Hidden treasures of the Curiosity Shop

Kelly Bickner, the owner of the Curiosity Shop in Keremeos, pictured in her store. The shop is full of countless hidden treasures. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
The ironwood chairs and mahogany table from China found at the Curiosity Shop. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
A settee of ironwood and soapstone made in China at the Curiosity Shop. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)

Ever think about all of those items your grandparents have gathered over the years sitting up in the attic, and how strange some of them are?

The Curiosity Shop on Main Street Keremeos has them beat.

For 45 years, owners Kelly and Randy Bickner have collected a wide variety of special items.

A few of those items have long stories attached to them, such as the trophy from Port Alberni that had found its way to the shop back in 2014 before it was returned to the island.

In a look at some of those interesting pieces gathered over the years, the Review is going to start with a set of furniture all the way from Hong Kong and China.

They are one of the more recent collections to come into the shop.

“They came from a lady who was a missionary in China,” Kelly said as she showed the pieces.

“We knew her for years, and we bought a lot from her, always oriental stuff. Her husband did something like 38 missions across enemy lines, and he passed away in his 90s.”

The original owner moved to be with her son in Toronto and sold the set to the Bickners before she left.

After travelling hundreds of kilometres and across an ocean, the side table, two chairs and settee now reside in the Curiosity Shop.

The seats of the chairs are made from bird’s-eye maple, with the arms, legs and back made from ironwood.

The chairs have a surprising heft.

The table is made from red mahogany.

“These are way over a hundred years old. It’s hard to put an exact time to them,” said Kelly.

“But they all have a story because they’re all hand-carved.”

All of the pieces are fitted together with brass fasteners, no nails or screws anywhere.

On each of the chairs, a different figure is carved. Both are depictions of Chinese sages, one with a fan, the other holding a horsetail whisk.

The table features a brass inlay of wild stallions.

The settee, also carved from ironwood and well over a 100 years old, has back pieces made from soapstone, and almost didn’t make it out of Hong Kong.

“As I said, they were missionaries, and they also looked after a wealthy Chinese family’s house,” said Kelly.

“They had their own suite, and they wanted their furniture.

“They were looking for a bench to go at their front door, and as they were leaving this huge store with all these beautiful antique things, she looked up and there it was, hanging up on two big rafters.

“It took all day to get it down.”

The pieces, along with countless other antiques and interesting items from around the world, can be found at the Curiosity Shop.

Next time, a look at a set of glove and collar boxes from the 1830s.

To report a typo, email: editor@keremeosreview.com.


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