Anything But Primitive

Long before I was even aware of the internet, I spent my time at bars. For a long time, the bar that I spent the majority of my evenings was called Southbound. I wish I had pictures of it, because it was phenomenal. The decor was from another world, and the owners were too. I believe they were from Bohemia. I was home.

Rhonda was the bar manager, and she was half hippie love child, half barroom brawler, and all awesome. Ron was the free-spirit behind the decor, and a veritable wealth of knowledge if you wanted to know anything about world travel. That guy had been everywhere, or so I thought. They had the best wings that I’ve ever had, and an amazing staff that changed quite a bit, but kept a steady level of awesome throughout.

They also used to travel every year to Southeast Asia for a couple of months and load up a container full of carvings and other oddities that they would find over there. That would get shipped to their place in Grafton ON, and from there, they would truck a load to the market on the Toronto waterfront every weekend. People would go crazy for the stuff they had. It was all very unique, and when you’re in a city of millions, unique is pretty hard to come by.

Fast forward 13 years.

The bar is long gone; replaced by a myriad of almosts and not-quites, but Ron and Rhonda are still around. They  have gotten out of the food and booze peddling business, and more heavily into the decor business that made their bar so unique and interesting. They are now selling their brand of fantastic at their store, Primitive Designs on Hwy 28, just north of Port Hope ON. Check out their Facebook page to keep yourself up to date on what’s new and in stock.

I went out to see them last weekend, and to take some photos, and they were a couple of men down, so I got to hang out with their eleven year old son, Max. Great, an eleven year old, right? I was absolutely shocked at how evenly rounded this kid was. I had met him a few times before, but the last time was when he was nine, for maybe ten minutes. Before that, he was maybe four or five., so kind of hard to know what he’s going to be like. He was exceptionally polite, well versed, and calm, while he was walking me through every aspect of the business, from the scouting trip, to unloading the containers and putting the products on the shelves. He is involved in all facets of the business, and has designed several of the pieces that they have there. The one he’s most proud of, is a seven metre tall transformer inspired robot sculpture.

Photo and article by Pete Fisher at Northumberland Today

Now I didn’t go there to write about the robot, because Pete has already done a good job of that. Click the image or this link to check it out.

I went there because I want to start showcasing all of the cool businesses that we have in our area. Businesses like Primitive Designs, End of the Thread, and Cree Organics (we’re doing that next). The rest of this post will be mostly pictures, and I’d like to put them all in, but there was just too much there. I’ll put the the ones I liked best in, and if that’s not enough to pique your curiosity, then nothing is.

Full sized, moving parts, you can get them custom painted, and way cheaper on fuel and insurance.

Maybe not the original hat

The never rotting core.

I think he’s a skin diver.

Way cheaper than the Pope’s and probably more comfortable

In case you want to get all Matthew McConaughey some night

This is made from reclaimed ship wood.

Max designed these too.

Hard core action figures

The carved box that Max got for his mom’s Xmas present. Ron made him buy three, so he could sell the other two to pay for the gift. Always thinking, that guy.

Just beautifully inlaid with seashell carvings.

There’s a full section of clothing and jewellery, but I’m a dude, so this is all you see.

If you’re ever thinking of starting an olive oil company, these are for you.

I love this bench for some reason

If you’re missing the islands, you can bring them home with you.

The winged (Trojan?)horse

Put that on your deck, but not too close to the BBQ

All hand carved skull. How badass is that, Don Henley?

In case they won’t sell you the big one.

Well there you have it, some of the neatest handmade products you will ever find. One of the things that makes this so cool for me is the fact that all of these have a story. These guys personally know each and every one of the people that they buy from. They know the carvers, the welders, and their families. They make sure that everyone is paid a fair wage, and everybody makes a profit. No slave or child labour, and no shady deals, makes this the kind of world trade that I can get behind.

Hai nyang bulee jagad, hai nyang bulee jagad, Aulia,


13 thoughts on “Anything But Primitive

  1. What an incredible shop. These pictures are mesmerizing and I know I could get lost for hours just browsing through this store. And the best part, the way they do business. It’s nice to hear of people doing an upstanding job out there to stimulate the economy. Hopefully, consumers will stimulate them back! Happy Monday!

      • Yeah, no kidding. Of course, that was a long, long time ago. He was born there in 1928.

        The last time I was there was in… 1991 I think? I don’t remember a whole lot because the day before my brother (who was attending McGill) and I hit three Montreal bars where drinks were free once you paid the cover. We got our money’s worth at each place and then some.

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