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History of Hands Auction Service Ltd.

Officially speaking, Hands Auction Service Ltd. has been around since 1977, but that's not telling the whole story. For that, we'll need to go all the way back to 1930's in the small rural town of Perth, Ontario.

In 1938, a rather large, charismatic man by the name of Clayton Hands found a new "calling" in life. He would become the first Auctioneer in his family, a vocation that has now spanned 3 generations and is carried on by his two grandsons, Jason and Matthew. 

Clayton was known for his boisterous voice, which served him well since he never used a speaker system. In a local newspaper interview he once lamented "I remember this fella saying to me that he was at an auction in Calgary not long ago and he sat beside a man who mentioned an auctioneer in Ontario, one who could belt out a sale.'This guy could be heard all the way down the road by a mile' the man said. My friend piped up and said I know that bugger! That's Clayton Hands.'"

"And he was right"

Clayton's oldest son, John Hands, was his right hand man through much of these years. John grew up in the business. It was in his blood. And he would soon follow in his father's footsteps. In 1968, John became the first family member to become officially trained as an auctioneer by attending the Reisch American School of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa. 

So, in 1977 fortified with a decade of experience as an Auctioneer under his father and a life-time growing up in the Auction business (not to mention all those years working the family farm) John set off to blaze his own trail.

John started with a modest office on King Street in Brockville, from there he purchased a former community centre and Hands Auction Service really started to take shape.  He sold it all from antiques, and collectables to farm machinery and real estate.  Working side by side with his wife Carrie - John called the Auctions while Carrie managed the office.

One Auction day John woke up with a terrible cold, with no other option “the show had to go on” and he soldiered through the entire auction while terribly ill.  Afterwards in the office John was sick and fatigued, Carrie lamented she wished she could have done more to help him.  He looked at her and uttered a now famous phrase. “Fine, you’re going to Auction School”.

Carrie Hands (bottom row, 7th from the left)

Carrie left her two young boys (to eat their Dads cooking) and travelled to Mason City, Iowa to attend Auction College.  On her return to quote the famous Leroy Van Dyke song “(s)he practised calling bids both night and day.”  Family dinners at the Hands Household were filled with Auction chants and mock bids.  Carrie's trademark determination was evident.

After a successful auctioneering debut Carrie continued to hone her craft eventually becoming both a National and Provincial Champion.  Both Carrie and John were featured on several national and regional TV shows, including 'Canada AM' and 'On the Road Again with Wayne Rostad'. 

During the Auctions while one would auction the other would “work the ring” introducing and describing items while calling bids.  Their chemistry was unmatched; Carrie's charm and enthusiasm was a perfect match with John's dry wit.  People not only came to bid and perhaps buy a couple things; They came for the show. Friday nights in the small village of Algonquin (just outside of Brockville) were routinely invaded by scores of cars. 

When John passed away Carrie stepped forward and ran the company with the help of her two sons Jason and Matthew.  For many years a dear family friend (and fellow Auctioneer) Joe Botham came and helped with countless Auctions and running the ring. Joe is by all accounts the Best Ringman of all time. 

Over the last decade Debbie Seary has become an integral and essential part of both the business and the Hands Family.  Trained by Carrie her smarts, savvy, and work ethic has propelled her from part-time clerk to Office Manager to her current role of General Manager.

Growing up in the business both Jason and Matt have worked in every aspect of the auction business, and are both auctioneers themselves.  This business flows through their veins.  With Carrie's passing in 2020, the brothers are now partners in Hands Auction Service Ltd. and are both heavily involved in the day to day operations.  

The Hands Tradition Lives On