Colborne enjoyed a great variety of prosperous businesses and trades, including grocery stores, shoe stores, blacksmith and livery stable operators, and tailor and clothing stores, as early as the 1850s. Tinsmiths, cabinet makers, druggists, saloonkeepers and pottery makers rounded out the local business community. Many business owners marketed their wares through the storefront displays of their front doors and window space.
Business signs were another important form of communicating with potential customers. Both the storefront displays and signs reveal much about the range of products and services that particular merchants offerred as well as the individual creativity of the owner. The carved pocket watch seen behind the head of the man in the middle symbolizes a jewellery shop, in particular Mayhew's Jewellery store. This brightly painted business sign, which serves as the thumbnail image for this exhibition, is in the Cramahe Archives collection.