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Our Cabinet of Curiosities: Rec Rooms

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Image from Canadian Forest Products Ltd catalogue

The Marine Room

from Six Master-Designed Recreation Rooms

Published by Canadian Forest Products, Ltd. 1961

One of the best things about working in the Local History collection is the thrill of discovering some of the weird and wacky items we have. Every day brings a new discovery and I thought it might be interesting to share some of these finds with you. To that end, I am going to write a semi-regular feature for the next little while called the Cabinet of Curiosities.

We happened upon this little gem when we were looking for items to take to a Heritage Roundtable display that would feature heritage architecture. The definition of heritage is broad enough to embrace the mid-century period; but, I must admit, having grown up with mid-century modern, I’m not sure I want to preserve it – it’s mostly just a painful reminder of my awkward youth. This may be especially true of the so-called “recreation rooms” that many of our parents developed in the basements of our suburban bungalows. These “rec rooms” were often the scenes of boy-girl parties and other naughty behavior when mom and dad weren’t home. I had often wondered where on earth people had come up with the themes for these “rec rooms” and now I’ve found out. We found the catalogue Six Master-Designed Recreation Rooms from Canadian Forest Products (which explains the surfeit of wood paneling) from 1961. In addition to the photographs and artists illustrations of the various themes it also includes templates for the brands and barrel ends (A quote: “In days gone by, an Old World inn-keeper was accustomed to take his stance before an array of spigoted barrels from which he dispensed in pewter tankards the specialty of his hospitable taproom. The spirit of this pleasant custom is recaptured in the décor of the Tavern. Chapter Nine contains instructions for making the realistic barrel-ends…)

image from Canadian Forest Products catalogue

The Tavern

In addition to the Tavern theme, the catalogue includes a Western Room, complete with brands and lariats (see below) the Polynesian Room (perfect for the Polynesian luau recipes I found in my mom’s 1960s cookbook - Flaming Cabbage Head Weenies with Pu-Pu sauce anyone?) and The Marine Room (above), with knotty pine paneling. Neat-o!

Canadian Forest Products catalogue

The Polynesian Room

Instructions for building the furniture, hiding the hot water tank, laying the floor tiles and a selection of finishes are all included, making this the perfect book for those wanting to capture those magic moments of their childhood. (You can find it in the local history room, call number 643.55 SIX)

Canadian Forest Products catalogue

The Western Room ("as Western as the Calgary Stampede")


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