Thursday, February 26, 2015
We used to make things in this country. #177: Fisher-Price Canada, Orangeville, Ontario
Above, a 1960's-vintage "Tip Toe Turtle" pull-toy manufactured by Fisher-Price when they had a factory in Orangeville. Safety was stressed on the box: "For safety, no bead is provided on the pull string. For easier pull toy play by the very young, we suggest a knot or loop tied at the end of the string." "All colors absolutely safe, conform to American Standard Z66.1-1964 for use on surfaces which might be chewed by children."
Founded in 1930 in East Aurora, New York, the American parent company was bought by Quaker Oats in 1969 when one of the founders, Herman Fisher, retired. In 1991, the company became independent but this didn't last because it was purchased by Mattel in 1993. At some point, production moved in part to Mexico and China. (Today, 80 percent of U.S. toys are imported from China. In 2007, Fisher-Price had to recall a number of its Chinese-made toys because lead paint was discovered to have been used on them. Then, in 2010, they recalled more than 11 million tricycles, toys and high chairs over safety concerns. Not quite what the founders had in mind, methinks.) I can't find when the Canadian side of the firm began or ended, but it's certainly gone now.
This particular toy tip-toed into my life as a result of an complimentary email I sent to Michelle Hauser, who writes a humorous column which is carried in a local paper as well as in the Kingston Whig-Standard and The Globe and Mail. I'm not in the habit of sending such emails (in fact, it's the first time I've ever done so), but her writing was just so darn funny! (You can find her work online on her own website.) After a few weeks of exchanging emails, we eventually met up for a coffee in Napanee. She told me about finding Tip-Toe Turtle in some stuff that was being cleaned out of her husband's family's house. I expressed an interest in getting some photos for my blog, and was delighted to learn that her husband wanted the toy to go to a good home, and I was it! It's now in my house, and follows me everywhere I go.