THE RAILWAY ROLLING STOCK
|Canada Car & Mfg. Co. || ||Toronto ||1874|
|Canadian Engine & Machinery Co. ||  ||Kingston ||1870-1873|
|Augustin Cantin ||  ||Montreal ||1860|
|Carmichael & Brown ||  ||Montreal ||1855|
|Dickey, Neill & Co. ||  ||Toronto ||1871-1873|
|William Hamilton & Sons. Ltd. ||  ||Toronto ||1872-1873|
|Gzowski & Co. ||  ||Toronto ||1854|
|F. James ||  ||Saint John ||1858-1860|
|Kingston Car Works (P.W. Folger) ||  ||Kingston ||1883-1884|
|McLean & Co. ||  ||Montreal ||1850-1856|
|Midland Manufacturing Co. ||  ||Port Hope ||1870-1880|
|Michael O'Meara ||  ||Montreal ||1852|
|Peto & Co. ||  ||Montreal? ||1855-1856|
|Pierson & Benedict ||  ||Niagara ||1859|
|Starr Manufacturing Co. ||  ||Dartmouth, N.S. ||1880|
|Canada Car Co. (Turcot) ||  ||Montreal ||1905-1909|
|Canadian Car & Foundry Co., Ltd. ||S ||Montreal, Amherst |
and Fort William
|Crossen Car Manufacturing Co. ||  ||Cobourg ||1866-1915|
|Dominion Car & Foundry Co. ||  ||Montreal ||1906-1909|
|Eastern Car Co. Ltd. ||XX S ||Trenton, N.S. ||1912-|
|James Harris & Co. ||  ||Saint John ||1860-1891|
|National Steel Car Corporation Ltd. ||XX S ||Hamilton ||1912-|
|Ontario Car Co. (T. Muir & Son) ||  ||London ||1872-1886|
|The Rathbun Company ||  ||Deseronto ||1890-1913|
|Rhodes, Curry & Co., Ltd. ||  ||Amherst, N.S. ||1891-1910|
|Silliker Car Co. (later Nova Scotia Car Works) ||  ||Halifax ||1909-1915|
|Canadian General Electric Co., Ltd. ||  ||Peterborough ||1893-1901|
|N. & A.C. Lariviere ||  ||Montreal ||1886-1903|
|Preston Car & Coach Co. (later Canadian Brill Company) ||SW ||Preston ||1908-1922|
|Ottawa Car Manufacturing Co. ||SW ||Ottawa ||1893-1947|
|Patterson & Corbin ||  ||St. Catharines ||1887-1897|
|James S. Charles Omnibus Co., (later St. Charles & Pringle Co.) ||  ||Belleville ||1893|
|Tillsonburg Electric Car Co. ||  ||Tillsonburg ||1913-1914|
|Ledoux-Jennings Co. ||  ||Montreal ||1922-1923|
|Canadian General Transit Co. ||XX ST ||Riviere des Prairies ||1960-|
|General Motors Diesel Limited ||XX SX ||London ||1959-|
|Marine Industries Limited ||XX S ||Sorel ||1957-|
|Montreal Locomotive Works Ltd. ||XX S ||Montreal ||1961-|
|Procor Limited (formerly Sparling Tank Limited) ||XX ST ||Oakville ||1954-|
S — Steel car building plants
SW — Plants which built both steel and wood cars
ST — Steel tank car building plant only
SX — Has built steam generator cars and portable substation cars only
XX — Plants presently operating (as of early 1963)
NOTE: The Preston Car & Coach Co. was both a steam and electric railway car builder
The English construction firm of Peto, Brassey, Betts & Jackson were what would be today called a construction "consortium" for the purpose of building and equipping large portions of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, which was built in the mid-1850s.
In addition to actually constructing the line, theirs was the responsibility of furnishing the locomotives and rolling stock, and of turning the line over to the shareholders as an operating unit.
It was an unusual contract, but not an uncommon one for the times. Naturally, under such an arrangement, and on a project of such magnitude, the temptation was strong upon the partners to attempt to build their own locomotive and rolling stock rather than subcontract this to established builders.
A plant was therefore set up on the banks of the Mersey River at Birkenhead, England by Peto & Company, which became known as "Canada Works." Here some of the earliest locomotives in use on the Grand Trunk in Canada were built, and, it is also believed, parts, if not the entire structures, of many of its early cars.
Grand Trunk records in the possession of the writer show a total of 84 first class, second class and baggage cars to have been built by Peto & Company in the years 1855 and 1856, and also 50 stock, 160 box, 240 flat, 35 ballast and 20 rail cars. What the record does not say however, is where Peto & Company built them.
We can only speculate at this far remove, and the most reasonable speculation having regard for the times seems to be that the wheels, truck frames and other metal parts were probably sent out from England, and the wooden parts of the cars constructed here by Peto & Company's forces using local lumber which was abundant and cheap. This work probably took place at the port of debarkation, which was Montreal.
The cars constructed were used on the Atlantic & St. Lawrence, the Eastern Division, and the Toronto & Sarnia sections of the line, and were, if our analysis of the situation is correct, among the first railway cars built in Canada.
Some of these Peto & Company cars existed well into this century on the Grand Trunk, but no photographs or drawings of them have so far become available.
The firm of McLean & Wright, 72 Craig St., Montreal, were old established carriage builders when the Grand Trunk Railway gave them the first of several large orders for passenger and freight cars in 1850. They were in business as early as 1843 and possibly prior, and it is not known whether they built cars for some of the very few railways which were in existence in Canada prior to 1850.
In any case between 1850 and 1855 the McLean firm, under the various partnership styles through which it passed in that period, produced 794 box and flat cars, 25 ballast cars, and a total of 66 first class, second class and baggage cars for the Grand Trunk Railway.
The original principals of this partnership appear to have been Duncan McLean and Thomas Wright, both coach and carriage builders of Montreal. In 1853 they appear to have moved their shop to a new location in Montreal on Murray Street, near Wellington Street.
In 1854 the name of the firm was changed to McLean & Fleck, the new partner being Alexander Fleck, proprietor of the Vulcan Iron Works at 12 William Street, Montreal. This was a large foundry operation which was needed by Mr. McLean to supply the many metal parts for his increasingly large production of cars.
Thomas Wright disappears from Montreal city directories at this time, though other parties with the same surname continued in the carriage building business in Montreal for some years subsequently.
In 1856 Mr. Duncan McLean, the senior partner apparently moved from Montreal to Toronto and set up business there as a railway car builder on the north-west corner of Queen Street West and Denison Avenue. There is no indication that Alexander Fleck built any railway cars following the dissolution of his partnership with Duncan McLean. In about 1867 Alexander Fleck moved from Montreal to Ottawa, where the foundry business which he had commenced in Montreal is still functioning as Alexander Fleck Limited, manufacturers of sawmill and paper mill machinery.
It is not known how many, or exactly which McLean-built Grand Trunk cars were built in his Montreal period, or how many in his Toronto period, but it is certain that his Toronto operation did not survive after 1859, and it is probable that relatively few of the grand total of cars he produced were built in Toronto.
Many of these McLean-built cars, like the Peto & Company cars described earlier, lasted well into this century, and some of them were even active as construction sleeping and dining cars on the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific in the Canadian west.
If a photograph exists of one of them, it has not been possible to identify it positively as being a McLean-built car. This is because whilst the writer posesses Grand Trunk Equipment records from its beginnings up to 1890, and from 1906 till its acquisition by the Canadian National, those for the period 1890 to 1906 are apparently not available. As this period includes a general renumbering of all cars which took place on July 1, 1901, it is impossible to correlate the older record with the newer one.
Very regrettably, it now seems virtually certain that this much-needed "rosetta stone" which would give us the key to understanding the whole sequence of events relative to Grand Trunk passenger and freight equipment no longer exists.
According to Grand Trunk records in the writer's possession, this company built two first class coaches for the GTR in 1859, and 302 boxcars between 1858 and 1861. One of the first class coaches was built as a sleeping car, and must have been one of the first such cars on the GTR.
In 1870 all GTR sleeping cars were rebuilt into ordinary coaches when the company entered into a contract with Pullman's Palace Car Company in that year to supply all sleeping car service.
The writer also posesses a handwritten letter, from Pierson & Benedict soliciting business. It has no printed letterhead.
The whole impression created is that of a small one or two man shop with perhaps a dozen or so labourers, such as existed in many parts of the country in those pioneer times. It seems doubtful if the partners were ever really able to get their enterprise "off the ground" and that it only had a four-year existence.
A carriage builder of Montreal, who conducted business on Radegonde Street near Haymarket Square, and who built one first class coach for the Grand Trunk Railway in 1852, and 16 box and 10 flat cars for the same railway in 1854.
He was a carriage-maker of some pretension, if we are to judge from his advertisements in contemporary Montreal periodicals. His business was in existence as early as 1831, and like his competitors McLean & Wright, he may have built cars for some of the very earliest railways in Canada, but this is not proven.
There is no actual record of him having built any railway cars other than those above mentioned. His business disappeared about 1865, and the supposition is that Mr. O'Meara died about that date.
This firm built two first class coaches for the Grand Trunk Railway sometime in the 1850s, and 97 flat cars, 25 box cars and 32 ballast cars in 1854 and 1855.
It also built one first class and one second class coach for the Carillon & Grenville Railway at about the same time. Nothing further is known about this partnership.
This enterprise was an offshoot of the Kingston & Pembroke Railway, in which, at the time, the Folger family of Kingston had active control.
In addition to building freight and passenger cars for its own Kingston & Pembroke Railway, the firm in the years 1883 and 1884 built a few passenger and baggage cars for the Intercolonial Railway.
It may be only a coincidence, but at the time in question, Sir John A. Macdonald, a native of Kingston, was Prime Minister of Canada.
In any case, the operation did not have a long life, and there is no indication that its production totalled more than about twenty cars.
It had nothing to do with the Canadian Engine & Machinery Company (now Canadian Locomotive Company) which earlier had been active in car building in Kingston, and which at various times also produced small orders of freight cars and snow plows in addition to locomotives.
This company is believed to have had some connection with the old Midland Railway of Canada, and may even have been owned directly by it.
It functioned in the old Midland Railway shops at Port Hope and built cars both for that line, and for all comers until 1880, when it was completely wiped out by fire.
It is believed its production was devoted mainly to freight equipment.
This builder constructed seven first and second class passenger cars between 1858 and 1860 for the European and North American Railway, which is today the CN line from Saint John to Moncton and Shediac.
Nothing is known about him up to the present time.
This was a general foundry business which functioned in Toronto from about 1860 to 1881. The partners were Nathaniel Dickey, James I. Dickey and John Neill, and their foundry was originally at 18 Beverley Street, very close to the station and Toronto terminus of the narrow gauge Toronto & Nipissing Railway, which was built in the years 1871-73, from Toronto to Coboconk.
At exactly the same period, the Toronto, Grey & Bruce Railway, also narrow-gauge, was constructed from Toronto to Owen Sound. For this railway, Dickey, Neill & Co. built nine passenger cars and one official car in 1871. It is also probable that they built many or most of the freight cars of the Toronto & Nipissing.
The motto of this firm, "Faugh & Ballagh" which appears on its letterheads and invoices, some of which are in the possession of the writer, would seem to indicate a distinctly Irish background on the part of the partners.
In 1875, the firm moved to a new location at 2 Bathurst Street, at the northwest corner of Bathurst and Front Streets, on land now occupied by the Kaufman Metal Company. Within two years the partnership was dissolved and in 1877 the premises were taken over by the Toronto Reaper & Mower Co.
At this date the surviving partner, John Neill, together with his sons John Neill Jr. and Robert Neill set up as J. Neill & Sons, iron founders, boilermakers and machinists, on Esplanade Street West, near the foot of York Street, retaining the old name of the Soho Foundry. This business ceased in 1880 or 1881.
The firm built equipment in many fields, but their only period of railway car building activity was during 1871.
This was a very active general foundry business which functioned in Toronto throughout almost the entire second half of the 19th century.
They built all types of mill machinery, and manufactured cast iron water pipe, hydraulic valves, railway car trucks, fences, grilles, cast iron staircases, set and cap screws and cold pressed nuts. They also supplied and fabricated structural steel beams, and contracted for the fabrication and erection of bridges and other forms of steel work.
