Classic Cars

For a great price, you too could sit on “a piece of Canadian history”

For a great price, you too could sit on "a piece of Canadian history"

Robin Seguin owns the Victoria Barber Shop in Ottawa at 9 O’Connor Street, just steps from Parliament Hill. She recently put this “famous” barber chair up for sale online. “It certainly got a lot of interesting comments on Facebook,” she said. (Alistair Steele/CBC)

It’s rocked the posteriors of prime ministers, Supreme Court justices and hockey legends as they sat for a short back and sides, and now it could be yours.

Ottawa’s Victoria Barber Shop, where they have quietly cut the hair and shaved the stubble of some of the capital’s most notable citizens for nearly 100 years, is selling one of its antique chairs.

I mean, a lot of famous people have sat there.– Robin Seguin, owner of the Victoria Barber Shop

With its cracked leather and corroded footrest, $1,000 might seem a little steep for this particular item. But according to shop owner Robin Seguin, this is no ordinary barber chair.

“A lot of people say, ‘Ugh, it’s just a chair.’ No, it’s not just a chair. It’s more or less a piece of Canadian history. I mean, a lot of famous people have sat in it,” Seguin told CBC.

“It’s like a classic car because it has this chrome and ceramic and leather. It has a nice solid feel,” Seguin said of the chair. She asks $1,000 and says she is also ready to sell the other two chairs in her shop. (Alistair Steele/CBC)

To prove his point, Seguin attached a sign to the back of the “famous chair” listing some of the local celebrities who have occupied it: former senator and Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Frank Mahovlich, MP and former astronaut Marc Garneau, former Prime Minister Paul Martin and Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown, to name a few.

“You never know when they come in who they might be,” Seguin said, recalling another Supreme Court justice who walked around in shorts and flip-flops. She only discovered his identity later.

Among the portraits hanging on the wall of Ottawa’s Victoria Barber Shop is that of former senator and hockey player Frank Mahovlich, seated in one of the store’s quirky chairs. (Alistair Steele/CBC)

The Victoria Barber Shop is tucked away half a flight of stairs near the corner of O’Connor and Wellington streets, where it opened in 1924 to serve the military. Due to its prime location and unpretentious atmosphere, the shop has become a favorite destination for Ottawa’s political scene looking for an honest haircut and a half hour of peace.

“We keep it old school. There’s no loud music. It’s not a party vibe,” said Seguin, who came on board about four and a half years ago and became the sole owner of the shop last year. “There’s no gossip. What you say here and what you see here, when you leave here, you let it stay here.”

Seguin shaves a client’s neck with a straight razor. She said her customers appreciate the boutique’s quiet vibe and old-fashioned service. (Alistair Steele/CBC)

That’s not to say her customers, including some of this brand’s illustrious names, don’t confide in her. It simply means that what happens in the chair stays in the chair.

“It’s an intimate setting. You’re one-on-one with your barber, and most men know they only need three things in their life: a good wife, a good barber, and a good bartender,” joked Seguin. “I know things about these people’s lives.”

His customers are fiercely loyal. One has been coming to the store for 67 years, Seguin said.

“I’ve been sitting in these chairs for 50 years,” added another customer as CBC toured the store on Wednesday.

The shop’s three chairs, purchased by a previous owner in 1956, were manufactured by Theo A. Kochs Company in Chicago. (Alistair Steele/CBC)

When she heard that the owner of the building, Public Services and Procurement Canada, was preparing to redo the floor of the workshop, Seguin decided that it would be a good opportunity to unload at least one of her three chairs, which date back to 1956, when a previous owner purchased them from the Theo A. Kochs Company of Chicago.

Seguin said the 66-year-old chairs, which rotate, tilt and of course can be raised and lowered hydraulically, have been well maintained and remain in perfect mechanical condition. But with only two barbers in the shop at any given time, there’s no longer a need for a third chair.

“It’s been a few years since a third chair was used here,” she said. “It’s getting to the point where OK, we either recover it or sell it.”

Among the photos of famous Canadians getting their hair cut at the Victoria Barber Shop, Seguin added a reminder of the recent truck protest that brought the city’s downtown to a standstill. Seguin said his shop stayed open throughout the day and loyal customers still popped in for a cut. (Alistair Steele/CBC)

Seguin recently put the chair up for sale on Facebook Marketplace and said she’s had a few bites already. She said some people have urged her to put it up for auction, where she could potentially get a lot more money, especially given its unique history.

“Other people try to put me down, offering me $300, and of course I laugh,” she said.

If there’s interest in her other two chairs, which were purchased at the same time, Seguin said she’s willing to sell them too, as long as the buyer can wait until she sources replacements from a manufacturer in Toronto. She said the new barber chairs also cost around $1,000 each.

“I’m not looking to make money, I’m just looking to break even,” Seguin explained. “It would be nice to have something a little more updated in the shop, but we want to stick with the old-fashioned vibe.”

First opened here on O’Connor Street in 1924, the Victoria Barber Shop is approaching its centenary. (Alistair Steele/CBC)

As for where the “famous chair” ends up, Seguin just hopes that its place in local lore will somehow get the recognition it deserves, even if it doesn’t end up in another living room. hairstyle.

“I’m totally disgusted to be in a rich man’s cave,” Seguin said.

The Victoria Barber Shop on O’Connor Street in Ottawa has changed very little in nearly 100 years. Seguin, right, said that’s how his clients seem to like him. (Alistair Steele/CBC)