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The Rise And Fall of Gilson Manufacturing Company Ltd.

Bonnie Durtnall 0 526 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.

W C Wood Strike 1959

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W.C Wood’ is best known as a manufacturer of freezers. It relocated from Toronto in 1941, setting up shop on Woolwich Street. During WWII, Wood’s produced parts for aircraft and tails for bombs. After the war, the company went back to manufacturing freezers, adding portable units as well as coolers.

 

The company moved to Arthur Street in 1955, taking over the old Taylor-Forbes Plant. Between 1955 and 1967, they produced bulk milk coolers and bottle cappers as well as freezers. In addition, using designs of the old T-F Company, they produced wood clamps, clothesline pulleys, barn and home ventilators and oat rollers. On April 3, 1959, one of Guelph's most vicious strikes began. It was to drag on almost a year.

Under The Big Top: The Circus In Guelph

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In 19th century, one source of entertainment was the Circus. When it came to town, offices and businesses closed so everyone could at least watch the parade through the centre of town. This was free, making it affordable to even the poorest in town. In Guelph, working, middle and upper classes alike went to see exotic animals, unusual inventions and strange people. 

Guelph's first circus came to town around 1849. One of the most famous circus of this Golden Age, Barnum's, arrived first by road in 1852 and later in 1874 by train. Train allowed circuses to move more freely. It also made it possible for those who lived around Guelph to quickly make their way to town.

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Chemical Companies: Spills And Takeovers But No Thrills

Guelph had become known for its piano and sewing machine companies, foundries, woollen mills and hardware manufacturers during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its textiles and clothing companies also made their presence felt. However, Guelph also entered into the less commonly touted chemical industry with E.C. McFarland. 

This was the only chemical company located in the downtown core. Fielding Chemical chose to establish its business somewhat outside – on Perth and Norwich, while Hart Chemicals moved into premises on Victoria Road.

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H. A. Clemens Planing Company

Guelph had several planing and lumber mills in the late 18th and early 19th century. These included the Guelph Lumber Company, Knight's and Robert Stewart's.  Among the lesser known companies was H. A. Clemens Planing Mill. It started off as the Electric Planing Mill in 1894. It was then owned and operated jointly by Herbert Clemens and Louis Wideman. In around 1898, Clemens became sole owner. He operated his company until it went into assignment in 1910.

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