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Guelph's Other Hat Companies: Fried-Grills and Jochimeck Drone

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When hats are mentioned in Guelph, everyone thinks about Biltmore Hats Inc. While the position of this company and its products is important, it was not the sole producer of hats in this city. Two other companies made this product in Guelph; both have connections to Biltmore. They were Fried-Grills Hats - the predecessor to Biltmore Hats and the Jochimeck-Drone Hat Company.

No Relief From Relief: The Great Depression In Guelph

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During the last few years of the 1920s, Guelphites were beginning to feel quite optimistic. After the post-war slump, the economy was turning around. Companies were hiring and workers were regaining much of what they had lost. Then, on October 29, 1929, came the crash plunging employers and employees alike into a new economic reality.

One year later, 400,000 Canadians were out of work. Wages were cut and those employed had to live on less pay. Businesses retrenched and the labour movement was brought to a temporary standstill. All levels of Government, attempted to curtail the downward spiral. They instituted various Relief Programs, including Relief Camps, Relief Settlements, Relief Gangs and Relief distribution. Truly, during the 1930s, there was no relief from Relief.

Picnics In The 1920s And 1930s

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Picnics have always been a very popular form of entertainment and celebration for company employees and unions. In the 1920s and 1930s, these affairs were no longer the grand parades they had been in the 1800s and early 1900s. During the 1920s and 1930s, picnics were often excursions out of the city by train or the employees made their way to two popular picnic sites: Exhibition Park and Riverside Park.

WOODYATT: Before Taylor-Forbes

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The partnership of AR Woodyatt and Charles Auld was formed in 1887/88  when they took over Guelph Enterprise Ltd. The company was located in Nelson Crescent where Market Fresh is today. By 1892, Charles Auld decided to leave the company. It soon became known as Woodyatt & Company. In either incarnation, this factory manufactured sad irons as well as household and farm goods e.g., hog tongs, egg beaters, apple peelers, hand measures. Under the leadership of Woodyatt, the company began to expand its line of goods and products and soon would be looking for larger premises.

In 1898, Woodyatt moved his shop to larger premises. He could easily expand his rapidly growing company. Unfortunately, his death in 1901, halted his ambitions. However, a newly formed company, Taylor-Forbes, took over the premises and, building on Woodyatt's foundation, created one of the country's most successful harware manufactories. 

Northern Rubber: From Footwear Manufacturer To Condos

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Northern Rubber opened shop in a newly constructed five-storey factory on the corner of Metcalfe (Huron) and Alice Streets in April 1920 with 60 employees. Work on the building had actually started in 1919 as part of a plan by American-via-Quebec entrepreneur, FE Partridge who owned and successfully ran Partridge Rubber Company in Guelph, to expand his tire company into all aspects of rubber production. However, Northern Rubber was to be a separate entity.
«June 2022»

Libby, McNeill and Libby: Guelph's Other Pickle Factory

When people in Guelph talk about the “Pickle Factory,” they are referring to the Matthews-Wells factory - once located at Victoria and York. It opened in 1938 and closed in 1968. This was where many young men and women had their first job – often as summer employment.

However, Matthews-Wells was not Guelph’s first “pickle factory. Over two decades before, in 1914, Libby, McNeill and Libby founded in Chicago by Archibald McNeill, Arthur Libby and his brother Charles in 1868 made Guelph its Canadian headquarters.

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The Pipe Mill in the Ward: The Page-Hersey Tube Company

In 1889, an American, Randolph Hersey (1829-1918) founded Page & Hersey Company in Montreal in partnership with E. N. and G. H. Page. It operated out of a then idle tube mill owned by J. C. Hodgson. Located along the Lachine Canal, under Hersey, the tube mill began to prosper. Then Hodgson threw a wrench into the system. When the lease ended, he sold the property to the Montreal Rolling Mills. Hersey and his partners responded by deciding to move the plant halfway across the country to Guelph, Ontario. It was to remain in operation there for close to 50 years.

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