Made In Brockville

This is a virtual version of a permanent display in the museum’s Carriage Hall gallery.

By the mid-twentieth century Brockville was a booming little metropolis with local factories producing an astonishing array of products. Brockville was well-positioned for the post-war boom, situated on the St. Lawrence River, close to the United States, and between the major centres of Toronto and Montreal. Both home-grown independent companies and large-scale American companies prospered in Brockville for many years.

​Since the 1960s many of the once prominent and more well-known factories have closed; companies have consolidated, moved operations, or simply saw too great a reduction in demand for their products to sustain the business.

​But industry is still thriving in Brockville. Though not the industrial hub it may once have been, many Brockville residents continue to be employed in local manufacturing facilities and those businesses continue to contribute to our community.

​This is just a sample of some of the companies that have manufactured their products in Brockville over the years. Brockville has also been home to manufacturers of carriages, automobiles, fabric softener, and many other things. (Click on images to expand)

James Smart Manufacturing Co.

In the early 1860s, James Smart started the Brockville Novelty Works. In 1876, brothers John M. and Robert Gill joined the company and the firm was reorganized under the name of James Smart & Co., eventually becoming part of Canada Foundries and Forgings (though the name Smarts was kept due to its reputation). The plant continued to be used until 1965.

The land that once housed the extensive factory is now Hardy and Centennial Parks.

Wright's Chocolates

Wright’s store dates back to 1874 and was located at 60 King Street W. During the early twentieth century chocolates and candies were manufactured there under the name Wright and Kyle, but in 1940, it became known simply as Kyle’s. The confectionery store closed in 1970.

Abbott, Grant & Co. Biscuits

Abbott, Grant & Co. Ltd was a biscuit and confectionery producer located at 40 Church Street. The company was established in 1882 as Abbott, Grant & Buell, when the owners took over Starr, Gill & Co. (which dated back to 1837) after a devastating fire at that factory. The company became known as Abbott, Grant & Co. Ltd. in 1906. In 1914 they employed about 50 people. Around 1924 Walker’s Bread Ltd. took over Abbott, Grant & Co. Ltd. producing cookies and soda crackers.

George T. Fulford & Co.

In addition to the infamous “Pink Pills”, George T. Fulford & Co. manufactured the well-known Baby’s Own Tablets, upon which a whole line of children’s medicine was eventually developed. Fulford kept his business headquartered in Brockville, even though his products were selling globally. After his death in 1905, the company’s head office moved to Toronto.

Cowan's Dairy

During the 19th and early 20th century the dairy industry was booming in Brockville. Local dairies, like Cowan’s (among others) were producing and selling fresh milk, cheese and ice cream to Brockville residents.

Today, Cowan’s Dairy operates as a retail storefront on Park Street selling milkshakes and ice cream cakes.

Wolthausen Hat Corporation

In 1902 the Union Hat Works of St. Johns, Quebec opened a new hat manufacturing factory in Brockville, located between Park and Hamilton Streets.

Two years later, the factory was sold to the Wolthausen Hat Corporation. The Wolthausen Hat Corporation produced hats in Brockville until the death of its founder in 1933.

D.H. Burrell & Co

American firm, D.H. Burrell & Co had a manufacturing plant in Brockville between c1905 and c1934. The factory was located at the south-west corner of Water and Henry Streets.

D.H. Burrell & Co was the manufacturer of “The Simplex” Link Blade Cream Separators, among a number of other machines designed for the dairy industry. The Link Blade for centrifugal cream separators was at one point considered the most efficient device for cream separators. This one was made in Brockville.

St. Lawrence Engine Co.

The St. Lawrence Engine Company was founded in 1905 by H.W. Going. The company manufactured two-cycle engines on St. Andrew Street in Brockville for the next 70 years. By the mid-1940s, two-cycle engines made at the St. Lawrence Engine Company were being shipped all over the world. In the 1980s the company ceased manufacturing and the business was sold to Dave Muir who successfully sold boats and outboard motors for a number of years before the property was sold and demolished.

