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Elgin’s Peter Baker publishes new book in time for Canada’s 150th

Celebrating Canada: Decorating with History in a Contemporary Home


Publié le 12 juin 2017

Antiques dealer and author Peter Baker with photographer Marc Bider in Elgin. The two collaborated to produce the freshly published book entitled Celebrating Canada: Decorating with History in a Contemporary Home.

©(Photo provided by Marc Bider)

"Antiques are like people -- the deeper you look the more interesting they become," says Elgin resident Peter Baker, whose new book Celebrating Canada: Decorating with History in a Contemporary Home, which was written in the context of Canada’s 150th anniversary, is now available in bookstores and online.

A familiar name to fans of the Canadian Antiques Roadshow, where Baker was a featured Canadiana appraiser, he has long been a champion of decorating with objects that tell a story. It is his passionate approach to antiques, which spurred a 40-plus-year career as an antiques dealer, and a love for story and history embedded in collectibles that elevates his work to a highly readable case for incorporating antiques into a contemporary home.

The text, detailing the extensive collection of avid collectors Joan and Derek Burney, is beautifully illustrated with over 300 colour photographs of their home taken by Elgin-based photographer Marc Bider. In this sense, the book is organized as a virtual house tour, with stories to highlight the significance and historical context behind each piece as it is encountered. It is in this sense a truly Canadian journey through a collection spanning three centuries of our history.

According to a brief note in the book written by the Burneys, the couple were happy to collaborate on this project to help celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, and as collectors for over four decades, to hopefully inspire the collecting of Canadiana by a new generation of Canadians.

Baker certainly shares in this desire to catalyze a renewed interest in antiques. He was first attracted to the field of antiques by the quality of construction and design. “Whether it is an early piece of furniture or a 19th century cast iron farm implement, you find objects that are not only functional but also illustrate the pride of the maker in their design and decoration.”

Such traits, he suggests, are simply not found in today’s mass produced products bought from big box stores that are lacking in any identity with a very brief story to tell. Therein also lies the irony he laments, as beginners looking to start their collections can often find objects that are more affordable than shopping for new. “The first step is exposure, whether through a friend's collection or by visiting shows where a variety of types of antiques will be on display.  Talk to dealers and collectors and find out why a particular piece is worth that much. Then buy what you like and the best you can afford,” he says.

Written to be published in time for the 150th anniversary celebrations this summer, as well as Montreal’s 375th anniversary, Celebrating Canada: Decorating with History in a Contemporary Home is now available online in both English and French and in select bookstores (Chapters in Montreal) in hardcover and digital version.