The Saffron family immigrated to Canada from Lodz in 1905 – long before the horrors of World War II and the Nazi invasion of Poland – and made their home in the coalmining town of Springhill.
At times, the Saffrons were perhaps the community’s only Jewish family, and of the three children Arthur ‘Artie’ Saffron was the youngest. As an adult he continued to run the family furniture business that carried his father’s name, Morris Saffron Co. He was slender and upright; quiet but his eyes were always playful, and he had a smile that seemed to permanently reside at corner of his mouth when he talked to others.
And then there was the hair.
For as long as anyone could remember, Artie Saffron had wild, shock white hair. It looked wind swept and untamed; yet underneath the hair was a gentle philanthropist, community leader, and tutor.
Saffron was known for letting families pay what they could, when they could, for furniture and those too young for buying appliances but in need of extra help in mathematics were welcome to learn and master elementary arithmetic in his store using his books and ledgers as examples of how math is used day-to-day. In Artie’s world, math mattered and he enjoyed sharing this knowledge.
In short, Artie Saffron was an all around good guy. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 85.
Sociables Pub and Eatery now resides where Saffron’s furniture business once was. It was no easy feat finding the right business to fill the legacy that was Saffron’s furniture store, and after a full year of operation Sociables has proven to be the perfect compliment to Springhill’s downtown. It was known the business planned to grow and include the upstairs of the building as part of its offerings, with a conference room that can be opened for all occasions. What wasn’t known was what to call it. ‘Conference room’ or ‘upstairs’ were too plain.
“The idea to have a contest came from us sitting around a table and deciding it was a good idea,” Trudy Harrison, who along with her husband Jeff, and Brent and Krista MacDonald own and operate the business. “We wanted to have the community involved, and the idea was well accepted.”
Not surprisingly, after the contest was up and running Artie Saffron’s name appeared more than once, but one particular arrangement kept appearing.
“Artie’s name appeared probably 10 or 15 times, but Artie’s Attic was in there four times. We put the four submissions in a hat, and Bonnie Hamilton was our winner,” Harrison said. “As soon as we saw ‘Artie’s Attic,’ we really liked it because of the history of the building.”
Part of that history, Brent MacDonald says, is the generosity of the man.
“A lot of people have said they wouldn’t be where they are now if it weren’t for Mr. Saffron,” MacDonald said. “I remember buying a few hockey sticks from him, but others have told me how he helped them get furniture with what little they had. But the most common thing I’ve heard of was the tutoring of math.”
And so, Artie’s Attic is now a permanent fixture in the very same building he created his legacy. A silhouette of Saffron adorns a sign at the stairs directing people upwards.
For those who never met Saffron, one could easily misinterpret that silhouette for an oak tree: strong and wise in its years.
For those who remember him, however, there’s little doubt it’s Artie Saffron and his trademark hair. His legacy just as strong as the oak, and his community all the wiser for knowing him in his lifetime.
Artie’s Attic @Scoiables:
Upstairs of Sociables Pub and Eatery at 25 Main Street, Springhill, Artie’s Attic is available for private parties and special functions. On Friday, April 24, Artie’s Attic will host a special night with a medium, but until then everyone can settle into the attic for Thursday night trivia, which runs from 8-9 p.m. For more information or booking, contact 902-763-3100.