Phillips Cables

In 1922 the Eugene F. Phillips Electrical Works factory opened in Brockville manufacturing copper rod and wire. Over the next fifty years the factory located at 550 King Street West would expand and diversify its products several times. In 1964 the company became known as Phillips Cables Limited. At its peak, the factory employed over 1,000 people. The Brockville plant closed in 1996 and the site was demolished in 2008.

Automatic Electric

For over sixty years telephones or their modern components were made in Brockville. Starting in 1936, Automatic Electric used the Eugene F. Philips Electrical Works (of which it was part owner) to produce Strowger/Automatic Electric telephones. By 1954, Automatic Electric had opened its own facility on Strowger Boulevard in Brockville’s north end, making the Strowger Switch.


Brockville’s early soda cracker manufacturers included Abbott & Grant, but in 1924 they sold their independent business on Church Street to Walker’s. Walker’s produced cookies and soda crackers and for many years had a booming business. In 1951 the company was sold to General Bakeries, but products continued to be produced under the Walker’s brand. The Brockville plant was closed in 1974 and the factory demolished a year later.

Hex Baits & Johnson Lures

In 1930, Hector MacLean started manufacturing fishing lures in his basement, he called his product “Hec’s Baits”. He soon changed the name the Hex Baits. In the late 1950s, he sold his enterprise to Robert Johnson, and the product name changed to Johnson Lures. In 1966 Johnson Lures opened a location on Parkedale Ave.

Guardian Fire Manufacturing Limited

By the mid-1930s Brock Machinists and Welders were manufacturing “Guardian” fire extinguishers in a plant located at Brock and William Streets. The Brock Street manufacturer was known as the Brockville Fire Extinguisher Co. by the late-1940s and as Guardian Manufacturing Limited from 1951 until it closed in the late 60s. As early as 1936 fire extinguishers made in Brockville were being shipped as far away as Halifax and Vancouver.

John B. Stetson Company (Canada) Limited

The John B. Stetson Company purchased the Wolthausen Hat factory in 1935, making Brockville the first city outside of Philadelphia to manufacture Stetson hats. The John B. Stetson Company (Canada) Limited plant in Brockville made a variety of hats including hats for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The factory closed in 1970.

Orient Hosiery

It was headline news when in 1948 Orient Hosiery announced the construction of a manufacturing plant to be located on Brockville’s northern limits on Highway 29. It opened in 1949 to great fanfare. Orient Hosiery made women’s nylons. By 1955, however, there were already reports that the plant had been sold and would soon be closed. After the closure of Orient Hosiery, Black & Decker moved into the building.

Parke, Davis & Co.

Parke Davis & Company, a historic Detroit-based pharmaceutical company dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, moved its Canadian pharmaceutical operation from Walkerville (part of present-day Windsor) to Brockville in 1956. Parkedale Avenue in Brockville’s north-end was named for the Parke Davis & Co. factory built there. Parke Davis was sold to Warner-Lambert in 1971. In the mid-1990s Trillium Health Care Products purchased the factory site.

Black & Decker

Black & Decker expanded into Brockville in 1957, taking over the former Orient Hosiery plant on Central Ave. The Brockville factory became the national headquarters for the Canadian branch of Black & Decker. By 1972 there were 635 employees; in 1980, that number expanded to over 1,100. In 1998, however, the Brockville plant lost its manufacturing business and approximately 300 jobs. It closed in 2012.

Automatic Electric (Part Two: Microtel, Nortel, Brock Tel, and SCI Systems)

In 1979, Automatic Electric was acquired by Microtel. In 1990, Brockville’s Microtel operations were sold to Nortel. Known as Brock Tel, the Brockville Nortel plant principally made the GTD-5 digital switch.

In 1999 Nortel sold Brock Tel to SCI Systems Inc., which was in turn sold to Sanmina Corp in 2001.

The Brockville plant was closed in 2002.

Ketchum Manufacturing

Ketchum Manufacturing Inc. opened its Brockville factory in 2005 after relocating from Ottawa. It produces an array of identification tags for the livestock and mining industry, as well as for the military. Ketchum Manufacturing Inc. also produces custom plastic printing for the hotel, retail, and grocery industries.

Ketchum Manufacturing Inc. is still in operation on California Ave.