History

Classic Art first opened in Stratford over 127 years ago in 1888 by Walter McMillan. It was originally named McMillan and Neff and located at 10 Ontario Street.

This interior Photograph from 1900 of McMillan and Neff clearly shows the Picture Framing sample wall.



Stratford Perth Arhives Photo

Over the years the name has been changed

McMillan and Neff 1888 - 1909
McMillan and Co 1909 - 1965
The Classic Art Shop 1965 - 1968
Classic Art 1968 - 2015
Classic Art Of Stratford 2016 - Present

Owners throughout the years

Walter McMillan & A.O.Neff (?) 1888 - 1909
Walter McMillan 1909 - 1921
Harry McMillan 1922 - 1965
Mrs. C.L. (Verna) Searcy 1965 - 196?
Mr Johnson 196? - 1968
Lee J. Littel 1968 - 1993
Robert B. Littel 1993 - 2016
Neil Devine 2016 - Present

Locations (all in Stratford)

10 Ontario Street 1888 - 1922
16 Ontario Street 1922 - 1953
26 Erie Street 1953 - 1985
85 Downie Street 1985 - 1995
53 Downie Street 1995 - 2008
1060 Ontario Street 2008 - Present

Over the years the business has tried it’s hand at many things. Initially the store also sold paint, wallpaper and room mouldings. The interior photograph from 1900 obviously shows a piano for sale. At one time flowers were also sold. In addition the list includes artist supplies, an art gallery and decorative glass. Through it all, Picture Framing has always been there.

Although it is hard to say how many pictures have been framed at the store since its beginning, an estimate of "Hundreds of Thousands" wouldn't be far off. Shortly before his retirement in 1965 Harry McMillan was quoted as saying he had been shaping up to 1,400 frames annually. The addition of a computerized point of sale has made recent tallies more accurate and Classic Art has produced well over 40,000 picture frames in the last 15 years alone.

Having been around for so long, the owners of the business have learned to adapt with the times and have a unique advantage over almost any competitor. Current owner Bob Littel will tell you "When you learn a trade using time tested techniques of craftsmanship, and combine that knowledge with modern technology, you have an invaluable combination. It shows in our finished, award winning work. Attention to detail is paramount."

What was happening in 1888?
Feb 22nd - John Reid of Scotland demonstrates golf to Americans (Yonkers NY)
Nov 17th - Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony premieres in St Petersburg
Dec 23rd - Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh cuts off his left ear with a razor, and sends it to a prostitute for safe keeping

For more than 127 years, economic recessions and depressions have come and gone and only the very best survive the true test of time. Classic Art is one of these businesses.