In 1872 they built 17 second class cars and 6 combination cars for the Great Western Railway, and the following year a mail and express car for the Northern Railway of Canada.
At an unstated date they also built a combination car for the Canada Southern Railway. In addition, during the years 1872 and 1873, they built 180 box cars for the Grand Trunk Railway. These were the only two years in the firm's history when they were known to have engaged in railway car building.
The exact location of this firm was on the north side of Front Street East, between Berkeley and Parliament Streets, and its active management was carried on by the Messrs. William Hamilton — Senior and Junior.
In 1878 the father apparently left the son in charge of the St. Lawrence Foundry, and started a new foundry of his own called the Don Foundry on the north side of King Street East between St. Lawrence Street and the Don River Bridge. By 1880 this foundry was taken over by others and in 1886 we find William Hamilton Senior employed as Manager of the Toronto Water Works, which then were located at the end of a long pier in Toronto Bay at the foot of Peter Street. He held this position until his death.
His son, William Mortimer Hamilton continued in control of the original enterprise, which by now was incorporated as the St. Lawrence Foundry Co. of Toronto, and was still operating at its old address, 206 Front Street East.
This firm was sold in 1900 to the Toronto financier W.D. Matthews, and reorganized by him as the Canada Foundry Company Limited. A few years later, in 1903, it was again sold — this time to a group headed by W.R. Brock and Frederic Nicholls who were prominently identified with the Canadian General Electric Co.
A new, large plant was then built by and for the firm in the town of Toronto Junction at the corner of Davenport Road and Lansdowne Avenue, and the olf Front Street East location was abandoned.
Commencing in 1904, the Canada Foundry Company entered a new phase of railway activity — building steam locomotives and railway steam shovels. They never again built cars however.
The plant became known as Canadian Allis-Chalmers Limited about 1916 and part of it remained such until 1951, when the entire plant reverted to the Canadian General Electric Co., Ltd., who had previously occupied parts of it for a long period.
It is now known as the Davenport Works of the Canadian General Electric Co. Locomotive and steam shovel production at this plant ceased in 1918.
This company opened on February 7, 1874 for the purpose of building railway cars with convict labour at the Central Prison in Toronto. The location of the prison was on the west side of Strachan Avenue, near the Great Western Railway tracks (the present CN Oakville Subdivision).
They received several orders from the Great Western for freight cars, but never built any passenger cars of which we have a record.
A mechanical engineer named Hugh Bains was the organization's original Managing Director. In 1876, C.H. Warren was Manager, and in 1878, Thomas Bailey succeeded to that position.
The last record of this organization appears in the Toronto city directory for 1880, and it apparently went out of existence in that year.
It may come as a surprise to many that this well-known locomotive manufacturer also at one time engaged in car-building activity. Yet Grand Trunk records show that 320 box cars and several snow plows were built by this firm for the GTR over the years 1870 to 1873.
This was the gauge conversion period on the Grand Trunk, when there was an especially heavy demand for new cars.
This company was originally esablished in 1850 by Messrs. Tutton & Duncan. In 1854 control was acquired by Messrs. Morton & Hinds, and in 1865 the Canadian Engine & Machinery Co. was formed.
In 1886 a controlling interest was purchased by Dubs & Co., locomotive builders of Glasgow, Scotland, whose works were later known as the North British Locomotive Co.
Early in 1900 the company was forced into liquidation, and the following November the Canadian Locomotive Company was formed, to be succeeded again in 1911, by the formation of the present company known as the Canadian Locomotive Company Limited.
SInce about 1946 the firm has been controlled by Fairbanks, Morse & Co. Inc. Whilst the firm has built many thousands of locomotives, this is the only instance which has come to the writer's attention in which they constructed cars.
Augustin Cantin is more famous as a shipbuilder than as a railway car builder. Yet Grand Trunk records show that he built 35 box cars for that railway in 1860.
Mr. Cantin's business, sometimes known as "Canada Marine Works" was located at the old Cantin drydock on the north bank of the Lachine Canal near St. Gabriel Lock. Here he built many lake and river vessels over a long period.
As a matter of fact this drydock existed until 1960, and latterly was operated as St. Lawrence Metal & Marine Works Ltd., a firm controlled by Gaston Elie, of Joseph Elie Limited, fuel oil dealers of Montreal.
If Mr. Augustin Cantin built railway cars other than this one order, they are not known to this writer.
The firm of Gzowski & Co., controlled by Sir Casimir Stanielene (sp?) Gzowski, had the contract for building the Toronto to Sarnia section of the Grand Trunk Railway, which was completed in 1854-55.
In this connection he built 40 flat cars for use in construction work and later turned them over to the Grand Trunk Railway.
Sir Casimir Gzowski was a very distinguished Polish engineer who emigrated to Canada and made a considerable fortune here. He was knighted by Queen Victoria and was a highly respected citizen.
This is the only instance which has come to the attention of the writer that the firm of Gzowski & Co. engaged in car building activity.
This firm built a group of dump cars for the Intercolonial Railway in the 1880s.
It is the only instance known to this writer in which they engaged in car building activity, though they appear to be a fairly regular supplier of other forms of railway supplies to the Intercolonial.
This was a general foundry business established in Saint John in 1831, which built its first railway cars in 1860.
Its senior partner, Mr. James Harris was born at Annapolis, N.S. in 1803. He commenced in the blacksmith trade there, and soon afterwards moved to Saint John, N.B., where he first became an edge-tool maker with James Wood. He then, with Thomas Allan, a machinist, set up business under the name Harris & Allan, machinists and blacksmiths, occupying a shop on Portland Bridge, in connection with which they also kept a hardware store.
In 1831 they set up a small foundry on a new site to which they removed their machine and blacksmith shops. These works were on a small scale, and for the first six months the blast for their furnace was provided by two large blacksmith's bellows, worked by men working relays. Power was later applied, and in a few years the fan blast was introduced.
As business increased, the plant buildings were enlarged and others erected, all of which were of wood. These comprised foundry and machine shops; blacksmith, pattern and fitting up shops and warehouse. Following a fire in 1856, a new three-storey brick machine shop with basement was built.
Another fire occurred in 1871, when the large warehouse, stove shops, and the 200 ft. long car shop, containing a large number of flat cars in the course of construction, were burned, with a net loss of $40,000. These buildings were soon replaced by others.
In 1875 the Harris plant consisted of two large foundries, an extensive blacksmith shop, a three-storey brick machine shop with attic devoted to sheet iron and tin work for the production of stove ware; two large stove warehouses; two large car shops, a pattern shop, a finishing and fitting-up shop; an engine house and various warehouses and stores buildings. In all, the plant covered about three acres.
Nearly every type of iron work required in the Saint John area was manufactured at this plant, and railway cars were only one phase of its total production. Among the items produced were mowing and threshing machines, farm plows, farmer's boilers, cooking and ornmamental stoves, enamelled mantel pieces, register grates, Franklin stoves and kitchen ranges, iron fencing, the Emerson patent windlass, powered and plain capstans, ship's castings, ship's knees, hammered shafting, steam engines, mill machinery (both iron and wood), railway car wheels and axles, and complete railway cars of every description.
In 1863 the firm built a large rolling mill, situated on the "straight shore" in the Portland section of Saint John. Its building was 70 x 110 feet, and all machinery in it was built by the firm. The operation of this mill was chiefly confined to car axles, ship's knees and hammered shafting.
From 200 to 300 men were employed in the Harris plants, and the company had in addition, a large store at 17 Water Street, Saint John, for the sale of stoves and various other productions of its works.
The firm built its first railway cars in 1860 for the European & North American Railway, which is now the Canadian National line from Saint John to Moncton and Shediac.
The coach used by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) between Saint John and Rothesay on his state visit to Canada in 1860, was one of the first products of the Harris firm. Photos show it to have been originally equipped with eight-wheel trucks.
The firm built a large number of freight and passenger cars for the Intercolonial Railway, the New Brunswick Railway and for the Windsor & Annapolis Railway (now part of the Dominion Atlantic Railway). It also built, in 1884, the first two colonist cars on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Nearly all of its production however, was for roads in the Maritime provinces.
Mr. Allan died in 1860, and his interest was purchased by the surviving partner, Mr. Harris. The name of the firm was then changed to James Harris & Co.
Mr. James Harris died at an advanced age in 1891. Two years later the firm's assets were bought by Rhodes, Curry & Co. of Amherst, Nova Scotia, and moved to that centre.
Rhodes, Curry & Co. previous to this event were a firm who engaged in millwork and building construction exclusively. Following the Harris purchase, that firm became extremely successful in the railway car building industry.
Colonel G.R. Stevens, in his recent history of the Canadian National, described the Intercolonial as "a parochial railway" and the term is very apt. The line was always somewhat better equipped than its traffic would seem to warrant, and being owned by the Dominion Government, its equipment buying too often was done with friends of the part in power ... a state of affairs which happily has never beset its successor, the Canadian National.
It is probable that this situation had something to do with the formation of the Silliker Car Company at Halifax in 1909, its great hope resting on the influence of certain Maritime politicians on the Department of Railways and Canals at Ottawa, who controlled the purse strings of the Intercolonial. Apparently the government changed, or the influence did not prove as effective as was hoped for, because the company lasted only seven years as a railway car producer, from 1909 until 1915.
Its founders were Elmore E. and Clarence J. Silliker, real estate and lumber dealers of Amherst, N.S. Without doubt, these gentlemen were influenced by the phenomenal success of Rhodes, Curry & Co. of that town as railway car builders, and strove to emulate them by hiring away some of Rhodes, Curry's key employees.
The site of their plant was on the east side of Windsor Street, between Almon and North Streets in Halifax. In this plant the firm produced several large freight car orders for the Intercolonial, Canadian Northern and Canadian Pacific, and built sixteen passenger cars for the Intercolonial and 22 for the Canadian Northern. In addition, they built a number of single-truck street cars for their native Halifax.
The company apparently went through a bankruptcy in 1912 and was reorganized in that year by F.B. McCurdy, a prominent Maritimes financier, as the Nova Scotia Car Works. The company however, did not produce after 1915.
A possible reason for its demise is that it was a 100% wood car plant, and came into being just a few years before the demand for all-wood cars completely terminated. The logical source of steel for car building in the Maritime provinces is Sydney, and the steel interests there in 1912 had set up their own car building plant in the form of the Eastern Car Co. Ltd., at Trenton, N.S.
The Silliker operation therefore became redundant, and since it could not hope to compete with a primary steel manufacturer in the car business, even if it did convert to steel car production, it closed.
The Eastern Car Company Limited was organized in 1912 as a division of the Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Company Limited, which already owned foundry and forging facilities in and near New Glasgow, N.S., of which Trenton is a suburb.
This parent company had its beginning in 1872 as a small forge plant set up to provide ship fastenings and other forged iron products. The company very early expanded its range of products and in 1876 railway car axles were being manufactured from bundled faggots of iron. These were perhaps the first standard gauge car axles forged in Canada.
An open-hearth steel plant was also established in Trenton, and the first open-hearth steel in Canada was produced from this plant in 1883. The source of raw material for the operation was a local deposit of iron ore and limestone, which was processed to produce a good quality of pig iron in a blast furnace nearby.
It was natural for this company to develop other activities which would create markets for their steel products, and because they had built finishing plants for the production of rods, bars and shapes, as well as other rolled products, at their Trenton operations, a railway car-building facility was a natural addition when the transition was taking place from wood to steel railway cars. The arrangement has proven very satisfactory both for the parent company and for Eastern Car.
The main plant building consists of four bays, each 90 feet wide; three bays being 1,100 feet long and one bay 1,300 feet long. There are a total of 13 acres under roof in the main and auxiliary buildings. In addition to a full woodworking shop, with adequate dry kilns, a foundry for cast iron car wheels was built. This was operated under lease by Dominion Wheel & Foundries Ltd. for many years; then by Canada Iron Foundries Ltd. until 1962, when it was closed down due to the changeover from cast to forged steel wheels by all North American railways.
The first car order processed through this plant was one for 2,000 steel-framed wood-sheathed, wood-roofed box cars for the Grand Trunk Railway in 1913. For these cars almost all the steel was rolled next door in the parent company's mills, including the heavy bar stock for the arch-bar trucks then in vogue.
