A Brief History

Rabbittown Press occupies a building that is now 100 years old. In that time it has evolved.

The building began as a small carriage barn-stable at about the time such things were disappearing with the advent of the automobile. The original studs, now behind boards, are well chewed in what must have been the stable area, and there was a small window for cleaning out the old bedding and manure.

From the beginning, there was a second floor–an upstairs with an end door for loading in straw of hay or both. Inside access to this upstairs was by way of a hole midway along the back wall (about three feet square) with boards nailed across the studs to form a ladder to lead up to it.

With its plank floor laid across rough stringers supported on piles of flat rocks, the building soon found a new use, serving as a double garage. As time went by and cars became longer, the front of the building had to be extended by about two feet. The upstairs became a place to store possibly useful odds and ends of wood, metal, rope, pulleys, and other assorted objects–none of which every provide much use.

 

This takes us to just after World War II when my grandmother (many years a widow) moved into town from what could only loosely be called a farm. She bought the house and, with it, the garage and kept roomers and borders to eke out a living.

After wrapping things up on the farm, my father moved into town and lived in the house to work at one of the three shoe factories in the immediate area. These shoe factories along with the Chestnut Canoe Factory formed much of the industrial section of the city, and the area around them with the railroad tracks running through it had become known as ‘Rabbit Town’. One story has it that it being on the then edge of the expanding town, people snared rabbits for food. There is another story suggesting that this warren of factory workers and labourers bred like rabbits. Take your pick.

Jumping ahead a few years and skipping such details as my parents getting married and living on the third floor of the house and yours truly being born and spending the first two years of my life there, and later returning to live in the house after my grandmother’s death, we come eventually to about thirty years later when my parents have both gone the way of things and my better half and I inherit the house and decide to live there-here. With that, I also decide to renovate the garage as studio and print shop, registering the name ‘Rabbittown Press’.

With that decision, the building had to be lifted, concrete poured and the building put down on sills. The floor was insulated and planked, the walls insulated and finished, stairs built and the upstairs finished. I enlisted the experienced help of my friend Michiel Oudemans for much of this as well as the occasional help of my two young lads, Nevin and Tristan. The building was kept pretty much the same, but with only one set of double doors. Add new windows, electric heat and better lighting and ‘voila’!–the building as it is.