Make it a family affair – 3 stories in 3 storeys
Young antiques hunters, Clay Benson and Carol Gibson opened their first antiques store in Newcastle in 1968, and decided to marry when they could afford a home.
In 1971 they spotted a property in Port Hope and took the plunge, establishing a home-based business as collectors and sellers of Canadian antiques.
In 1980, Port Hope’s Ganaraska River swelled to record levels with flooding that damaged buildings along the banks including a key cornerstone on the west bank at Walton Street.
“I realized that whether the building would stay or go is ultimately one person’s decision,” recalls Clay.
The historic site needed a champion and the Benson’s stepped up, determined to save the 3 storey site from a wrecking ball.
The Benson’s restored the building and opened Smith's Creek Antiques on the main floor biding their time until use for the upper floors would present itself.
Fast forward to 2001, when daughter Christine returned from studies at the Ontario College of Art with a business plan to open Journey Through the Arts – a summer arts program for kids.
Her hand printed brochures and posters brought 65 participants for her first year. The Summer Program was (and still is) held at Molson's Mill up the street but the 2nd floor of Smith's Creek Antiques would become her art studio and a gallery for local artists.
Sure as the law of gravity, entrepreneurs attract entrepreneurs. By 2003 Christine’s long-time love and musician Mike Woods would join the family supporting the arts programming and offering music lessons at his Rock and Roll Experience on the third floor.
It is now a cozy family affair with sister Caitlin working in the antiques store and baby Ella keeping her options open.