Cairns Corners Schoolhouseview our slideshow here.


Leishman Is A Mug

SINCE 1975

How do you sum up 47 years as Leishman Pottery? Or 45 years in the same house? How do you highlight 45 years as contributing members of the community? How do you explain working 7 days a week, on site, for 45 years?

How do you describe the childhood of 3 girls born to hippy parents with a dream of living and working in a schoolhouse? How do you communicate the joy of family reunions, weddings, large dinners, celebratory events, art tours, grandchildren, customers that became friends, neighbours that became family?

How do you create a retirement announcement from all of the above? The following is my attempt.

After marrying in the fall of 1971, my folks travelled by motorcycle down the east coast to Florida and back. They continued west across Canada by train, and then down to California by thumb.
In 1975, they moved to Cobalt, Ontario. An ad in the Globe and Mail from the Town of Cobalt’s Industrial Commissioner John Hunt read, “come to Cobalt where everyone seems to make a living.” Cobalt Pottery was established, and for nearly 4 years, Mom & Dad enjoyed the life of northern Ontario and all it had to offer.

Cobalt and the near north were an inspiration to last a lifetime. Ana and I were both born in Haileybury. Katy came along in a snow storm early 1979, just after my folks had moved. Their new address was R.R. #1 Stayner, ON.

‘Cains Corners’ was also posted in the Globe and Mail. It stated, “school house plus 4 acres in Stayner, Ontario”. Take off a few zeros from today’s price and it was ‘hippy affordable’. My Dad recalls driving past the school house around the age of 15. “My old man had a secret way from Richmond Hill by way of Maple to Thornbury. Drive Hwy #10 to Angus and on. We used to call the area “dog patch”. It was meant to be.

They were asking for $5000 down and since my grandparents weren’t too keen on my folks living in the north, they had given them a cheque ahead of time. The Kelly’s took back the mortgage with the $5000 down. As young potters with a growing family there wasn’t much money to keep up the house. At the time, Sunnidale Township had a program designed to help those that earned under a certain amount. It was a low percentage loan. This helped improve the basement windows, install fluorescents in the basement,
upgrade the electrical to 200 amps and shingle the roof. Around the same time, my Dad went to see the clerk Ted Hannan and inquired whether he should be paying a business tax. Ted told him “they would get to that but we didn’t want to scare you away”.

Mom & Dads first meeting with the bank manager went fairly smoothly. Although Ana and I put the old CN International truck into gear and rolled it back into traffic. The bank employees never forgot those “rubby dub” potters.

The Cains Corners School House was a school for 55 years. It is a landmark that continues to be as valuable to the community now as it was back then. “It is our dream that the Cains Corners School House remains integral to the landscape”. This property has been a beacon of light in snowstorms, a landmark for those travelling North, a destination for tourists and a comforting stop for neighbours, friends and customers for 45 years.

My sisters and I recall the hours we spent on the property. No one ever had to kick us outside to go and play. Prior to the store being built in 1994, we had our very own ball diamond. The trees and pond were a haven for hours, well into the evenings. My folks would ring the school bell for dinner when we were at the back of the property or Katy was down the road at the McNivens. We skated on the pond, built snow forts in the massive drifts the trees provided, and turned my Dad’s handmade playset into a tree fort covered in pink and grey leftover paint. With three daughters in the house, and one bathroom at the time, my Dad had to build an outhouse for himself. No one
had any privacy in the house and the floor always gave away your location. We shared messages and fanciful drawings on the original chalkboard, and tossed items back and forth from the loft. We fought over sitting on the heating vent in the kitchen and watched Jim Harkness wood carvings sway when we danced to Frank Zappa or Sam & Dave.

As adults we appreciated the main room for family meals, parties and our massive 12ft Christmas tree. Being able to sit on the back porch, hours of talking, laughing, watching storms, listening to the wind, all while being protected by those trees. Ana and I both got married in the backyard. We’ve had countless family reunions, come and go culture days and the School’s 100 Year Anniversary. How lucky we’ve been to be able to watch our own children do the same things we did at their age, never telling them about our own adventures, but watching as theirs mirrored ours.

Raising a family as an artist, on a potter’s wage, took some doing, one pot at a time. My folks established Leishman Pottery in the retail and wholesale market, one sale at a time.

In the year 2000, I decided to become a potter and naturally my folks were disappointed, hoping rather for a career path involving a salary and maybe even a pension. But it was too late, I was committed. As we evolved, Leishman Pottery has become a Canadian icon with our line of pottery that symbolizes the feeling of Canada.

Leishman Pottery is known across the country and beyond. We have sold to countless art galleries, gift shops, fishing tackle shacks, hardware stores, and museums. We have made thousands of custom pieces, orders of one to one thousand, all by hand, from a lump of clay, each and every piece created with integrity and care. You probably have one of our pieces. Maybe you reach for it every morning or you serve your favourite dish in it. Perhaps you have a sculpture you proudly display in your home or garden. Maybe it was a piece passed onto you or your very first purchase when you left home. These are the reasons I ultimately decided not to carry on without my Dad and my Mom. To leave their legacy as is.

On behalf of my parents, I wish to thank our customers, near and far. Thank you for your support and appreciation of our work. We are forever grateful and hope you continue to use your pieces each and every day.

My sisters and I would like to thank our folks for successfully providing us with a life full of memories and love, instilling in us a deep sense of community and a wealth of meaningful relationships. We wish to Congratulate our folks on their retirement from Leishman Pottery.

Please join us by raising your Mug in honour of my parents and their
dedication to their craft.

Cheers and All the Best,
Ivy, Ana & Katy
Mike & Connie Leishman