Former ambassador's auction offers unique glimpse at Canada's past
Derek Burney is auctioning off more than 300 family items in Ottawa
A former ambassador to the U.S. who served as Brian Mulroney's chief of staff is auctioning off part of his family's massive collection of Canadian historical pieces in Ottawa this Saturday.
The items being sold by Derek Burney cover a broad swath of Canadian history and geography, from pre-conquest New France to the decades following Confederation.
"It's a real cross-section of fantastic quality rare items, museum-quality pieces that the public — generally speaking — doesn't get the opportunity to own or be the custodian of," said Robin Pridham, owner of Pridham's Auction House.
Pridham said there are also items of interest for enthusiasts of Ottawa's history.
"There's some political items, carvings, there's voyageur-type items here, there's Native Canadian-type items that come from the region here."
Peter Baker, an antiques dealer who's been working with the Burney family for 40 years, said the objects demonstrate human ingenuity and creativity over centuries.
He explained some of the pieces during the preview show Friday afternoon.
Ottawa River paddle
Baker said this painted paddle, intended for surveyor J.B. Charleson, is an example of folk art — a piece created by artists with no formal training.
"He was surveying the timber tracts in the Ottawa River valley system, and that paddle documents this trip. Both sides of it have all the lakes, rivers and everything identified," Baker said.
"It would've been quite a canoe trip."
Quebec church chandelier
This chandelier dates to the late 18th or early 19th century, Baker said.
"There probably were 12 of them in the church," Baker said.
"It's a spectacular three-tier chandelier in original paint, with the original arms. It's museum-quality that you rarely, rarely ever see offered for sale on the public market."
Louis XV armoire
Baker described this Louis XV armoire as a rare large piece of French-Canadian carpentry.
It's made without nails, he said, and includes details like florets and a removable cornice on top.
Saturday's auction gets underway at 10 a.m. at Tudor Hall in south Ottawa.