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.