Spring is just around the corner, meaning flurries and freezing weather here in Toronto. We’re ready to ditch our bulky coats and boots at The Eglinton Way BIA, but until the spring weather truly arrives we can take solace in experts like Peter Cook, owner of The Fireplace Shop Ltd., who knows all about keeping any space toasty warm. This month, Peter welcomed Sheliza Esmail from the Eglinton Way BIA into his local shop for a glimpse into the world of fireplace retail.
The Eglinton Way: What’s the story behind The Fireplace Shop?
Peter: My mother, Iris Cook, founded The Fireplace Shop Ltd. in 1962. It was Toronto’s first fireplace shop, originally located in Yorkville. We moved to our current location by the 1970s. Over the past 50+ years of service we have provided professional work on hearths and homes. We hold to the same high standards you could expect from any boutique along The Eglinton Way.
The Eglinton Way: Do you have a favourite piece in the store?
Peter: While there are a number of mantels we have collected over the years, my current favourite would be the Deeva. The Deeva is our wood-burning cook stove, which we use more than any unit. Whether for tea or cooking some fresh veggies, we have it going at various times here in the store. The entire kitchenette was completed just this past fall and continues to be our latest renovation.
The Eglinton Way: How would you describe a typical day at The Fireplace Shop?
Peter: From the moment we open our doors on Tuesday until locking up on Saturday, we are all constantly balancing various tasks. Whether it’s serving customers, talking to suppliers, designing custom solutions, or engaging in open discussion with my cheerful colleagues, we all keep busy. That’s not to say we are all serious all the time. The newest addition to our staff is our seven-month old standard red poodle. She makes sure we still have fun throughout the day.
The Eglinton Way: Does your store provide any specialized services?
Peter: Most services we offer are specialized, not only because each fireplace is unique, but because we accommodate all the unique design aesthetics of our clients. We have standard options for things such as mantels, tools, and some units, and can design around any needs. Our designer, Yakov, is up to any design challenge and is willing and able to work within most limitations. Above all, we happily offer a diverse and exclusive selection of fireplaces. We are the only hearth retailer in all of Canada to provide Planika biofuel units. Planika is a premium electronic ethanol fireplace manufacturer with the widest variety of clean burning units on the market.
The Eglinton Way: Are there any interesting stories behind the unique pieces in your store?
Peter: Many of our mantels have interesting stories and histories. We also have several antique fireplace accessories with rich histories. One standout is a Louis XIV style mantel. This hand carved Belgian marble fireplace mantel comes from Europe (c. 1860) and is currently on display on our second floor showroom. The mantel has stood through the past fifteen decades, but now we’re looking for the perfect new place for it to sit for the decades to come.
The Eglinton Way: What are your future plans or goals for The Fireplace Shop?
Peter: Moving forward, we will aim for the same standard of excellence we have offered for the past fifty-five years in all facets of our company. We are especially focused on keeping ahead of the curve when it comes to innovations in the market.
The Eglinton Way: What’s the difference between a gas fireplace and a wood-burning fireplace?
Peter: Around the GTA, many original local masonry units were designed for either wood or coal. These units are relatively straight forward, needing only a few things such as tools, grates or glass doors for smooth operation.
Today, for convenience, we add gas logs or inserts to supply heat. Gas logs can sit in an existing masonry unit as long as the chimney is lined. Inserts can be vented a few different ways, and gas comes with a large selection of media as well. There are also wood burning inserts, which provide similar efficiency to many of the airtight wood stoves available today. We could be here all day talking about the different options. The short answer is that the convenience and variety of gas units make them the most popular, whereas the ambiance of a wood unit will always provide that authentic traditional feel.
The Eglinton Way: What is your favourite part about the business?
Peter: Right now we are renovating our retail location with a new industrial motif, including a new storefront. It’s a great joy to see our retail location evolve and grow from week to week with each new and exciting project. With so much growth and change, it’s always worth stopping by to take a look.