OLDE HIDE HOUSE
Built in 1899, the Olde Hide House continues its’ commitment to Acton’s leather heritage. The now famous 30,000 sq ft brick-and-beam building houses Canada’s best selection of leather, suede and shearling fashions plus fine leather furniture attracting shoppers from all over the world.
Beardmore warehouse ( now the Olde Hide House ) and the Grand Trunk Railroad Station.
The Hide House – A truly unique shopping experience! Find an unrivaled selection of luxurious
leather, suede, wool, down and shearling fashions and accessories. Plus a large selection
of fine leather furniture in our restored brick-and-beam building.
“It’s Worth The Drive To Acton”
Acton’s leather heritage and the history of the Olde Hide House are forever woven together. Widely known as Canada’s largest leather store, the humble beginnings of the Hide House were as a shipping and receiving warehouse for Acton’s Beardmore & Co., the largest tannery in the British Empire at the turn of the century. However, Acton’s history, and in particular, its role and reputation as Canada’s Leathertown date back even further.
It all started back in 1829 when three brothers from New York State headed north looking to purchase some farmland. Rufus, Zenas and Ezra Adams, each acquired parcels of land from the Canada Company and by 1842, their combined holdings totaled approximately 500 acres. Within a short time a settlement began to emerge and the Adams brothers decided to survey their farms into town lots, open and name streets, and call the settlement Adamsville. However, in 1844 when a post office was established in the community, the name of the town was changed to Acton.
In 1899, Beardmore & Company also built a large brick warehouse, right next to the railway line. Even back then it was known as the “Hide House” because raw hides were brought in by rail and stored here to await transport by horse-drawn wagons to the tannery for processing. Finished leather was also stored in the building, while waiting to be transported by rail to other destinations. And so things remained until a spur line was built from the main rail line directly to the Beardmore plant. With the warehouse no longer required, it was sold in 1933. For the next several decades, the building housed various non-leather industries - including a factory which made uniforms and underwear for the military during the second world war.
It was not until 1969 that the hide house was back in the leather business. That year the property was sold to Frank Heller and Company, a firm specializing in the production of split leather. Then in June of 1980, Frank Heller and Company consolidated its three plants in the area into one larger building, rendering the hide house property surplus to its needs. Fred Dawkins, Ron Heller and Don Dawkins decided to transform the historic building into a flagship showcasing Acton’s leather-industry heritage and the concept for the olde Hide House was born.
Following several months of extensive restoration, The Olde Hide House officially opened on November 14th, 1980. More than a quarter century of further refinement, rejuvenation and growth have made the Acton landmark the largest and most popular leather store in Canada. Depending on the season, the Hide House stocks between 6,000 and 10,000 leather, suede and shearling garments - the largest collection of quality leather garments under one roof anywhere in the world - along with equally extensive selections of small leathergoods, accessories and gifts. The store’s exclusive ‘Lifetime Furniture Gallery’ features more than 30 complete room settings of top-grain leather furniture. In addition to great selection, most items are priced less - often much less - than comparable goods sold elsewhere!
The Hide House is also one of Ontario’s most popular tourism attractions: visitors from more than 40 countries signed the leather-bound guestbook in the store’s front foyer last year alone! Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, the restored 19th century setting of the olde Hide House serves to showcase the unique leather industry heritage of Acton - the last small town near Toronto. Come… see for yourself why they say – “It’s worth the drive to Acton” - Canada’s Leathertown.
Ownership of the various parcels, including the land where The olde Hide House now stands, changed hands several times over the ensuing years. But, in 1856, when the Grand Trunk Railway ran a line through the town and opened the Acton Train Station, things began to grow rapidly. That same year, an ambitious businessman, George L. Beardmore came to Acton and purchased a small tannery which had been operating in the area since 1844.
The buildings for the new Beardmore & Co. Tannery replaced the smaller and outdated plant of the earlier enterprise and were equipped with the most modern tannery machinery of the time. Soon the leather business became the major industry in Acton. Eventually, the main Beardmore tanneries in Acton had a combined floor space of nearly a million square feet, becoming - as noted above - the largest tanning operation in the British Empire by the turn of the century.
ALFRED O. BEARDMOR
Canada's Largest Leather Store
Canada’s largest leather store, the Olde Hide House, is well-known as the go-to place for lovers of quality buttery leather jackets. The wide selection of materials, styles, and sizes in outerwear for men and women make Acton a must-stop destination (particularly as the weather cools and Christmas looms around the corner). However, there’s a lot more to this House. The furniture showroom displays an elegant collection of home accents and nearly every type of furniture or décor you need in leather you’ll be hard-pressed to leave this place empty handed.
As you enter through the heavy wood doors of this century warehouse turned retail mecca, your first stop is the Lifetime Furniture Gallery. Although Acton is not known as a home décor hotspot, the trendy yet timeless style found here would rival any big city store. And while you wouldn’t come for
a bargain, the prices are all reasonable.
The brands featured here include Good Earth, with furniture made from salvaged wood, and Bradington-Young line from Hooker Furniture and Our House Designs – both well-known American manufacturers of leather chairs and couches. Beyond the expected pieces of large leather furniture, there are also well-priced table lights, rustic wood sideboards, and a large selection of cow hides. You’ll have to tear yourself away from the décor to return to the real draw, 10,000 leather, suede, and shearling garments. And this is certainly a draw: visitors from over 40 countries have signed the guest book in the foyer during the past year alone.
The store is divided into men’s and women’s sections, with both stocked with leather pants, outerwear, vests, and hats. Ladies leather pants come in red, tan, brown, and black. Light-weight fall and spring jackets, fur-lined hooded winter coats, and stylish, long shearling coats are all found beneath the Olde Hide House’s wooden rafters. Quality lambskin and leather gloves and trendy, yet practical hats with fur ear flaps complete your outfit. If you enjoy motorcycling, there are leather jackets, chaps, and gloves designed just for you. There’s a shoe section with moccasins and leather slippers that can be worn indoors or out. A leather bag section has handcrafted briefcases, purses, and knapsacks.
The store is well staffed with friendly sales people who don’t hover, but are easy to find when you want to try something on or ask a question.
There are sales throughout the year, particularly just prior to bringing out a new season’s fashions.
Alfred O. Beardmor
(1859 -1946 ). He was President of the Muscoka Leather and Acton Tanneries. Colonel Beardmore retired upon the sale of operations
to Canada Packers in 1944