Orders from most of the major Canadian railways quickly followed, and in 1915 the plant also secured a large export order for box cars for the Czarist Russian government. Not all of these cars were delivered before the revolution in Russia cut off further shipments, and many which were awaiting shipment on the docks at Saint John were subsequently sold as scrap.
The Eastern Car Co. plant has been in continuous operation since 1913, and has produced over 63,500 freight cars since that time. In addition, approximately 9,300 cars were produced for use in Nova Scotia coal and ore mining.
The plant has also produced many other products of a heavy engineering nature, such as ingot and charging pen cars for steel mills; heavy weldments, conveyor troughing, and equipment for many industrial uses.
In the late 1920s its parent, the Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Company, entered into a merger with its competitor the Dominion Iron & Steel Co. of Sydney, N.S. as the Dominion Steel & Coal Corporation. Much later this latter corporation was acquired by the A.V. Roe (or Hawker Siddeley group) of Great Britain.
The plant is today one of the two largest producers of railway cars operating in Canada, and has never in its history built any passenger equipment, being set up for producing freight cars in volume.
This company was incorporated in 1872 and its plant was located on the east side of Rectory Street, immediately south of the GTR tracks, on approximately the present site of CN's London car repair tracks.
Its president was James McMillan, who previously had been secretary of the Michigan Car Company of Detroit, which leads us to the supposition that perhaps the Ontario Car Co. was a Canadian subsidiary of the Michigan Car Co., which was a firm which had built a great many freight cars for the Great Western Railway and Grand Trunk at the time of their gauge conversion in the early seventies.
The manager of the business was Thomas Muir, and for some time the business was operated under the style of "T. Muir & Son." It also was known for a time as the London Car Works.
This operation was established in London two years before the Great Western Railway moved its own car repair shops from Hamilton to London.
It is not presently known just what previous railway car-building experience Mr. Muir had, but certain it is that he commanded a large following.
In addition to the usual large volume of wooden freight car production attendant upon the change of gauge of the Great Western and Grand Trunk, the company built passenger cars for the Canada Southern, Intercolonial, Grand Trunk, St. Lawrence & Ottawa, Midland Railway, Q.M.O. & O., New Brunswick Railway, Quebec Central and Canadian Pacific, as well as conducting a general millwork division which handled contracts for elaborate woodwork in public and other buildings in London and throughout southwestern Ontario.
In close connection with this works, a wheel foundry was established at the same period by William Gartshore, of the well-known Canadian railway supply family of that name, which functioned until the end of the gauge conversion period on Canadian railways slowed the temporarily abnormal demand.
The Ontario Car Company did not survive into the electric railway era, but it did produce horse cars, if we are to judge from the fact that one of these is pictured on the letterhead of the company, a copy of which is in the possession of the writer. It is probable that these horse cars were used in London itself.
The last record of cars being produced by the firm is in 1886, and mention of its existence ceases in London city directories in 1890. For this reason, it is the belief of this writer that a record of two Quebec Central baggage cars being built by this firm in 1896 is incorrect.
The reason for the firm's ceasing business at this time is unknown.
It had no connection with the GWR (later GTR and now CNR) car shops in London, as is sometimes incorrectly assumed by some writers.
This very prolific builder commenced manufacturing railway cars in 1866 when the Cobourg & Peterborough Railway, which passed his plant, placed an order for 12 wooden dump cars.
Mr. James Crossen was then the owner of a small foundry business in Cobourg, variously known as the Ontario Foundry, or Helm Foundry. The foundry was able to produce the castings for the metal parts of the cars, and the rest of the construction involved the use of lumber and timber, of which there was a plentiful supply in the Cobourg district at the time.
The times were propitious for the start of a large Canadian car-building enterprise, because conversion of the track gauge on roads such as the Grand Trunk and Great Western created a demand for large quantites of new rolling stock.
James Crossen filled a large part of this demand very creditably, and his works quickly became the largest railway car producer in Canada.
The founder of this enterprise, Mr. James Crossen, as born at Comber, County Down, Ireland, on March 9, 1826. In the year 1842 his father came to America with his wife and nine children and settled on a farm in western New York state, near Batavia.
In the year 1843, James Crossen crossed Lake Ontario to Cobourg and started a foundry. His business in fitting up grist mills took him far and wide through the country back of Cobourg, then known as the Newcastle District. His business expanded and in 1866 he began the construction of ore and freight cars for the Cobourg & Peterborough Railway. From the building of the simpler forms of cars, the business developed into a complete establishment for the construction of railway cars of all kinds, including freight, passenger and sleeping cars.
His first passenger cars were built in 1877 and were favourably received, resulting in many large repeat orders. Among the first customers for Crossen-built passenger cars were the Grand Trunk and Intercolonial Railways, both of which had already given Mr. Crossen large freight car orders. Then, in the 1880s, the Canadian Pacific also became a very large Crossen customer for both passenger and freight cars. It was to remain so until its Hochelaga Shops at Montreal had been equipped to produce most of the railway's own cars.
The first Crossen-built sleeping cars were the CHAUDIERE and VANCOUVER for the Canadian Pacific in 1885, and its first dining cars were the BUCKINGHAM, CLAREMONT and ST. JAMES, built in 1886 — also for the Canadian Pacific.
The first four parlour observation cars ever owned in Canada (that is to say, cars equipped with an open observation platform for use in revenue passenger service) were built by Crossen in 1906 for the Intercolonial Railway. There were of course, many business cars equipped with open observation platforms in this country before that date.
Whilst over its career the Crossen company built a fair number of sleeping, dining and parlour cars, the bulk of the work of this type was performed at this period for Canadian railways by firms in the United States, such as Pullman and Barney & Smith. Crossen products were in the main, not fancy, but good, workmanlike, high-production, and more or less standardized products built to good wood car design, and competitively priced.
Nearly every Canadian railway at the turn of the century had some Crossen products. The Intercolonial was always a good customer because it was owned by the Dominion Government and would therefore give preference to Canadian car builders, of which Crossen was largest at that time.
Crossen products also figured largely in the equipment roster of the Canadian Northern, which grew from a small line into a 9,500-mile system in the early years of the century. In 1910 Crossen built six parlour cars for the Canadian Northern which were true archetypes of the wooden, arch-window parlour car at its highest development.
Crossen's production of electric cars was very small, and only two or three small orders are known.
Mr. Crossen's elder son, William James Crossen, was associated with him in this work from the mid-eighties on, and his younger son, Frederick John Crossen, was fitting himself to enter the same work.
It was during his return from visiting his son Fred, then studying engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, that James Crossen was taken ill. He had reached Montreal from Boston and was stopping at the home of his friend Robert Cowans. Here he died on December 9, 1890 at the age of 65.
The Toronto "Globe", at the time of Mr. Crossen's funeral in Cobourg, had this to say of the Crossen car-building enterprise: "Nearly every railroad in Canada, large and small, has drawn some of its rolling stock from Cobourg; from the coal hoppers used at Lethbridge, N.W.T. and Springhill, Nova Scotia, to the transcontinental trains running from Atlantic to Pacific.
"The finest products of these works may be seen in the electrically-lighted train on the Canada Atlantic, running from Ottawa to Boston; the C.P.R. colonist cars; the first class and sleepers of the Intercolonial and C.P.R.; the lately-finished vestibule trains of the C.P.R. and the model officials' or private cars of the Governor General and Minister of Railways at Ottawa.
"The work upon these cars; their convenience and perfect running, and the beauty and elegance of their finish have never been excelled in America — but of these facts the travelling public are themselves quite well aware.
"Travellers have been familiar with the inscription on their handsomely-built cars, "James Crossen, Manufacturer, Cobourg, Ont." Into every one of these magnificent productions the life and thought of one of Canada's best manufacturers has been wrought."
Mr. Crossen was a Methodist in religion, and very active in the work of that denomination. The business was incorporated after his death as the Crossen Car Manufacturing Co. of Cobourg Ltd., with William James Crossen as President and General Manager, and Frederick John Crossen as Secretary. Fredrick J. Crossen died of appendicitis on March 14, 1896 at the age of 26.
The business was thereafter carried on by the elder son of the founder, until the end of the wooden car building era. Its last cars were constructed in 1915 and were a group of seven colonist cars and five baggage cars for the Canadian Northern. The firm then went into voluntary liquidation.
The reasons for this were twofold. Firstly, the time had arrived whn the plant either had to be converted to steel car production at great expense immediately, or die. The day of the all-wood car was at an end. Secondly, the Canadian Pacific, for years a faithful Crossen customer, had for some years been building practically all its own passenger and freight cars. This fact cut the available market about in half.
Mr. W.J. Crossen therefore wound up the company and retired, full of wealth and full of years, dying in Cobourg in the mid-1920s. It is believed that most of the buildings of the plant now form part of the plant occupied until about 1960 by Dominion Wheel & Foundries Limited.
A most diligent search has failed to reveal any trace of the records of the Crossen Car Manufacturing Company, or builder's photos of its products. It was a company never much given to advertising, except on the bulkheads and side-sheathing of its thousands of products, which it produced over 50 of the best years of the great railway boom era in Canada.
The principal and original occupation of the Rathbun Company was lumbering, and at various times they had timber licences on the watersheds of most rivers and streams flowing into Lake Ontario at points from Gananoque westward to Oshawa.
Where the flow of rivers was sufficient to permit of it, such as on the Moira, terminating at Belleville, and on the Trent, terminating at Trenton, lumber was sent down in cribs or in individual pieces, to be collected in booms at the river mouths, from whence it was towed by tugs to the comany's headquarters and mill at Deseronto, on the Bay of Quinte. Here it was milled into lumber and shipped in the company's own steamers to Oswego and other ports in the United States.
As the marketable timber contiguous to rivers and streams in this area became depleted, the company found it necessary to secure charters for railways from various points on the lakefront into the interior, the original purpose being to bring out additional timber which could not be floated.
When this timber, in its turn, had become depleted, the company was left with several railways — some long, others short — which by now were serving the population and other industries which had settled on the logged-over land.
The largest of these was the Bay of Quinte Railway, extending from the mill headquarters at Deseronto into the back country and terminating at Tweed. Important marl deposits were discovered on this line and a cement works was established at Strathcona to utilize this material.
With timber reserves in the area rapidly dropping to zero, and possessed of a large physical plant, the Rathbun Company's thoughts quite naturally turned to diversification for survival. Having on hand large stocks of lumber, which was then the prime ingredient for railway car building, it was felt they could profitably engage in this activity.
A railway car works was therefore established in Deseronto about 1890 and the first cars built were for the company's own Bay of Quinte Railway.
Whilst freight cars were naturally the largest item of production, a few passenger cars were turned out for the Bay of Quinte Railway, and Kingston & Pembroke Railway, and also electric street and suburban cars for the Montreal Park & Island Railway, the Kingston, Portsmouth & Cataraqui Railway and the Oshawa Railway — the latter being a line owned by the Rathbun Company.
The Rathbun family also turned to other forms of industrial diversification, and in the years 1890 to 1910 Deseronto was a busy industrial centre with a lumber mill, a car works, an iron smelter, a brick manufacturing plant and several smaller industries.
Possibly their diversification was, if anything, too widewpread so that insufficient attention was given to any one of the enterprises, because the car works never had anything like the following of its contemporaries such as Crossen, and most of its production was for roads in the immediate area.
It would appear that no sons were available to take a strong hand in the family business. In any case, the family had made its money in the great timber days and were not too concerned with the outcome. By about 1910 a process of liquidation set in, and in that year the Bay of Quinte Railway was disposed to to the Canadian Northern, who used part of it as a piece of their Toronto-Ottawa main line.
The whine of the great lumber mill at Deseronto and the scream of its whistle ceased in 1911, by which time the other industries of the village, excepting the car works, had been closed down. The company's steamers were sold off one by one, and its ship repair facilities abandoned.
In the following year, 1912, the company's remaining two railways, the Oshawa Railway and the Thousand Islands Railway were leased to the Grand Trunk, and today provide valuable switching service to industries at Oshawa and Gananoque.
In 1913 the car works too closed down, having utilized the remainder of the stockpiled seasoned lumber in the manufacture of wooden boxcars for the Canadian Northern.
Down to fairly recent times, the company's huge old Victorian office building with its gingerbread cupola stood at the water's edge in Deseronto. Now, even it too has gone, and nothing now remains of this large and little-known enterprise which once played so great a part in the development of eastern Ontario.
