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Biltmore Hats: Part III

The 1970s: The Beginning of the End

Bonnie Durtnall 0 131 Article rating: No rating
In 1917, Fried Grill Hats arrived in Guelph. Their owners, John Fried and Mr. Grills had previously operated out of Niagara Falls and Toronto. By 1919, the company had settled in premises located at 154 Suffolk Street. Thirty hands were at work producing various types of hats. A year later, they sold the business at the price of $45,000 to be paid over 6 years. This was the beginning of one of Guelph's longest operating companies - Biltmore Hats.  It was not to close until  2011.

Biltmore Hats: Part II

Biltmore Hats from the 1930s into the 1970s

Bonnie Durtnall 0 116 Article rating: No rating
In 1917, Fried Grill Hats arrived in Guelph. Their owners, John Fried and Mr. Grills had previously operated out of Niagara Falls and Toronto. By 1919, the company had settled in premises located at 154 Suffolk Street. Thirty hands were at work producing various types of hats. A year later, they sold the business at the price of $45,000 to be paid over 6 years. This was the beginning of one of Guelph's longest operating companies - Biltmore Hats.  It was not to close until  2011.

Biltmore Hats: A Major Part of Guelph's Industrial History: Part 1

Bonnie Durtnall 0 148 Article rating: No rating

In 1917, Fried Grill Hats arrived in Guelph. Their owners, John Fried and Mr. Grills had previously operated out of Niagara Falls and Toronto. By 1919, the company had settled in premises located at 154 Suffolk Street. Thirty hands were at work producing various types of hats. A year later, they sold the business at the price of $45,000 to be paid over 6 years. This was the beginning of one of Guelph's longest operating companies - Biltmore Hats.  It was not to close until  2011.

Keeping In Tune: The Bell Organ and Piano Company

Bonnie Durtnall 0 163 Article rating: No rating

Bell Organ and piano were once one of the largest employers in Guelph. Founded in 1864, they remained a viable concern until they were finally closed in 1934. In fact, Bell pianos were found in parlours around the world. Queen Victoria was the proud owner of one of their models. The employees suffered a variety of blade-related accidents common to factories where machinery was not guarded. This lead to the formation of the Piano Workers' Union in 1902 - the first of its kind in Canada. 

The Rise And Fall of Gilson Manufacturing Company Ltd.

Bonnie Durtnall 0 291 Article rating: No rating

Townhouses are being built on the land at 249 York Road between Morris and Huron Streets. Beyond the tracks that subdivides the land is a parking lot. This property was once home to the Gilson Manufacturing Co. From 1906 to 1977, the plant produced a variety of items beginning with gas engines and ending up with a full line of washers and freezers. During its long life, it went from being a minor Canadian subsidiary of an American Firm - the Gilson Manufacturing Co. of Port Washington, Wisconsin, launched in 1850 by Theodore Gilson, to being a nationally recognized Canadian owned and operated company.

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Sole Work: Guelph Boot And Shoe Manufacturers: Part 1

Originally, the making of boots and shoes was a craft requiring great skill and training. Like blacksmiths shoemakers had to go through an apprentice system. Shoemakers cut and stitched the leather - usually obtained from a tannery,  in their shops often their homes or an attached small shed/shop. A basic wooden form, called a last, helped to mould the shoe or boot into the proper shape.

Everyone in town would have known where to find a shoe or boot maker. In 1851, a directory lists around 8 boot/shoe makers in Guelph. In 1867, the number had grown to at least 24. This number of independent boot and shoemakers was to shrink as technology reduced the need for their skills.

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Sole Work: Guelph Boot And Shoe Manufacturers: Part 2

Originally, the making of boots and shoes was a craft requiring great skill and training. Like blacksmiths shoemakers had to go through an apprentice system. Shoemakers cut and stitched the leather - usually obtained from a tannery,  in their shops often their homes or an attached small shed/shop. A basic wooden form, called a last, helped to mould the shoe or boot into the proper shape.

