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Design Stores

Red Indian Art Deco

Posted by Craig / Posted on August 11, 2008

Red Indian Art Deco

UPDATE (July 2009): Red Indian Art Deco has closed shop in Toronto, and has relocated to Sauble Beach and changed their name.

Sauble Beach Antiques
610 Bruce Road # 8
Sauble Beach, ON - N0H 2G0 - Canada
T: (519) 935-2552

Someone invented a time machine in 1965. It worked for a while, but it broke down at some point and got stuck on Queen Street West. In 1982, it took the name Red Indian. It's the kind of place that's made of memories. Of course, they're someone else's memories, but you feel like they should be yours, if only you could remember. And if you recognize anything from period movies or T.V., you won't be far off the mark. A lot of the stuff in here has been rented over and over again by production companies.

Red IndianThe first question I asked the super talkative owner was where he got the name. It's a weird chunk of Canadian history. The McColl-Frontenac Oil Company was bought out in the 1960's and absorbed, but it once had gas stations across the country, called "Red Indian". The name was a bit of a problem for a while. When he was renting things to City TV, some of the employees objected to the name.

For a guy who talks endlessly about having to retire, he's pretty damned spry. I haven't met such a chippy store owner in a long time. And he doesn't just sell things. He has an encyclopaedic background in mid-20th century history. When it opened in 1982, the store used to be more of an art deco furniture gallery, but he didn't sell much of anything. In the early 90's, Queen Street went bust, and when the recession was over in the late 90's, no-one was left but him. He had another job that kept his store open. "But the public is spending now, so things are O.K.", he says.

Red IndianHis store slowly became a repository for all things cool and funky and mostly forgotten, like milkshake blenders and figurines. As the years go, he keeps expanding his collecting forwards.
Now, he's just starting to collect things from the 1980's, like pinball machines and pac-man games. I actually remember those things from my childhood, which worries me. He says that at some point he's moving to the countryside, where all antique shops go to live out their retirement.

Red Indian20th century collectibles is the name of the game in here. By "collectibles", I mean, well, anything that you can actually collect. And it's not just old junk, or not all just old junk. There are old steel fans out of detective movies and every possible kind of telephone. There's an entire cabinet filled with various once-common household goods. It's all a little past the expiry date, but maybe a Vogue Nylon Hair Net might be useful for someone.

There are endless numbers of every kind of old lamp there could possibly ever be under one roof. And some clocks. I'd say they're retro, except that they're not reproductions, they're the real deal. If it exists, this man has one to sell you. It's probably possible to accurately re-create the interior of a house from each decade from 1930 to 1970 with stuff from this shop. Mid 20th-century means there's so much chrome in the store, for example, it's like someone hijacked 1952 and put it on display.

 Red IndianThere's one jukebox, from 1939. It was the first year they used plastic. It's mostly used as a film prop, but he claims it does actually work. There are microphones from the 1930's, which actually still work (you might need an adaptor, or two, ... one to bring it up to the 60's, then one to bring it up to about 1990, which should be fine). The globes are like little time capsules with no-longer-extant countries on them. There's an old Zenith radio cabinet. I wonder if it gets shortwave?

All the trendy 20-30 somethings are buying teak from the 60's. He can't keep it in stock. It looks modern enough, but with just a touch of historical panache. The day I was there, a desk went for $295.

 Red IndianNothing makes a kitchen more interesting that your grandmother's kitchenware. Bakelite and plastic hold up remarkably well. I think the Odd Couple used something like this 1950's dinner set.

 Red IndianThere used to be a factory in Toronto that made silver things, back when western countries still had factories. Incidentally, the factory was responsible for a lot of the pollution in the Don river. One thing they made is a silver Airplane ashtray, recently bought by a pilot. The base lights up, making it bona-fide kitsch. What's amazing is that he's sold about 150 in his life, some of them more than once, in fact. He sometimes gets them back, when customers get old or the wife says, "it's me or this stuff". And the lamps, well, some of them might have been comfortably left back in 1968.

If you plan to stop in, just be sure to bring along some nostalgia medication. This place is pretty overwhelming.



