Interiors and Exteriors
Art and Design
Objects and Antiquities

Sunday, June 10


Many years ago, we purchased a house that had been owned by the same family since 1900.  The elderly couple was moving to a smaller home and wanted to leave their piano behind.  When we looked at it we could see why: the behemoth was so hefty it had crushed its original steel casters and sunk into the pine floor.  The owners knew nothing about the history of the piano, however, the collection of tuner’s initials and dates of repairs written on the inside showed how important it had been to their musical family. We fell in love with it and agreed to take it with the house.

Evans Bros.  Piano Manufacturing Company operated in Ingersoll Ontario from 1887 to the early 1930’s.  Apparently they were not known for building great pianos. Our tuner told us that he "has never met one that could hold a tuning".  But this one is different.  It has a wonderful rich voice and stays in tune very well. By chance we watched a segment on TVO featuring the history of piano manufacturing in Ontario; as a representative from Robert Lowrey’s Piano Experts (Toronto) was speaking we spotted a twin to our piano  in the background.  We contacted Mr Lowrey and shared our amazement that we both possessed what we thought was a one-of- a- kind instrument.  He guided us to Downright Upright written by Wayne Kelly (the only reference he's been able to find).  In the section on Evans Bros. there is a hint of the piano’s history. 

An extremely elaborate, solid mahogany Evan’s Bros. Piano of limited edition was manufactured toward the close of the first decade of the new century, receiving honours at the 1910 Chicago World’s Fair. ( A partial photograph- not suitable for reproduction here- details highly elaborate case carvings and heavy ornamentation on a mahogany mammoth that must have pushed its weight well over 1,000 pounds.

That certainly sounds like our piano, but the article only raises more questions.  When was it made? Did it travel to a World's Fair? The 1910 World’s Fair was held in Brussels, Belgium.  The only Chicago World’s Fair that Evans could have attended was in 1893.  Why such an ornate case? How did it find its way to a front parlour of a remote farmers home?   If only it could speak besides in the language of music.

Text by Chris Scrivener

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