Everyone in town would have known where to find a shoe or boot maker. In 1851, a directory lists around 8 boot/shoe makers in Guelph. In 1867, the number had grown to at least 24. This number of independent boot and shoemakers was to shrink as technology reduced the need for their skills.

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Federal Wire And Cable: Wiring the World: Part I

In 1919, Live Wire, a branch of an American company, moved into the basement of a building on Metcalfe (Huron) Street at that point housing Partridge Rubber. The founder, John Godfrey Smith, hired 6 employees to begin with. Their product was insulated wires and cables.

Here, they were to remain growing their product base and slowly increasing the number of employees. By 1926, they had doubled their staff. A year later, with John Kennedy as company president, they had changed their name. Live Wire was now to be known as Federal Wire and Cable . 

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Federal Wire and Cable: Wiring the World Part II

In 1919, Live Wire, a branch of an American company, moved into the basement of a building on Metcalfe Street at that point housing Partridge Rubber. The founder, John Godfrey Smith, hired 6 employees to begin with. Their product was insulated wires and cables.

Here, they were to remain growing their product base and slowly increasing the number of employees. After several years, they relocated to Dublin street north, renting the space from Guelph Carriage Top. By 1926, they had doubled their staff. A year later, with John Kennedy as company president, they had changed their name. Live Wire was now to be known as Federal Wire and Cable -although the name did not legally change until October 21, 1929.

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Brewing Beer In Guelph: Early Breweries

Beer and ale were important to early and even later settlers. Many innkeepers produced it on site – small batches of a select brew they could sell in their hotels/inns. Later, brewers produced product to be consumed and sold to local businesses, including taverns and hotels. These were often small cottage industries.

Guelph had several breweries. The most celebrated of these were Sleeman’s and Holiday’s.  However, these two well-known companies were not the first or the only breweries producing beer and liquor to slake the thirst of Guelphites. Before their arrival, four men and their breweries played prominent roles in providing beer and ale for locals. Two: Hodgert and Harland, were also responsible for giving Guelph's future brewers both the skills they required and/or the facilities they needed to make their own brewing ventures successful ones.

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Making a Clean Sweep: Guelph's Broom Making Industry

Brooms were an essential tool for Guelph’s housewives. Shopkeepers, hotel operators and other service and retail personnel also needed them to sweep floors, the sidewalks in front of their shops and for general cleaning purposes. Unless they could afford to import them from elsewhere, Guelphites purchased and used locally-made brooms.  From its founding in 1827, Guelph provided employment for several small shops during the 1800s. Most were small cottage industries. Like boot and shoe makers, those who worked in this trade tended to work out of their homes.

In the same fashion as many crafts and trades, technology was to negatively impact these small operations. Indeed, the arrival of broom factories was to reduce the need for many of the independent shops. Later, with improved transportation and shipping, the favour was returned as local broom factories succumbed to cheaper imported brooms.

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Making Furniture In Guelph: The Burr Brothers

In 1872, Burr and Skinner operated a furniture factory in a newly constructed 2-storey building on the north side of Oxford. With a workforce of between They manufactured a variety of furniture including bed frames. The business did well, expanding in size b in 1880, 1882 and 1886. 

The company mainly relied on an Ontario market but produced fine furniture that found buyers from Halifax to Vancouver. Burr Brothers Furniture Company remained active until 1901. It was then bought by a conglomerate - Canadian Furniture Manufacturing, Ltd. They remained in Guelph until 1911 when they closed the factory.

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Burrow Brothers Royal Carpet

The Royal Carpet Factory operated in Guelph in a few locations starting off with 15 employees in a shop at the corner of Gordon and Essex Streets. At least two Burrows were involved at this time: Alvin and Harry. The company relocated later that year to part of Allan’s Mill. However, the factory location best remembered was at the corner of Norfolk and Paisley where Market Fresh currently stands.

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