As stated in the foregoing history of James Harris & Co., Saint John, N.B., Rhodes, Curry & Co's. entry into the railway car building business dated from their purchase in 1893, of the plant machinery and inventory of the Harris firm, and its removal from Saint John to Amherst, N.S.
Rhodes, Curry & Co. already had a millwork and building supply business in Amherst, and it was felt that the car business, purchased from the estate of the late James Harris of Saint John, would form a profitable sideline to their main effort. It was to do so to such an extent as to dwarf to insignificance the original enterprise.
The capacity of the plant in 1893 was about 3 or 4 cars per day, but by 1909 it could turn out 20 freight cars per day and 5 passenger cars per month. The annual output in 1891 was 331 cars; in 1908 it was 2044 cars.
Essentially, it was a large wood car building plant, and included wheel, grey iron and malleable iron foundries, axle and machine shops, planing and rolling mills, cabinet shops and erecting and painting shops. It was also the largest woodworking factory in the Canadian Maritime provinces, and its property covered about 40 acres.
The company also owned 20,000 acres of timber limits in fee simple, at Little Forks, 16 miles from Amherst, equipped with saw and planing mills, necessary stores, dwellings, etc.
In addition to the car works, a profitable business was done in constructing buildings of all classes, and in the manufacture and sale of building materials. At Sydney, N.S., the company owned a woodworking factory, a lumber yard and wharf property, and at Halifax a lumber yard and warehouse for supplying building materials.
The location of the plant in the centre of the timber producing provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, guaranteed an unfailing supply of spruce and other local woods at low prices, whilst the proximity to tidewater on the Bay of Fundy enabled the importation of southern pine, oak and raw materials at favourable prices. From Springhill and Sydney the plant was able to obtain its supplies of coal and steel at low cost.
Rhodes, Curry & Co. sold rolling stock to practically all the railways of Canada, not only in the Maritimes, but also to the larger roads further west, and they rivalled the Crossens of Cobourg as the largest Canadian wooden car builder in the early years of the century.
The Canadian Northern, Canadian Pacific and Grand Trunk Pacific were all customers, as were the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario and other smaller Ontario roads. Even the far away Morrisey, Farnie & Michael Railway in British Columbia had some miners' coaches which were Rhodes Curry products — exact counterparts of some similar ones which the firm has supplied the Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Co. in Cape Breton.
Rhodes, Curry built 34 open and closed street cars for use in Halifax, two for Moncton and six for Sherbrooke — all of the single truck variety, plus five large double truck cars for use in Montreal.
Most, if not all, of the four wheel coal "jimmies" which until fairly recent years were so much a feature of Cape Breton, were built by Rhodes, Curry and its predecessor, James Harris & Company.
Probably the most elegant car ever constructed by Rhodes, Curry was the ALEXANDRA, built in 1905 for the use of the Governor General of Canada. It is the writer's good fortune to possess the original specification for this car, the interior of which was entirely of selected St. Jago mahogany. The car still exists as a Canadian National business car in greatly-altered form. It now has a steel underframe, and is steel plated, completely altering its former appearance.
The Canadian Pacific gave Rhodes, Curry an order for ten first-class coaches in 1903, and also several early freight car orders, but no means could the firm be said to have been extensive builders for the Canadian Pacific, who were noted adherents of Crossens of Cobourg.
The highly-successful partners in this enterprise were Nathaniel Curry and Nelson A. Rhodes of Amherst. Edgar Rhodes, who later became a premier of Nova Scotia and Dominion Minister of Fisheries, was a son of Mr. Nelson A. Rhodes.
By 1908, the business had grown to extremely large proportions, and 1,000 men were employed throughout the year, compared with 250 in 1893. The company's real estate, buildings, machinery and timber limits at Halifax, Sydney, Athol and Amherst were valued in March 1907 at $908,339.50. Current assets as of March 31, 1908 were $1,387,557.94, and current liabilities on the same date were $380,926.97, but the advent of the steel car was looming on the horizon and Mr. Nathaniel Curry moved with remarkable foresight.
He first incorporated his firm in August 1909 as the Rhodes, Curry Co., Limited with an authorized capital of $3 million. Then, later in the same year, he engineered a merger of his firm with the Dominion Car & Foundry Co. and Canada Car Co. of Montreal. The ensuing new company was known as the Canadian Car & Foundry Co. and Mr. Curry moved to Montreal and became its first president.
The move was made only in the nick of time, because it may be doubted if the Rhodes Curry wooden car building plant in the Maritimes would have been much use to the merger a few years later, after the steel car had gained widespread acceptance.
Canadian Car & Foundry operated the Amherst plant on a steadily decreasing basis until 1931, when it was closed altogether, the last car work being the overhaul of several linesmen's boarding cars for the Western Union Telegraph Company.
The plant today is the bar stock rolling mill of Enamel & Heating Products Limited, whose head office is in the neighbouring town of Sackville, N.B.
This company was incorporated in January 1905 with W.P. Coleman, president, and Sir Hugh Allan, vice-president. Its plant at Turcot, Montreal was completed in August 1905 and had a capacity of 7,500 freight cars and 150 passenger cars per year.
Even before the plant had opened, the company had taken orders for 12,000 freight cars and 250 passenger cars for the Grand Trunk and Grand Trunk Pacific Railways, delivery to begin in 1906, and the work to be distributed over the ensuing five years.
Equipping the Grand Trunk Pacific was a major undertaking, and more than half of the original freight cars of that road, and a large proportion of its passenger cars were built at the Canada Car Co.'s Turcot plant.
The Canada Car Co. at this period was 100% wood car plant, and it was not until after its amalgamation in 1909 as one of the units of Canadian Car & Foundry Co. that it engaged in steel car production, and even then only to a limited extent.
Being only about one mile removed from the plant of Dominion Car & Foundry Co., and connected to it by a private inter-plant railway, it was possible to build the steel underframe and other steelwork of cars at Dominion, and then ship the frames to the Turcot plant for the application of the woodwork.
The first such order handled was 1,500 steel underframe box cars for the Quebec, Montreal & Southern, which were started at Dominion and finished at Turcot. This took place even before the amalgamation of the two firms as units of Canadian Car & Foundry Co.
In addition to the heavy work for the Grand Trunk Pacific, the Canada Car Co. prior to amalgamation in Canadian Car & Foundry Co. in 1909 was able to take on several interesting other orders.
In 1906 they completed ten street cars for the Montreal Street Railway. They also built a very large number of Hart convertible ballast cars for the Hart-Otis Car Co., which held the patents and handled the sales on these cars.
In March 1906 they completed 30 steel underframe flat cars 61 feet long for the Grand Trunk Railway for use in special long timber service between Diver, Ont. and Sarnia.
In the passenger field they built three parlour-cafe cars for the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway which were the first steel underframe passenger cars built in Canada. They also built four interesting wooden dining cars for the Canadian Northern Railway.
In 1909 this plant joined in the merger with Dominion Car & Foundry Co., Montreal, and Rhodes, Curry & Co., Amherst, N.S. under the name Canadian Car & Foundry Co. The history of further progress will be found under the name of that company.
As early as July 1902, the Simplex Railway and Appliance Co. of Hammond, Indiana established a factory in the St. Henri district of Montreal to make Simplex car bolsters and Susemihl roller side bearings for use on the cars of Canadian railways.
These two items were extremely popular and were widely used on the freight equipment of nearly all our railways. The patents on both were controlled by the Simplex Railway Appliance Co.
Their first plant in Canada was on Rose de Lima Street, Montreal, and in addition to the above-named products, it also made brake beams. It did not, however, build cars.
The directors of the Simplex Railway Appliance Co. were deeply interested in the development of the steel freight car, and determined that as soon as cars of this type gained acceptance in Canada, they would start a plant at or near Montreal to build all-steel cars, or steel underframes for wooden cars.
Accordingly, in March 1906 the Dominion Steel Car Co. was incorporated at Montreal by directors associated with the Simplex Railway Appliance Co. and the American Steel Foundries Co., both of which firms stood to gain materially by supplying appurtenances for application to steel cars. The name of the company was shortly afterward changed to Dominion Car & Foundry Co., Ltd.
Their new plant at Ville St. Pierre, a western suburb of Montreal, was ready on September 1, 1906, and its first order was 1,500 D&H standard box cars for that railway's Canadian subsidiary, the Quebec, Montreal and Southern. These had steel underframes, Simplex trucks and castings, brake beams and truck bolsters. The Canada Car Co.'s Turcot plant applied the woodwork to them. This was the first instance wherein steelwork on cars was completed at Dominion, and the woodwork at Turcot.
The first steel frame box cars in Canada were built at this plant in 1909 for the Canadian Pacific. These were double wood sheathed cars. Soon however, the design engineers settled on a 36-ft. single sheathed steel frame box car with steel underframe and Simplex truck and body bolsters. This was without doubt one of the most successful car designs ever worked out in Canada, from the standpoint of subsequent orders placed. Ten years later, easily more than half of all the box cars in Canada were of this exact type. Naturally, this resulted in tremendous repeat orders for the Dominion plant.
Most of the energies of the Dominion plant were devoted to steel freight car production both before and after amalgamation in Canadian Car & Foundry Co. They did however, built eight street car underframes for the Winnipeg Electric Railway Co. in 1910 and fifty electric dump cars for the Montreal Street Railway.
For the further development of this plant after amalgamation in 1909 with Canadian Car & Foundry Co., kindly refer to the history of that firm.
This company was incorporated in November 1909 for the purpose of amalgamating the businesses of:
|    Rhodes Curry Co., Ltd. ||Amherst, N.S.|
|    Canada Car Co., Ltd. ||Turcot, Montreal, Quebec|
|    Dominion Car & Foundry Co., Ltd.    ||Montreal, Quebec|
For the previous histories of each of the above three firms, see elsewhere in this volume.
Mr. Nathaniel Curry of the Rhodes Curry Co., Ltd., who became president of the new company, made the following statement at the company's inauguration:
"The Dominion Car & Foundry Co. is located at Montreal. Its works were erected less than three years ago, and are equipped with the most up-to-date machinery for the construction of steel cars; also for the manufacture of bolsters, brake beams and other railway specialties.
"The Canada Car Co. is located about a mile from the Dominion Car & Foundry Co. This plant was erected less than five years ago, and is equipped with the most up-to-date machinery for the manufacture of wood passenger and freight cars, including wheel foundry, grey iron foundry, forging shops and machine shops.
"The Rhodes Curry Co. plant is located at Amherst, N.S., the geographical centre of the Maritime provinces. This plant started the manufacture of cars in a small way 17 years ago, but has grown to be a large concern. It is equipped for the manufacture of wood passenger and freight cars with a wheel foundry, grey iron foundry, forging and machine shops; also rolling mills, malleable iron foundry and axle shop.
"This company also owns 20,000 acres of timber lands, and operates saw mills and planing mills with branches at Halifax and Sydney.
"The Dominion Car & Foundry Co. has a capacity of 30 steel freight cars a day, and also capacity for the manufacture of bolsters, brake beams, and other specialties for 100 cars per day.
"The Canada Car Co. has a capacity for the manufacture of 100 passenger cars a year, and 25 freight cars a day.
"The Rhodes Curry Co. has a capacity for the manufacture of 60 passenger cars a year and 20 freight cars per day. Rolling mill capacity, 20 tons per day of bar iron and steel. Axle shop capacity 200 axles per day. Malleable iron foundry, 20 tons of finished malleable castings a day.
"The present capacity of these combined works is sufficient to take care of the Canadian railways for several years to come. The combined capacity of all other car companies in Canada is probably not over 100 cars a day.
"The net earnings of these three companies for the past two years have averaged $1,000,000 per year. This period has been a very dull one for car builders, and business was obtained under keen competition, with plants running at only half capacity. The savings in buying, selling, freight, administration and manufacture with these three concerns combined should add at least 40% to the net earnings without charging any more for the output. In my opinion the replacement value of these properties is over $7,500,000."
The Canadian Car & Foundry Co.'s net liquid assets at commencement of business were $2,229,025.02. The directors of the new company were: President, Nathaniel Curry, previously president Rhodes Curry Co.; Vice-President, W.W. Butler, previously vice-president, Dominion Car & Foundry, Co.; N.S. Raeder, previously General Manager, Canada Car Co.; W. Max Aitken (now Lord Beaverbrook), G.E. Drummond, Thomas J. Drummond, Herbert S. Holt and J. Redmond of Montreal, and I.H. Benn, London, England.
