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Sole Work: Guelph Boot And Shoe Manufacturers: Part 2

Bonnie Durtnall 0 980 Article rating: No rating

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.

Sole Work: Guelph Boot And Shoe Manufacturers: Part 1

Bonnie Durtnall 0 1014 Article rating: No rating

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.

Blacksmiths: The Most Important Tradesmen in Town Part 2

The Decline of the Blacksmith

Bonnie Durtnall 0 1142 Article rating: No rating

When Master Blacksmith John Owen Lynch (1793-1860) arrived from New York in Guelph in 1827, he was facing a considerable challenge. This was a pioneer community. As the only blacksmith, he was expected to help John Galt fulfill his plans to create a thriving community in this wilderness.

There is no doubt that the blacksmith was an extremely important individual in any early settlement. He was the proverbial and indispensable jack-of-all-trades. However, as technology developed and urbanization increased, his role decreased substantially.

Blacksmiths: The Most Important Craftsmen in Town Part I

Bonnie Durtnall 0 1009 Article rating: No rating

When Master Blacksmith John Owen Lynch (1793-1860) arrived from New York in Guelph in 1827, he was facing a considerable challenge. This was a pioneer community. As the only blacksmith, he was expected to help John Galt fulfill his plans to create a thriving community in this wilderness.

There is no doubt that the blacksmith was an extremely important individual in any early settlement. He was the proverbial and indispensable jack-of-all-trades. While farmers took care of their own tools to an extent, it was the blacksmith who was educated in making and repairing these same tools to a higher standard.

Biltmore Hats: Post-War Production to 2011

From the War to the End

Bonnie Durtnall 0 1275 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. The company survived the Great Depression and moved optimistically into the Post-War era.  The 1960s and early 1970s were rough, but by the end, Biltmore had found new markets. Yet, as the century ground to an end, Biltmore was once again experiencing troubles. Although it tried, it was not able to make it. It was closed for good in 2011.
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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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