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It stopped being about stereos a long time ago.
In 1994, while I was still a student, I acquired my first Clairtone. As a part of a research paper assignment given to me by my design history professor, Rachel Gotlieb, an authority on Canadian design and who has since authored several books on the subject, I was tasked with researching a short-lived Stereo company called Clairtone. From then I was hooked and soon after handing in my research paper I found a G2 in a junk store window in Toronto’s East end.
After meeting Daniel, an award winning sound engineer, I was curious if he had ever heard of Clairtone. He hadn’t so we looked one up online and he was intrigued. It was not long after that we found a G3 well, at least part of G3 as the seller would not part with the speakers and the body was missing its turntable. That was 5 years ago and now we have well over a dozen Project G series stereos and while we have become more discerning in what we acquire, the collection continues to grow.
So why do we continue collecting? It wasn’t until we started researching the company of Clairtone itself that our mandate changed. Clairtone, in the 1960’s, epitomized the optimism and ingenuity of the country; Canada was young, brash and with a world’s fair under its belt, it was seemingly comfortable taking its place on the world stage. Clairtone, and its charismatic founders, Peter Munk and David Gilmour, was a company that seemed a perfect fit for these times. The Canadian people wanted new and fresh and appeared to be shaking off its stodgy grey mantle. The Project G hit the scene at the ideal time and while it can be argued the Project G was not a huge commercial success, it certainly paid dividends well beyond the financial.
The Project G series was a statement. A statement made in a loud clear voice previously unknown in the somewhat staid marketing world of Canada. It was practically salacious in design and almost, dare we say, sexy? It is that period of time, that open mindset, that need to push further than the accepted: it is fearlessness that we collect. It was he perfect storm of audacity and optimism.
So, to us, the Project G represents a time better than now. A time when music was a shared social event and not just an instant access, pick-and-choose private insularity. We conserve these wonderful stereos to remind people not what we once were as a nation but what we still can be.