Mr. Curry at this time moved from Amherst to Montreal, where the company's head office was located. Mr. Butler took charge of sales, and Mr. Raeder of manufacturing.
The largest car-building operation Canada was ever to know was now in operation. In 1910, Mr. Curry, its president, said in an interview: "So great is the railway development in the Dominion that the output of cars from the works of the various Canadian concerns this year will exceed that of any preceding year by fully 50%.
"During the present year we will turn out 12,000 cars, even if we should book no further orders. Of this number, 4,000 have already been delivered. The value of the Canadian Car & Foundry Co.'s output from its three plants amount to $1,200,000 per month."
The company's report for the year ended September 30, 1911, showed profits of $1,007,137.58 which, after deducting 7% dividend on preference stock ($385,000) left a surplus of $622,137.58. Out of this, a common stock dividend of 4% was then declared, leaving a surplus of $467,137.58 out of the year's earnings, which was almost $23,000 greater than for the previous year.
The gross sales for the year were over $12,500,000, being a considerable increase over the previous year. At the close of the fiscal year the unfilled orders on the books amounted to over $5,000,000. On November 20th they amounted to $10,000,000.
Shortly after the organization of the company, it became apparent that facilities would have to be arranged for the production of steel castings which were entering more and more largely into the products. Early in 1911 it was found possible to secure the properties of the Montreal Steel Works Limited at Longue Pointe, Montreal, and the Ontario Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. at Welland, Ontario, the former being the largest producers of steel castings in Canada, and the latter having both a steel foundry and a rolling mill.
These two companies were reorganized as Canadian Steel Foundries Limited, a company formed by Canadian Car & Foundry Co. to take them over.
At a somewhat later date, the company acquired the plant and business of the Pratt & Letchworth Co., Ltd., Brantford, Ontario, and built a new car plant at Fort William, Ontario, which operated first in the closing years of the First World War, both in car-building and shipbuilding. In the Second World War it was to build aircraft and later motor buses and coaches.
At the period immediately following the amalgamation however, the Dominion plant engaged exclusively in steel car production; all wood car work, including the finishing of wood parts of steel cars built at Dominion, being done at Turcot or Amherst.
As we have seen, production facilities at all plants were large and modern, and kept pace with the times in both the wood and steel car fields.
In the years since their inception, the company may be said to have been the largest single factor in passenger car production in Canada, and also in electric street car production. In neither of these fields however, did they approach their pre-eminence in freight car manufacturing.
Producing at three, and later at two points, the company probably enjoyed a higher volume in cars produced on an average annual basis than any other Canadian builder either contemporary or previous.
The earliest passenger cars produced by this company continued designs instituted as early as 1906 and produced by various constituents to the merger. These were all-wood cars for the Grand Trunk and Grand Trunk Pacific with vestibules and double windows having arched upper sash. Credit for the design must go to the Pullman Company however, whose cars were in use on most Grand Trunk trains, and whose thinking on equipment design greatly influenced the Grand Trunk car department.
Canadian Northern passenger car orders also came in 1910, when ten sleepers, five baggage and four dining cars were built for that road. Intercolonial passenger cars were first built in 1912 and Canadian Pacific passenger cars in 1913, when 15 wooden tourist cars and 20 wooden baggage cars were built.
From the standpoint of passenger car production for major Canadian railways, the writer's researches show that Canadian Car & Foundry Co. built:
28 cars for the Intercolonial
181 cars for the Grand Trunk
206 cars for the Grand Trunk Pacific
122 cars for the Canadian Northern
866 cars for the Canadian Pacific
1254 cars for the Canadian National
The first steel tank cars built in Canada were constructed at this plant; also the first steel frame box cars, and the first steel twin pocket hopper cars.
Owing to the policy of the Canadian Pacific, which favoured building their own cars in their own shops, few orders were received from the C.P.R. until about 1920, when a change in this policy came about and the C.P.R. Angus shops ceased building cars in volume. Angus Shops still hung on to the perogative of finishing the interiors of C.P.R. passenger cars however, and all through the 1920s only had the "frames" of passenger cars built by outside firms such as Canadian Car. These were delivered to Angus in skeleton condition, and finished there.
Though Canadian Car built hundreds of passenger cars, they were seldom called upon to furnish a design for any of them, and nearly all their production for major roads seems to have been designed by the customers rather than by the builders. It is not therefore possible to point to a "Canadian Car" appearance in passenger rolling stock.
This statement is not so true in the field of electric street cars, of which the company built about 1,100 in its lifetime. Principal buyers of these were the Canadian cities of Montreal, Toronto, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver, and the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. As is common practice elsewhere, frequently the designs furnished on large orders, or variations of these designs, were furnished to smaller cities on smaller orders.
Passenger car production continued right up until just before the plant closed in 1961, and among the last such units produced were several Budd R.D.C. cars, on which the company had secured the Canadian manufacturing license. It also built the frames for six palatial Canadian National business cars constructed in 1959, which were completed and outfitted at the CN's Point St. Charles shops.
The all-time boom year for passenger car production was however, not many years ago, but in 1954, when a total of 218 steel coaches were constructed for the Canadian National, concurrent with a heavy volume of freight car work. So heavy was the demand for new passenger equipment in that year, that an additional order for 141 sleepers, diners and parlour cars had to be placed with Pullman-Standard in the United States.
About 1957 control of the Canadian Car Co., Limited or "Can-Car", as it had by then become known, passed to A.V. Roe Canada Limited, a branch of the large British aircraft concern of the same name, which was seeking to diversify its interests.
A short time thereafter, A.V. Roe also acquired control of Dominion Steel & Coal Corporation, which is the parent company of Eastern Car Company Limited, of Trenton, N.S., a large freight car building plant whose history dates from 1912.
Then commenced an unusual situation in which two rival car building plants having a common ownership fought each other for business in a market already seriously constricted by tightened railway purchasing budgets.
The obvious solution was to close one plant and the decision fell against the largest of the two — Can-Car. The remaining plant, Eastern Car Company Limited is close to the Corporation's steel producing centre, Sydney, and is also part of an industrial complex owned by the Corporation in and around New Glasgow, N.S.
Thus, one of the strongest firms in the industry has, by an accident of fate, been eliminated, at least from railway car building activity. And this is all the more galling when one considers that some $21 millions were expended on improvements to its magnificent Montreal plant just two years before the last car was produced in it.
The company, which is now a division of Hawker Siddeley (Canada) Ltd., a large British aircraft concern and holding company which has taken over A.V. Roe, also ceased producing motor buses and coaches at its Fort William plant in April 1962.
Its Amherst plant, after being only on sporadic production since 1919, was finally closed entirely in 1931, and is now the rolling mill division of Enamel & Heating Products Ltd., Sackville, N.B.
The Pratt & Letchworth division at Brantford, Ontario, which was never a car building facility, was closed after the Second World War, and the plant razed.
The Welland division was sold soon after its acquisition, to Page-Hershey Tubes Ltd., who are now operating on its location. No cars were ever produced at this division, it being a rolling mill and foundry plant exclusively.
The Longue Point foundry is still being operated under the name of Canadian Steel Foundries Limited, which is a unit of the Hawker Siddeley organization.
The Turcot plant was closed and sold in 1958, and the new owner has sublet parts of it to a wide variety of industries.
The main, or Dominion plant of the company at Ville St. Pierre, Montreal, is now used temporarily for storage purposes by outside firms, and is for sale. The last cars were produced in it in 1961. These were tank cars for the company's subsidiary, Canadian General Transit Co., which has now moved its operations to a new shop of its own at Riviere des Prairies, near Montreal.
This company was established at Hamilton, Ont. in July 1912 by interests affiliated with the Magor Car Corporation, Clifton, New Jersey, with which firm the company was for many years closely affiliated. Its authorized capital was $6,000,000.
Its head office was established at Montreal, the original directors being Sir John Gibson, William Southam and J.J. Scott of Hamilton; Sir Henry M. Pellatt of Toronto; W.G. Ross, C.H. Cahan, Mortimer Davis and Basil Magor of Montreal, and W.B. Parsons, W.K. Brice and M.H. Coggeshall of New York City. The company's first General Manager was Basil Magor, who had previously been connected with the Dominion Car & Foundry Co., Montreal, and with the Magor Car Co., Passiac, N.J.
The company's prospectus pointed out that the then existing car building facilities in Canada were inadequate to supply the railways' growing demands, and that existing plants were behind in their orders and that a large number of cars were of necessity being imported from the United States despite a heavy customs duty.
As a large portion of the materials used in building freight cars were of necessity imported from Pittsburgh and the Mississippi valley, Hamilton was selected as the best point for manufacturing and it was claimed that the saving in freight should, when the plant was working to 60% capacity, equal three-quarters of the preferred dividend.
Based upon the earnings of the car plants in Canada and the U.S., and the actual earnings of the Magor Car Co. of Passaic, N.J. in particular, and without taking into consideration the advantageous location of the new plant, the following estimated earnings in the average year were submitted by the management for a capacity of 30 cars a day or 9,000 a year. Average operation 60% of capacity. On 5,400 cars an average profit of 8% on gross business would be $400,000. 7% preference stock dividend $105,000. Available for common stock dividend $295,000 or 14.75% on the common stock.
It was further pointed out that in 1908, previous to the Canadian Car & Foundry Co. merger, the Canada Car Co. at Turcot with a daily capacity of 25 cars, showed earnings of over $445,000, and the Dominion Car & Foundry Co. with a capacity of 30 cars, earned over $414,000. It was therefore estimated that in order to be able to cover the preferred dividend it would be necessary for the new company to earn but slightly more than a quarter of $400,000, which was well within the minimum earnings which the management anticipated even in years of serious depression.
The new Hamilton plant was accordingly built to designs of Barclay, Parsons & Klapp of New York, and the first few years of operation amply justified the expectations of its founders. Its establishment came at a time just before all-time annual highs in Canadian rolling stock orders were reached in the years 1913. Consequently, the firm started off well with large box car orders from the Canadian Pacific and Canadian Northern, and even an order for about 1,200 cars of various types from a local road, the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo.
Its first passenger equipment — a series of ten Grand Trunk baggage cars — was built in 1914. The following year brought 15 baggage cars and five first class coaches for the Canadian Northern.
In 1916 however, came a real first — eight all-steel sleeping cars of the "V" series for the Canadian Government Railways — the first all-steel passenger cars to be constructed by any Canadian custom car builder.
The company has also taken electric street and interurban car orders when the opportunity offered, and in its first year of operation completed six interurban cars, two trailers and two freight motors for the Montreal & Southern Counties Railway, a subsidiary of the Grand Trunk.
In 1918 it also built the bodies for 17 electric steeple-cab type locomotives for the Ontario Hydro's Chippewa-Queenston Power Canal construction railway. At the conclusion of this job, these were widely dispersed among several Canadian electric roads and heavy industries.
The firm also built 48 steel street cars in 1927-29 for their native city of Hamilton, and four more for use in Saskatoon. Finally, in 1947, they built Grand River Railway combination passenger and baggage motor car 626, the last new interurban car ever built in Canada, and probably the last new one built for service anywhere in North America.
The company has built a large number of passenger cars for the Canadian National, though most of these have been baggage and express cars, and other forms of "head end" equipment. Passenger train cars built for the Canadian National presently total 763.
It has also built 415 passenger cars for the Canadian Pacific, but most of these were supplied to Angus Shops for finishing, as "frames". Passenger cars supplied to the C.P.R. by National Steel Car include some of the first lightweight steel passenger cars ever built in Canada, constructed at Hamilton in 1936.
The plant has always been pre-eminent in freight car production, in which field of course, the most important part of the market lies, and in many years National Steel Car has run about "neck-and-neck" with the Canadian Car & Foundry Co. in this type of production.
The curse of the railway car building industry, and indeed of the whole railway supply field, is its "feast or famine" nature. As a consequence, railway car building plants like National Steel Car have often had to weather long periods of lean times when there was little or no return on invested capital.