Pablo / August 28, 2008 at 03:17 pm
Dear friend, here Pablo from Barcelona, Master Thesis researcher in Graphic Desing and Advertising about old Pioner automotive, Gas & Oil and Tire companies. I have a capitle about Far West characters in advertising, like native indians or cowboys. I want to include few pages about Red Indian Gasoline, and I want to contact with you about the Red Indian Shop in Toronto. I will wait your nice news, you can write me at Thanks for your overseas help.
robin / January 26, 2009 at 08:38 pm
Hi will you still be open in late May when Deco lovers from all around the world visit Toronto en route to Montreal for the next World Congress on Art Deco. Hope so! regards from Australia
Mari replying to a comment from robin / February 13, 2009 at 10:51 pm
Could it be true, this long time treasure is leaving Toronto! Last day open to the public is May 03, 2009. Ahh, but there is good news after the sad fact! I was relieved to hear Brad is re-locating to beautiful Sauble Beach. He showed me the photos of the Old Zion Methodist Church he bought just at the edge of this beach resort town located on Lake Huron, just 2 hours from Toronto. Brad has been actively stocking up new pieces over the last year along with some of his own personal collection for his Grand Opening Day on Wed. July 01st, 2009 Canada Day. It wil be Mind Blowing, the Best he's ever had to offer. With 2 full floors full of antiques along with a huge parking lot which will host other Antique Dealers and collectors for his Grand Opening Day. He has some maps with directions and more info at the shop to give out, while they last. Won't be called the Red Indian anymore. He says there are some native reserves in the area, so not appropriate since most people would not understand it's meaning. Fact is, Brad's antique shop is named after the Red Indian Motor Oil Company from the 1930's It once had Gas Stations across the country, called Red Indian. A true Historical Canadian Icon. In the 1960s was absorbed by McColl-Frontenac Oil Company. Today its Petro-Canada. Brad's new shop will be called Sauble Beach Antiques. I Googled Sauble Beach Ontario. Look forward to going there. So Robin, make a little trip to Sauble Beach and check out Brads new shop this summer if you can visit around that time.
Reggie / August 11, 2009 at 02:03 am
Give please. The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.
I am from Guinea and also now teach English, give please true I wrote the following sentence: "Here at gadgets we publish seven news every day! Don miss our news again! Subscribe now in your feed reader."

Thanks 8). Reggie.
Bailey / September 1, 2009 at 03:10 am
that doesn't even make any sense!.
I am from Slovakia and know bad English, give please true I wrote the following sentence: "a melanin in children served that hair may have a human male on tzaraath neoplasia."

Regards :-) Bailey.
donald ziraldo / October 6, 2009 at 10:01 pm
Do you have 4 Art Deco hanging lights....I need them for my barn

Hope you are well in your new location

Donald Ziraldo
Linda / November 2, 2010 at 08:58 am
Looking to treasure hunt your marvelous sorry you are not in TO...I'm north of the city...but would still love to come and check out your store...Are you open this time of the year or do you have certain days and time...pls let me know...Linda
Rob / July 24, 2011 at 10:44 am
Hi! I was at the shop in Sauble Saturday July 23 and bought a beautiful old Rediflex camera. It will be a nice little restorative project for me, and will eventually look great alongside my other vintage cameras. I'm always on the hunt for old film cameras, so if you happen to get some in, let me know and I'll drop in and see you. Your shop is wonderful; filled with so much memory. Thanks again !! Rob Walton, Guelph, Ontario.
linda Book / January 3, 2012 at 11:44 am
Do you still wish to pick up the 4th lounge chair? You already have 3.

Phil Morris / January 14, 2012 at 04:59 am
Remember a time when the Red Indian and The Empire Diner in early 1980's were the place to shop and eat in Toronto. The empire had a couch & chairs with tripple tubular chrome legs that I wanted so bad. A few years later I was somewhere in a store and the dealer told me someone was making them in Toronto area. Do you know where some of those chairs may be. I found them totally intoxicating !! Would love to own something like that. Would love to see pictures of them and I did not take any.
kathy / January 17, 2012 at 04:32 pm

I posted a set of chairs you might be interested in on kijiji... thought this was easier than calling.
William / March 14, 2012 at 04:23 pm
To Phil. Follow this link to my photoset on flickr where you will see those Empire Diner chairs. You have a great memory!
William / March 14, 2012 at 04:24 pm
Sorry, the above link is not working. Go to flickr and search for "Empire Diner" "Toronto" to find it.

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