it was still open, seemed like a reliquary of a time now past. Cody Cochrane's curiosity shop is a place bursting with the past, with the detritus of lives - and deaths - spread all over the walls, floors and tabletops inside.

Chief Salvage Co.On a wall near the back of the store, Cochrane has framed the Certificate of Cremation of one Frank N. Eighme, who died early in 1948 in Bloomington, Minnesota. She bought the paper artefact in San Francisco, as part of a lot of funeral parlour records, and decided that this last official record of a man's life deserved to be treated with reverence, like a "precious thing." Her store is full of these provocative, imagination-firing little mementos, some ready to hang, others arranged in careful tableaux.

Chief Salvage Co.Cochrane says she began collecting antiques and curios six years ago when she was living in Scotland, with its "great little junk shops." Back in Canada, she began going on buying trips to Texas, San Francisco and Massachusetts. "I accumulated a couple of storage spaces worth of stuff."

Chief Salvage Co.The finds Cochrane features in her store fall into roughly two groups. The first are institutional, discarded by schools, hospitals, medical offices, churches, funeral parlours and her particular obsession - Masonic lodges and their fraternal cousins: Shriners, Oddfellows, and Loyal Orders of Moose, Elk and sundry other brotherhoods. On one table, she's created a little tribute to Masonic life around a formal portrait of a lodge worthy, composed of books, ribbons, a sash and a collector's plate.

Chief Salvage Co.The second group of goods are souvenirs - the mugs, postcards, badges, trinkets, gewgaws and tiny spoons that we used to bring home in our luggage from vacations in the first heyday of popular tourism. They're often arranged next to the notions that made their way back home in pockets - shells and coral, rocks and feathers - and the odd bit of taxidermy. These make Chief Salvage Co. practically glow with the half-life of road trips on interstates to camp grounds, motels and amusement parks.

Chief Salvage Co."I would say I deal in nostalgia," Cochrane says with a chuckle, though given the youthful profile of Dundas West, her customers are collecting the traces of the lives of parents and grandparents; few, if any, were probably born when her American bicentennial mementos or ceramic presidential busts were new.

Chief Salvage Co.An artist, Cochrane says that the store's taken up so much of her time that her creative energy has been displaced into creating the shadow boxes and assemblages that anchor her displays, like the one in the middle of the store, with an old auctioneer's glass-topped box that's been fitted with a gooseneck light, that illuminates a trio of portraits of military cadets, a silk souvenir scarf from a Wisconsin army base, a pair of animal jaw bones and a mannequin's elegant hand. "I put a lot of thought into them," Cochrane says.

Chief Salvage Co.Each of these items, and the whole store by extension, brings to mind American artists Joseph Cornell, with his impeccably crafted >shadow boxes full of Victorian ephemera. Today, the '60s and '70s are as far away from us as the Victorian era was from Cornell, and our sense of old and intriguing has shifted accordingly, and you could look at Chief Salvage Co. as the souvenir shop for a museum yet to be built.

Chief Salvage Co.Chief Salvage Co.Chief Salvage Co.Writing by Rick McGinnis. Photos by Dennis Marciniak



good! / December 11, 2010 at 09:18 am
excellent! looks like a fun spot!
I was really worried that we would lose the "dufferin smoke shop" signage, which is very excellent and fun as well, on that strip.
Ming / December 11, 2010 at 12:25 pm
Alex replying to a comment from Ming / December 11, 2010 at 05:23 pm
You said it. The whole store looks like it belongs in a landfill.
Silver Falls / December 11, 2010 at 05:38 pm
Alex in Ming in a landfill!
Your store looks awesome Cody!
lana / December 11, 2010 at 08:55 pm
seems like alex and ming might have been happier with an ikea?
Kate / December 11, 2010 at 09:27 pm
Fabulously creative a wonderful monument to our history. Ming and Alex Happy Holidays to you......bah humbug....
Ruth / December 12, 2010 at 01:11 am
Whats wrong with junk? One man's junk, another woman with great taste's treasure. Bookends made of porcelain hands? Thank god that exists. This looks awesome!
Tim / December 12, 2010 at 10:06 am
Awesome. Welcome to the neighbourhood. This strip needs any business that isn't an old man's Sports Bar (the kind of place that Alex and Ming likely hang out in).
Sara / December 12, 2010 at 10:52 am
This store is full of little treasures. So many things I want to buy!
Bob / December 13, 2010 at 02:43 pm
Looks like an interesting store, but without any idea about pricing, I probably won't make the trip unless I'm in the neighbourhood. Too many Toronto 'vintage' and 'salvage' shops are priced ridiculously out of reach, and this review leaves no implication that this shop is any different.
Kate / December 14, 2010 at 02:28 pm
Bob that is where you are wrong......this is the most reasonably priced shop I have been in for a very long time and I agree with you on the rest of the observation.....This store is fun and affordable....
Ryan / February 6, 2011 at 03:13 pm
very cool spot with very reasonable pricing

will definitely be going in regularly
moe / July 13, 2011 at 12:36 am
i don't mind the store if I am in the neighborhood, i hope they keep finding those frames.
ginette / July 23, 2011 at 01:01 pm
This store just had a yardsale in the back alley today. Amazing! It was my first time visiting and I can't believe it took me so long to step in. Things inside are fairly affordable, yard-sale was doubly so! Almost everything was 10$ or under, and there was even a $1 table to boot!

I found the most wonderful vintage dollhouse furniture today. An entire box full for $5! I'm ecstatic, really. ♥
Bill / July 26, 2011 at 04:29 pm
To Chief Salvage:

just wanted to let you know about our barn sale this weekend. picker-friendly prices!
I think it'll be up your alley.
you can get the details here...

ps - great shop!
marla / November 6, 2011 at 09:16 pm
the place is cool!There is so many cool stuff in there!!!Love it!!
maggie / December 14, 2011 at 02:18 am
best spot in the city for antiques and vintage. great prices, owner is a sweetheart
Cassandra / March 7, 2013 at 09:58 pm
I visited the shop for the first time the other day, and I had a tremendous experience! I ended up buying a beautiful antique sewing box/suitcase for a very reasonable price. I wanted to take everything in the shop home with me, and the woman who was working was absolutely lovely. I will most definitely be returning to the shop.

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