Lacking the diversification of some of the other firms in the industry, National Steel Car suffered more than most through lack of orders through the depression period of the 1930s. At one stage it turned to making motor trucks and bus bodies, and later, during the depression, to manufacturing outboard motor boats.
However, World War II brought renewed activity, and the plant has continued on a fairly good basis down to the present day. It now shares with Eastern Car Company most of the freight car orders originating in Canada, and has also occasionally been active on export orders.
In 1919 an offer to purchase the company was made by Donald Symington of the T.H. Symington Co., Baltimore, and Robert Magor, president of the Magor Car Corporation. The company was thereupon reorganized as National Steel Car Corporation Limited.
The most important event in its recent history has been its acquisition, in 1962, by Dominion Foundries & Steel Limited, one of the two large Hamilton steel firms, whose works adjoin those of National Steel Car, and who needed the company chiefly for its real estate.
An affiliation with Stanton Pipes (Canada) Limited, of England, wherein this firm's cast water pipe is now manufactured in National Steel Car's plant, has also provided a very salutary step in the company's program of diversification.
This company was not a car builder, and is included in this record only because it may be presumed by some to have been so.
The company was the holder of valuable patents on a self-clearing ballast car which could be used as an ordinary gondola car when not required in ballast service. These ballast cars could be arranged to dump between the rails, or outside of the rails, and were used in conjunction with a Lidgerwood ballast unloader car and a Rodger ballast plow car or Jordan spreader.
The Lidgerwood unloader consisted of a large steam-operated winch drum, supplied with steam by the adjacent locomotive. From this drum a long cable paid out over the entire ballast train, and was attached to a large ballast plow situated in the last car of the train. These ballast plows were of three types — right hand, left hand, and centre plows, the latter forcing the ballast out both sides of the cars, and the previous two out either one side or the other.
When the train had arrived at the dumping area, the Lidgerwood operator commenced winding the cable in on the drum of his machine, thus pulling the ballast plow through the cars toward himself and forcing the ballast out th sides of the cars, and between them in the process. Hart convertible cars had removable ends, and these of course were all removed when used with a Lidgerwood, so as to allow the ballast plow to move through the train unobstructed.
These Hart convertible cars, as they were called, first appeared in Canada in 1905, and had a very wide sale among the railways who were expanding their systems at this period, and also among the railway contractors. They were sold in Canada by the Hart-Otis Car Co., but almost invariably were built by the Canada Car Co. Turcot plant at Montreal, which later became a division of the Canadian Car & Foundry Co.
In the United States they were sold by the Rodger Ballast Car Co. of Chicago, and built under license by various U.S. car builders.
Many of these Hart ballast cars are still in service today, though there are becoming an increasing rarity. Much more common is its sister car, the Otis self-clearing gondola car, which, being a steel car, is extensively used in ore and coal service in this country, particularly on the C.P.R., which used them almost to the exclusion of standard hopper cars until about 1935, and still has thousands on its roster.
This firm, almost wholly a manufacturer of street and interurban cars, was founded in 1893 by Ahearn & Soper, large electric apparatus dealers of Ottawa, who between 1891 and 1904 were agents in Canada for the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co., Pittsburgh.
The parent firm of Ahearn & Soper had been originally formed in 1881, as dealers in electrical supplies. Mr. Thomas Ahearn, the senior partner, was at that time manager of the local Bell Telephone exchange, and had previously been an operator with the Western Union Telegraph Co. Mr. Warren Y. Soper, the junior partner, was at one time manager of the Dominion Telegraph Co., and in 1881 was local Ottawa manager for the Canada Mutual Telegraph Co. Both had been playmates in boyhood.
In 1883 the firm made its first installation of arc lighting apparatus in an Ottawa lumber mill, and at about the same time it installed a 100-light incandescent system at the University of Ottawa. Thenceforth, their energies were directed to enlarging their supply business and also to contract work on a much larger scale.
In 1883 the firm undertook large contracts for the construction of telephone and telegraph lines in all parts of Canada. This work was followed until 1891, when the firm's lighting, railway and manufacturing interests had become so large that the less profitable work was given up.
In 1887 Ahearn & Soper determined to obtain some share of the lighting business of Ottawa, in spite of the strongly entrenched position of the gas light company, which held a monopoly of both gas and electric lighting within the city limits. They established a 250-light Weston multiple series plant in Hull, across the river from Ottawa; obtained pole privileges in Ottawa itself and thus forced their way into the business to such an extent that, in 1894, through a consolidation of the three electric lighting firms serving Ottawa, as the Ottawa Electric Company, they secured a controlling interest in the electric lighting system of the city.
When, in 1891, Ahearn & Soper took on the Westinghouse agency for Canada, this event precipitated them into the electric railway supply business. This was just at the start of the great "boom" in the conversion of horse railways into electric railways and the building of new street and interurban electric railways.
With characteristic energy, Ahearn & Soper moved into this field, and by 1904, when they lost the agency due to the Westinghouse Company setting up its own Canadian plant and sales organization at Hamilton, they had captured better than half of this lucrative market from their competitors, General Electric.
Their practice was to contract, wherever possible, on the complete equipping of new electric railways or converted horse car lines. This involved the supply and installation of power station equipment, stringing of trolley wire, and the supply of traction motors for the cars, if not also the cars themselves.
It was for this latter purpose that their subsidiary, the Ottawa Car Co. Ltd. was formed in 1893. It had its origin in an alliance with William W. Wylie, the owner of a carriage factory at the corner of Kent and Slater Streets in Ottawa, who forthwith became Superintendent and part owner of the newly formed car company, turning over his plant to the business.
Ahearn & Soper had just purchased the local Ottawa horse car lines and were busy converting them to electrical operation, so the first products of the car plant were for local use. Standard single truck open and closed cars of the period were built, though the first electric cras in the city of Ottawa were constructed by another builder, Patterson & Corbin, of St. Catharines, Ontario.
Before commencing production, it was felt that the Ottawa Car Company should have a model to work from at close range. The very best one was found and shipped to Ottawa, consisting of the J.G. Brill Company's exhibit at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 — a standard single truck closed car, bought by Thomas Ahearn at the fair for his Ottawa Electric Railway. To the end of electric railway days in Ottawa, it remained the one and only piece of Brill equipment ever acquired by the line, and became the prototype for hundreds of Canadian-made street cars since built.
Two years later, the car plant had a capacity of 50 cars per annum, and its entire productive capacity was taken up. After supplying over 50 cars to its native Ottawa, the plant commenced building for outside centres. In 1894 it produced the first Canadian-made interurban cars for the Hamilton, Grimsby & Beamsville, and two years later settled on several more or less standard designs which were to characterise most of its products for the next decade.
Most distinctive of these was that for a heavy double truck interurban car with narrow transomed windows and five window vestibules, the first one of which was built for the Hamilton Radial Electric Railway in 1896. The next was for a large double truck open car which was the summer companion to the cars above, and suited to either suburban or interurban service.
In the city car field, the original single truck open and closed models held sway until 1903 when a new double truck city car design was instituted on an order of five cars for the London Street Railway.
The transfer of the Westinghouse agency to the Canadian Westinghouse Co. in 1904 took away much of the diversification in the Ahearn & Soper organization, but they still retained the Ottawa Car Company, all of which had been built up through their early efforts, and they steadily set to work to improve these facilities.
The Ottawa Electric Railway Co. always was regarded in the industry as an excellent and progressive system, and in a large part the reason for this was that it served as an operating model for car designs and equipment being sold by the Ottawa Car Company, and as such was a sort of "showcase" for visiting electric railway officials.
The steam railway sidings from which the products of the Ottawa Car Co. were shipped were a considerable distance removed from the plant, and it was commonplace to see strange and disproportionate pieces of new rolling stock built for far-away cities moving in between regular Ottawa street cars, or being given running tests on open stretches of the O.E.R.'s Britannia suburban line.
In 1908 the company built its first convertible street cars, the experimental units of which were first used in Ottawa before being sold elsewhere.
In 1910 it built its first steel cars — the 901-class cars for the Montreal Tramways Company.
The company was not slow to diversify, and always had its finger on the pulse of the electric railway industry. In the First World War, it built hundreds of field kitchens for the Canadian armed forces in France. Following the conflict, it was very early in the field of motor bus body building, and the manufacture of bus seating and trimmings.
Following the withdrawal of the Brill organization from Canada in 1922, he Ottawa Car Company acquired Canadian manufacturing rights on Brill gasoline motor and gas-electric cars for steam railways, and turned out a fair number of such units between 1924 and 1932 for the Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and other shorter Canadian steam railways.
In the period about 1928 the company instituted some new city near designs which had a wide sale, and its most notable contributions at this period were the Edmonton steel centre exit cars built in 1930, and the series of excellent steel interurban cars built for the Windsor, Essex & Lake Shore in 1928.
The depression, and the period of "bustitution" which attended it, had their inevitable effects at the Ottawa Car Co., but it somehow managed to keep going on a reduced scale throughout this trying period, on bus and truck body work.
In the Second World War, the company was reorganized as the Ottawa Car & Aircraft Limited, and launched into the large-scale manufacture of aircraft components. This business too, ended with the close of the war, and the company once more reverted to the doldrums, and by now had virtually ceased to have any connection with the railway field, except in name. Not a single car had been built since 1933.
The Ahearn family were still in control, and they also still controlled the Ottawa Electric Railway Co., though negotiations were under way to sell this latter company to the City of Ottawa, who planned to set up the Ottawa Transportation Comission to operate it.
Months before the sale of the railway to the city went through, the Ottawa Car Company produced four city street cars for the Ottawa Electric Railway. These were equipped with trucks and herringbone geared motors bought from the Third Avenue Railway System, New York, and controls, air brakes and door engines bought from this writer, who was scrapping the street railway of the neighbouring city of Hull at the time.
These cars were the last production of the Ottawa Car Company, and among the last street cars, other than P.C.C. cars, built anywhere in America. With their building, the Ottawa Car Company is said to have spanned the entire history of the electric railway industry in Canada, from its earliest beginnings to its inglorious end.
Months after producing these cars, the Ahearn family sold the Ottawa Electric Railway Co. to the City of Ottawa, and the Ottawa Car & Aircraft Corporation to the Mailman Corporation, a holding company controlled by a financial group interested in several other light manufacturing industries in the Ottawa valley area. Very shortly afterward, the plant was closed and the assets liquidated.
In 1891, the Edison General Electric Company moved its works from Sherbrook, Que. to Peterborough and opened their first large shop building there on April 20th of that year.
On May 16, 1892, the Edison General Electric Company and the Thompson-Houston Company, previously competitors, amalgamated under the name Canadian General Electric Co., Ltd.
As the year was one in which most Canadian horse car lines either were converting, or were preparing to convert their systems to electric operation, the firm launched immediately into the business of completely equipping electric railways with power plant equipment, traction motors and car bodies.
Then ensued a period in which the traditional competitors, General Electric and Westinghouse — the latter represented by Ahearn & Soper ot Offawa, owners of the Ottawa Car Co., battled each other for the major share of the electric railway market.
The aim of both firms was to sell, if possible, a "package deal" involving completely equipping each railway. Some early Canadian street railways bought equipment from both companies, but most for the sake of stnadardization ranged themselves with one camp or the other, from which most or all their subsequent purchases were acquired.
General Electric's success in completely equipping electric railways in Canada included the cities of Berlin (now Kitchener), Brantford, Kingston, Guelph, Peterborough and Hull. They were also successful on the Montreal Terminal Railway, which operated between that city and Bout de l'Ille.
Westinghouse successes were somewhat more widespread, and, though a tremendous amount of C.G.E. apparatus was sold during the heyday of the Canadian electric railway industry, it probably is a truism that Westinghouse apparatus outsold it.
In any case, Canadian General Electric did not continue building electric railway cars for very long. From a commencement in 1892, their last production in the field was in 1901, when they finished the last of several orders for the Hull Electric Company, of Hull, Que.
They of course continued to furnish motor and control equipment to owners and builders of electric cars after this date, and still do today.
In 1908, Canadian General Electric Co. in conjunction with their affiliate, the Canada Foundry Co. Ltd., whose works were at Davenport Road and Lansdowne Road in Toronto built an electric locomotive for the Shawinigan Falls Terminal Railway, and on several occasions since, C.G.E. and their American parent company have co-operated in furnishing electric locomotives to Canadian lines, notably the London & Port Stanley Railway and the Canadian Northern's Mount Royal Tunnel electrification at Montreal.
