|Canadian Homes, June 1961|
The Kaufman story begins with the Imperial Steel and Wire Company of Collingwood, a large manufacturer of nails and fasteners. A fire partially destroyed their factory in 1919, but the company never recovered and closed in 1925. During World War II, the factory became home to the Clyde Aircraft Manufacturing Company, which employed 500 workers to make parts for the Mosquito bomber. At the conclusion of the war, the Ontario government collaborated with the British Board of Trade to establish Globe Plywood Limited. Under the control of A.R. Kaufman, this company made pre-fab plywood furniture, shipped to Britain to help replace furniture lost during the German bombing. When this contract was completed in 1948, the company became Kaufman Furniture, turning to the North American market. James Leithead designed a distinctly Canadian-style of furniture, beginning with "The Talisman" line. Originally, birch wood was the material of choice, but this was succeeded by the better-selling walnut. By the late 1940's, almost 200 people were employed in the factory which was run by William Kaufman, a third-generation businessman who also served as a flying Instructor during World War II. Kaufman Furniture was only part of the empire, which included the Kaufman Rubber Company (later renamed Kaufman Footwear). The factory's enormous smokestack was a Collingwood landmark.