Mr. J. Donald Burke, Burke & Wallace Silversmiths, Canadian Vintage

Celebrating Mr. J. Donald Burke, and sharing this post with gratitude…

Some of you might remember this pair of vintage silver goblets I featured over at Audrey Would! A beautiful boxed set nestled in turquoise satin by silversmiths, Burke and Wallace.

Burke & Wallace Silver Plated Goblets, Boxed Set

Today it is my privilege and honour to share a little history about Mr. J. Donald Burke, written and provided to me by Mr. Burke’s daughter, Shirley Imbeau.

But first, do you recognize this 36″ high, 35 pound silver goblet in the hands of J. Donald Burke? Yes, the Stanley Cup is very much a part of Mr. Burke’s story!

J. Donald Burke (1963), Stanley CupJ. Donald Burke, 1963 (Photo courtesy of Shirley Imbeau)

A glimpse into the life of J. Donald Burke as written and shared by daughter, Shirley Imbeau:

J. Donald Burke  was born in a small town, Trenton, Ontario, Canada in 1922.  His father died when he was twelve and being the oldest son in a family of 5 children, he left school with a 7th grade education, and started working to support the family at a silver manufacturing plant, Benedict Proctor and Sons. He started in the cleaning department, and learned to love and understand the silver business.

He had mastoid surgery in 1942 and completely lost his hearing in one ear so was unable to fight in the war, but moved to Toronto and set up a silver repair business.  He was able to get financing from Mr. Wallace (unrelated to Wallace Sterling) and Burke and Wallace became a silver manufacturing company in Toronto.  With amazing people skills, a gift he has always used for God, and with what my mother always referred to as ‘know how’, he grew the business until it was the largest in Canada until he sold it in 1986 and it was subsequently and very sadly closed down.

He made silver under many trademarks; I still don’t recognize them all!  For many years he repaired the Stanley Cup, added rings, and made individual cups for the players of the winning teams.  In 1963 it was decided that the cup was becoming too brittle to be enjoyed by the winning teams and he made an exact replica. On Nov 4, 2014, the Keepers of the Cup, Phil Pritchard and Craig Campbell brought the cup for a special visit to the retirement home where my father now lives.

J. Donald Burke, 2014, Stanley CupJ. Donald Burke, 2014 (Photo courtesy of Shirley Imbeau)

Such a privileged glimpse into an amazing man’s story! I’m sad too, that Burke & Wallace no longer exists, and am grateful to have come across these goblets, grateful for what transpired next.

And what did transpire? How does all of this tie together with Audrey Would? Some of you might remember this Facebook post from January…

Burke & Wallace Goblets

Wouldn’t you agree, this is a truly beautiful goblet set?

And now, here is where the goblets have ended up…

We are so delighted to have the wine goblets, and my son Andrew who adores his grandfather and found them on your website, is now the proud owner.

[Shirley Imbeau] 

I have always believed it’s in the stories where each piece comes to life, and these goblets definitely have a life! They have certainly travelled a journey to find their way home.
Thank you Shirley, for taking the time to share a little of your father’s story!
Signature 100x47 b&w
Photographs by Sheila Zeller unless otherwise indicated. Please link and credit if you choose to use. As a courtesy, please do not republish the images of Mr. J. Donald Burke without the consent of Shirley Imbeau.

12 thoughts on “Mr. J. Donald Burke, Burke & Wallace Silversmiths, Canadian Vintage”

    • Thank you Lisa! I am still so thrilled with the way this all fell into place, and love that I’ve been able to share through my blog just a little more on Mr. Burke! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. 🙂

    • I know, right eh, Heather? 😉 The way this whole piece fell into place will be one of my favourites for a long time to come, and the really cool thing is I had no idea about the Stanley Cup connection until I received what Shirley wrote! The more I can learn about Canadian vintage on this level, the more I want to know!

  • Wonderful article. Now I have the history of the firm that made the 75th anniversary OPP Aux plate which I received in August 1985.
    Thank-you so very much.

    • It’s my pleasure! I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!!

  • The care you take in your treasures, especially my father’s silverware is very meaningful to me and it was to my father, Mr. Burke. How I wish I had a more comprehensive history of his company. Today I started a search and your site is where I am led. So far. Mr. Burke passed away on June 1, 2017. He was so happy about your interest, and to know that there are still people who value the craftsmanship and beauty of silverware.

    • Shirley, thank you so much for your comment and letting me know that sadly, your father has passed. Please accept my sincerest condolences. The beauty and quality of his silverware will live on. I am grateful you connected with me and shared some insight into his influence in the silver industry… Many kind regards, Sheila

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