Canadian General Electric Co. today acts as sales agents in Canada for the railway products of its U.S. parent, the General Electric Company of Schenectady, N.Y. and Erie, Pa.
This firm was one of the earliest and most prolific of the electric street car builders of Canada. During their period in this field, ranging over the ten years from 1887 to 1897, their products were shipped to such far away points as Yarmouth, N.S. and Victoria, B.C.
The firm were carriage builders in St. Catharines as early as 1865 and probably prior, and the partners were George E. Patterson and William W.V. Corbin. The plant location was a 6 Queenston Street, on the south side, between Geneva and Calvin Streets.
In 1874, Mr. William Corbin was in partnership with George Wales as Wales & Corbin, carriage builders at 10 Court Street, St. Catharines. George E. Patterson was at this period in business for himself, in the same field, in the same city. By 1887 Mr. Corbin was also in business for himself, and it was shortly after that date that the partnership appears to have been established between Patterson & Corbin.
This firm built some of the horse cars of the St. Catharines Street Railway, and also built the bodies for the first experimental Van Depoele system electric cars in St. Catharines, which was a city in which some of the earliest electric railway developments in Canaada took place.
In 1889 they supplied 12 cars to Victoria, B.C. — the first in that western city, and in 1891 they supplied the first electric cars to Ottawa, to a company whose proprietors were shortly to start a car building bueiness of their own which was to outlast most others.
Another extremely large customer for Patterson & Corbin cars was the Niagara Falls Park & River Railway, which was completed from Queenston to Niagara Falls and Chippewa in the mid-nineties. For them Patterson & Corbin built practically all their original equipment, most of which was destroyed by fire some years later. This included ten special double truck cars with longitudinal seats raised in tiers one above the other in the manner of the "bleachers", on which passengers were treated to a continuous view of the Niagara River as the car proceeded from Queenston to Chippawa and return. The entire group was destroyed by fire when the railway's Whirlpool car barn burned in the winter of 1906.
Other large customers for Patterson & Corbin products were the London Street Railway and the Toronto Suburban Railway. The street railways of Port Arthur, Kingston and Peterborough also received a few cars.
The largest cars ever produced by the firm were three double truck interurban cars for the Hamilton Radial Electric Railway, which were delivered in 1896.
Car production appears to have ceased in 1897 and the reason for this is as yet unknown. In any case Mr. Patterson was dead by this year, and Mr. Corbin was apparently carrying on alone. The writer has heard stories to the effect that their Master Car Builder and other key employees were lured away by one of the other builders — possibly the Ottawa Car Co. or the Canadian General Electric Co. If so, the firm in question effectively eliminated further competition from Patterson & Corbin, who for an important decade in the electric railway industry held a large segment of its car building market.
Dennis Gannon adds that George Patterson did not die in 1897, but in fact moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, engaged in business there until about 1922, and died in Pasadena, California, in 1927. He also notes that William Corbin died in 1900. In support of this he offers the following obituaries:
(UP) George E. Patterson, 88, builder of the world's first electric street car, died today in Pasadena, California, a message received at St. Catherine's today said. He established a carriage building business here in 1874 and later constructed horse cars, one of which was converted into an electric car and operated between St. Catherine's and Thorold in 1887. Thirty years ago he went to Philadelphia, where he was engaged in the manufacture of electrical equipment until his retirement five years ago.
New York Times, June 13, 1927
From St. Catherines, Ontario
Builder of First Electric Car Dies
(UP) George E. Patterson, 88, builder of the world's first electric street car, died today in Pasadena, California, a message received at St. Catherine's today said. He established a carriage building business here in 1874 and later constructed horse cars, one of which was converted into an electric car and operated between St. Catherine's and Thorold in 1887. Thirty years ago he went to Philadelphia, where he was engaged in the manufacture of electrical equipment until his retirement five years ago.
(UP) The body of George Patterson, builder of the first trolley car operated in America forty years ago, will be borne to Victoria Lawn Cemetery in an electric funeral car on Sunday, after it arrives from Pasadena, where he died. The Odd Fellows, of which order he had been a member for sixty-two years, will have charge of the arrangements. There will be a uniformed guard provided by the Patriarchs Militant of Niagara Falls, New York.
New York Times, June 18, 1927
To Honor Trolley Pioneer in Death
St. Catharines, Ontario, June 17
(UP) The body of George Patterson, builder of the first trolley car operated in America forty years ago, will be borne to Victoria Lawn Cemetery in an electric funeral car on Sunday, after it arrives from Pasadena, where he died. The Odd Fellows, of which order he had been a member for sixty-two years, will have charge of the arrangements. There will be a uniformed guard provided by the Patriarchs Militant of Niagara Falls, New York.
The citizens of St. Catharines yesterday in spite of the rainy weather turned out in large numbers to pay their final respects to George E. Patterson, a former fellow citizen, who has made his name famous as builder of the first electric street car in America. The cars ran on the local line built by the late Dr. Ollie between St. Catharines and Thorold. While the funeral was in the nature of a public tribune to one who was esteemed and honoured by those who knew him years ago, there was a double honor in the independent Oddfellows buried one of the oldest members of the Order in Canada. George Patterson joined Union Lodge N. 16, of this city over 61 years ago and had remained afiliated with it ever since. He was also a member of St. George's Masonic Lodge of this city for many years. Mr. Patterson had attended First Presbyterian Church for over a quarter of a century and it was fitting that the pastor, Rev. J.A. Pue-Gilchrist, should conduct the burial services. The casket arrived from Pasadena, California early in the morning, and was taken to McIntyre's undertaking rooms where in the chapel many viewed for the last time the well known features. Mr. Patterson had been one of the St. Catharines men on active service during the Fenian raid of 1866 and recognition of this a large Union Jack covered the casket. There were also many beautiful flowers from relatives and from friends and from Union and Empire Lodges, I.O.O.F. and St. George's Lodge, A.F. & A.M. Some old time associates of the deceased were present at the services conducted by the Rev. Pue-Gilchrist at McIntyre's and took a last look at the face of their friend. The services were short and simple. The casket was then carried out to the waiting funeral car of the Canadian National Electric Railways and placed in position, while the St. Catharines Concert Band, under Gerald Saul, solemnly played the Dead March in Saul. Twenty-four senior Past Grands, twelve from Empire and Union Lodges each, acted as escort. Owing to the weather, the Niagara Falls, N.Y. Patriarchs Militant were not present. Headed by the Concert Band, the procession moved off up St. Paul Street, to slow time, the Oddfellows on foot, and many autos following. Street cars were provided for the Oddfellows at Thorold Road. At the Victoria Lawn Cemetery, the Concert Band again led the procession as the casket was conveyed to the Patterson plot. The band played "Nearer My God to Thee" and Noble Grand William Overholtn of Union Lodge and Past Grand Allan Darragh, acting chaplain, of Empire Lodge, read the commitment services. Rev. Mr. Pue-Gilchrist conducted the religious services. At the close, all the Oddfellows marched past the casket and placed their funeral badges of red and black and a sprig of evergreen, upon it. The red represented the Scarlet Degree, and the black the mourning for the dead brother. The chief mourners were: E.G. Patterson, son of the deceased, and his three sons, from Petersboro. The honorary bearers were: Judge J.S. Campbell, J.D. Chaplain, M.P., E.C. Graves, M.P.P., Mayor Jacob Smith, Andrew Riddell and J.C. Haight, the latter representing the Canadian National Electric Railways. The active bearers were: Charles Chapman, F.W. Todd, N.J.M. Lockhart, representing the Grand Lodge, I.O.O.F., W.S. Duffin, P.D., D.G.M., P.G. George, E. Jones, and Frank E. McCoy, who was a lifelong friend of Mr. Patterson. The funeral car yesterday was driven by the oldest motorman in the service of the N.S. and T., Mr. Neil O'Mara, who was a contemporary with Mr. Patterson, when he put into operation the first street car in this district. Mr. O'Mara is still a motorman, one of the most dependable in the company's service and has been continously at work since the early eighties of the last century. He is employed now at the N.S. and T. in special service trips. He was placed in charge of the funeral service car yesterday in tribute to the inventor and as an honor due his long service with the company.
Obituary of George Patterson
St. Catharines Standard, June 20th, 1927
BUILDER OF FIRST ELECTRIC CAR BORNE BY RAIL TO GRAVE
Extraordinary Tribute Paid to Late George E. Patterson
Highly Honored by Odd Fellows
Annual Decoration Day Ceremony Follows the Funeral Obsequies
The citizens of St. Catharines yesterday in spite of the rainy weather turned out in large numbers to pay their final respects to George E. Patterson, a former fellow citizen, who has made his name famous as builder of the first electric street car in America. The cars ran on the local line built by the late Dr. Ollie between St. Catharines and Thorold.
While the funeral was in the nature of a public tribune to one who was esteemed and honoured by those who knew him years ago, there was a double honor in the independent Oddfellows buried one of the oldest members of the Order in Canada. George Patterson joined Union Lodge N. 16, of this city over 61 years ago and had remained afiliated with it ever since. He was also a member of St. George's Masonic Lodge of this city for many years.
Mr. Patterson had attended First Presbyterian Church for over a quarter of a century and it was fitting that the pastor, Rev. J.A. Pue-Gilchrist, should conduct the burial services.
The casket arrived from Pasadena, California early in the morning, and was taken to McIntyre's undertaking rooms where in the chapel many viewed for the last time the well known features. Mr. Patterson had been one of the St. Catharines men on active service during the Fenian raid of 1866 and recognition of this a large Union Jack covered the casket. There were also many beautiful flowers from relatives and from friends and from Union and Empire Lodges, I.O.O.F. and St. George's Lodge, A.F. & A.M.
Some old time associates of the deceased were present at the services conducted by the Rev. Pue-Gilchrist at McIntyre's and took a last look at the face of their friend. The services were short and simple. The casket was then carried out to the waiting funeral car of the Canadian National Electric Railways and placed in position, while the St. Catharines Concert Band, under Gerald Saul, solemnly played the Dead March in Saul. Twenty-four senior Past Grands, twelve from Empire and Union Lodges each, acted as escort. Owing to the weather, the Niagara Falls, N.Y. Patriarchs Militant were not present.
Headed by the Concert Band, the procession moved off up St. Paul Street, to slow time, the Oddfellows on foot, and many autos following. Street cars were provided for the Oddfellows at Thorold Road.
At the Victoria Lawn Cemetery, the Concert Band again led the procession as the casket was conveyed to the Patterson plot. The band played "Nearer My God to Thee" and Noble Grand William Overholtn of Union Lodge and Past Grand Allan Darragh, acting chaplain, of Empire Lodge, read the commitment services. Rev. Mr. Pue-Gilchrist conducted the religious services.
At the close, all the Oddfellows marched past the casket and placed their funeral badges of red and black and a sprig of evergreen, upon it. The red represented the Scarlet Degree, and the black the mourning for the dead brother.
The chief mourners were: E.G. Patterson, son of the deceased, and his three sons, from Petersboro. The honorary bearers were: Judge J.S. Campbell, J.D. Chaplain, M.P., E.C. Graves, M.P.P., Mayor Jacob Smith, Andrew Riddell and J.C. Haight, the latter representing the Canadian National Electric Railways. The active bearers were: Charles Chapman, F.W. Todd, N.J.M. Lockhart, representing the Grand Lodge, I.O.O.F., W.S. Duffin, P.D., D.G.M., P.G. George, E. Jones, and Frank E. McCoy, who was a lifelong friend of Mr. Patterson.
The funeral car yesterday was driven by the oldest motorman in the service of the N.S. and T., Mr. Neil O'Mara, who was a contemporary with Mr. Patterson, when he put into operation the first street car in this district. Mr. O'Mara is still a motorman, one of the most dependable in the company's service and has been continously at work since the early eighties of the last century. He is employed now at the N.S. and T. in special service trips. He was placed in charge of the funeral service car yesterday in tribute to the inventor and as an honor due his long service with the company.
The Preston Car & Coach Co. was an anomoly among Canadian railway car builders of this century in that they devoted their attentions exclusively to building passenger equipment. To this day they are better remembered in the electric railway car production field than in steam railway passenger cars, for that is the field in which their principal efforts always lay.
The firm commenced business in the year 1908 adjacent to the tracks of the Galt, Preston & Hespeler Railway electric line in Preston, and its first cars built were six large interurbans for the South Western Traction Company, the pioneer electric line operating between London and Port Stanley, Ontario. In the same year they secured an order for four baggage cars from the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway (now Ontario Northland).
They then embarked on a course of soliciting steam and electric passenger car orders exclusively, and judging from their products, there is little doubt that they were very competent at building them; usually lending to their designs something that gave their products a definite Preston "character".
Records show that they built 33 passenger cars of various types for the Intercolonial Railway; 56 for the Canadian Northern, 8 for the Algoma Central and five for the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario, including the latter's flamboyant private car SIR JAMES, which was built in 1910 as an all-wood car but has since been steel sheathed; given a steel underframe and been renamed MOOSONEE.
In the field of stree car production they were much more prolific however, and between the years 1908 and 1922 they shared with the Ottawa Car Company most of the street car manufacturing business of Canada, with occasional interference from the Canadian Car & Foundry Co., trading on its Montreal location, and by National Steel Car.
In the field of interurban cars, Preston's most significant contributions have been the splendid arched window wooden cars it built for the Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto, the Hamilton Radial railways, the Nipissing Central and the Galt, Preston & Hespeler and Preston & Berlin Railways.
Their closest approach to building freight equipment was a group of cabooses turned out for the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario. Even these were equipped with modified passenger trucks with plate type equalizers.
In 1916 the Preston Car & Coach Company secured the Canadian sales agency for an early type of gasoline motor passenger car designed for branch line service, and secured a "demonstrator" car from their principals in the United States, which they turned over to the Toronto & York Radial Railway for trials on their Schomberg & Aurora branch. The trials met with only indifferent success and the car was returned to Preston for modifications early in January, 1917.
It was an event which boded ill for Preston because a short circuit late at night in this car caused a fire which burned down the entire plant, and in addition, destroyed three new all-steel sleeping cars just completed for the Canadian Government Railways which were waiting outside for final inspection and acceptance the next day by the purchasers.
Also destroyed were two new Witt type interurban cars stored in the building for the Toronto Suburban Railway, and one double truck open car which had been sent to Preston for rebuilding by the Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto Railway.
The plant was rebuilt as quickly as possible, but not before the Canadian Government Railways sleeping car order has been regretfully transferred to Pullman who both built the replacement cars and completed the remainder of the order beside.
In 1918 the plant turned out steel street cars for the Toronto Civic Railway and the Brantford Municipal Railway, but on September 1, 1921, was leased by the J.G. Brill Company of Philadelphia, famed street and electric railway car builders of the United States.
The reason for this was that the Toronto Transportation Commission was about to embark on the complete rehabilitation of Toronto's street railway system, which it had just acquired from private interests. It was obvious that hundreds of new cars would be needed, and the T.T.C. had issued a statement to the effect that orders for these would be placed only with Canadian car builders.
By their lease of the facilities at Preston, Brill made themselves eligible to receive the orders and forthwith renamed their acquisition the Canadian Brill Company Limited.
At this point Mr. Don M. Campbell, long the general manager of the Preston Car & Coach Company, left the employ of the firm and entered the second-hand electric railway equipment business, which he conducted until his death with some success. With his leaving, the company lost much of its goodwill in the Canadian electric railway industry, and it succeeded in obtaining only a small part of the huge Toronto street car orders.
As the Canadian Brill Company, the firm no longer solicited steam railway passenger car business, but busied itself with promoting and building the Birney safety street car, of which it sold groups to Victoria, Sault Ste. Marie, Levis, Winnipeg, Guelph and Windsor.
But with the "main chance" — the hope of the huge Toronto order gone, Brill quickly lost interest in their Preston plant. No other large street car orders were in sight, and the market potential in Canada in the electric railway field was even then not considered great enough to warrant continued operation of a plant devoted exclusively to the street car manufacturing business.
Accordingly, after completion of the last Birney cars, the plant closed its doors on October 31, 1922.
This firm had a very brief history, and was formed by former employees of the Preston Car & Coach Co., Preston, Ont., who were apparently hopeful that they could duplicate the successful experience of that firm in the then-burgeoning electric railway car market.
Only three orders were ever handled; the first, in 1913, being for two freight motor cars for the Hamilton, Grimsby & Beamsville. This was half of a requirement for four, the other two of which were built by Preston.
The following year the firm built two large and handsome interurban cars for the Windsor, Essex & Lake Shore Rapid Railway, and twelve small single truck street cars for the Saint John Railway, Saint John, N.B.
It is believed the firm failed through lack of orders and insufficient capitalization
This company was one of the larger carriage and stagecoach builders of Ontario in the 1880s and 1890s.
They were later reorganized as the St. Charles & Pringle Co. and in 1893 built a large number of single truck open and closed cars for the Montreal Street Railway, shortly after its electrification.
Only one other car order is known — that of a single open car for the Toronto & Scarboro Railway. It is possible however, that this firm produced horse cars prior to its entry in the electric car production field in 1893.
As its name implies, the firm always specialized in hotel stages, and various other forms of horse-drawn vehicles and sleighs. It is likely that their brief period of electric car production constitutated a foray into an unfamiliar field at a particularly appropriate time, and that they did little to cultivate further orders in this market following upon their Montreal adventure.
The brothers Noel and Adolphe Lariviere were carriage builders whose shop was situated at 74 St. Antoine Street, Montreal, a short distance west of Inspector Street. The personal home of each were situated either side of their place of bueiness.
It is believed that an interest in this business was held by Alphonse A.C. Lariviere, owner of Lariviere & Co., retail hardware merchants, with stores at 287 St. Paul St. and 6 to 14 St. Gabriel St., Montreal. This latter business also passed out of existence some years ago.
Also affiliated with this business was that of Lariviere & Dube, manufacturers of mouldings. This latter business was carried on at the same location as the Lariviere car building and carriage shop.
A.C.A. Lariviere was engaged in carriage building in Montreal as early as 1850. The shop at this period was at 5 Wolfe Street, and it is probable that the Larivieres who came later were his descendants.
The firm did not engage in building street cars until the mid-1880s however, when the brothers turned their hand to producing some horse car bodies and sleighs for the Montreal Street Railway, and they added to the car stock of that company steadily until the end of the horse car era.
In 1892, when the horse railways of Montreal were electrified, we find them building car bodies for some of the city's first open electric street cars, and a year or two later, large numbers of Montreal Street Railway single truck closed cars also.
During its existence as a car builder — roughly from 1886 until 1903, most of the firm's production was for use in and around its native Montreal, although in 1899 it supplied some of the first street cars in Cornwall, Ont., and the following year, the first ones in St. John's, Nfld.
In 1902 it supplied one car to the Waterloo-Wellington Railway (Berlin & Bridgeport) and in 1903 a series of five large double truck convertible cars to the London Street Railway, London, Ont.
Car production ceased in 1903, and it is believed the company ceased business at that time. Later, certain members of the Lariviere family were in the retail hardware business in Montreal, but this organization too, has since passed away.
This company were agents in Montreal for Reo motor cars, trucks and buses, and interested themselves in supplying the needs of Canadian railways for gasoline motor rail car equipment in the years 1921 to 1923.
Its first product was Canadian National 501 (later 15811) which was used for some time on the Brockville to Westport branch in Ontario. This was a self-propelled car very much resembling a motor bus of that day, but equipped with railway wheels. The driving force was provided by a standard Reo bus engine.
In 1922 three somewhat improved cars were furnished to the Canadian National, and one car each to the Canadian Pacific and Quebec Central.
In 1923 a group of three more or less similar cars were furnished to the Quebec, Montreal & Southern. After this road was taken over by the Canadian National in 1929, these cars were sold to the Temiscouata Railway.
On the whole, these primitive self-propelled passenger cars did not have long or successful lives. They were an early effort on the part of our railways to cut expenses on branch line services without completely eliminating these services. As we have now seen, these efforts were neither very successful in the main, nor were the agencies through which it was hoped to achieve this objective too reliable. They did however, represent the first inroads of the internal combustion engine into the field of revenue train operation.
This firm, which since 1934 has been increasingly active as a shipyard and dredging contractor, gained great impetus in World War II as a builder of cargo ships and war vessels.
As is common with shipyards everywhere, their plant was subject to cycles of high and low activity. During one of these low cycles some years ago, the thoughts of the management turned to manufacturing railway cars and they took orders from the Canadian National for flat cars, covered hopper cars and express refrigerator cars, all of which were produced to the customer's satisfaction.
The plate shops of large shipbuilding companies adapt very well to railway car production, as the production facilities are similar in most respects, with of course, certain essential minor modifications.
Whilst this company so far has not produced cars on the volume of its competitors Eastern Car Company and National Steel Car, there is every reason to believe they will remain a factor in the Canadian railway car building industry.
This company's exploits in the field of locomotive construction are well known. It commenced business in 1904 as the Locomotive and Machine Company of Montreal Limited under a Canadian promotional group. However, later in the same year control was acquired by the American Locomotive Company. The name was changed to its present title in 1908.
The last steam locomotive was produced in 1949 and the plant then commenced to manufacture diesel-electric locomotives, securing considerably less than half of the total available Canadian business in this field during the complete conversion of Canadian railways from steam to diesel power in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
As is well known, this conversion was rapid, and when it came to an end, the available market for further locomotive sales in Canada in any respectable volume could be said to have become virtually non-existent for at least the next ensuing twenty years.
The problem of what to do with the plant at once became pressing, and efforts were made to diversify as quickly as possible. One field in which it was felt that diversification might be effectual was in railway car production.
The firm thereupon launched itself into this activity in a spectacular way by taking an important Toronto subway car order. It subsequently has engaged in freight car production to a limited extent, and shows every sign of becoming a permanent factor in the Canadian railway car building field.
This company is the Canadian subsidiary of the Electro-Motive Division of the General Motors Corporation at La Grange, Illinois, the largest builders of diesel-electric locomotives in the United States.
Its Canadian plant at London, Ontario was opened in 1948, in time for the company to capture the largest part of diesel-electric locomotive business in Canada during the great conversion period ending for practical purposes about ten years later.
At the conclusion of this period, the same situation faced this company which has already been described at Montreal Locomotive Works. Nothing but the very occasional export order for locomotives was left and many of these had various unsatisfactory features as regards payment.
An effort as diversification is now underway at this almost new plant, and at this writing the outcome is still somewhat in doubt. Some effort has been made to secure diesel-electric locomotive rebuilding business, but indications are that the owning railways intend to do most of this in their own shops.
New product production is now being extensively investigated. Among other products than locomotives produced at this plant have been a large group of steam generator cars for the Canadian National, and a dozen or so portable electric generating plants mounted in railway cars for use in the far north or other areas where power is not available.
No effort has so far been made to convert this plant into a general freight car building facility.
Procor's great competitor in Canada is the Canadian General Transit Company of Montreal, a concern in which the Canadian Car Company and the General American Transportation Corporation have equal interests.
This business was established in 1932 with a nucleus of cars acquired from the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways, plus a great many others which already were on Canadian leases from the General American fleet.
The Canadian Car Company built any additions required in the fleet as time went on, and about three years ago the tank car maintenance facilities of this company were moved from the Turcot plant of Canadian Car Company to a new exclusive Canadian General Transit location at Riviere des Prairies, near Montreal.
Tanks for cars of this company are now fabricated by Davie Shipbuilding Limited, Lauzon, Levis, Quebec.
About three years ago this company acquired the entire tank car fleet of the British-American Oil Company Limited, Toronto, one of the last large Canadian tank car fleets in private hands.
Tank car leasing is a very specialized business, and is one in which railway companies traditionally have not wished to concern themselves. The chief reason for this is that tank cars, whilst looking all alike to the casual observer, actually are supplied in a wide number of varieties depending upon the nature of the products to be carried.
It would be uneconomic for railway companies to furnish large numbers of special purpose cars such as these, as the revenues they would earn from them would make the return on their investment very low.
From the early years of this century therefore, ownership of most of the country's tank cars was vested in the shippers. Increasingly however, the principle of leasing tank cars from a central owning and maintenance organization has gained ground, until today only a few small fleets remain in the hands of owner-shippers.
This compilation © 2011 by Ian Cranstone