Monday, August 6, 2012

We used to make things in this country. #73: W.H. Dunne Skate Co., Toronto Ontario

Several years ago, I picked up a nice pair of spring clamps at a church garage sale:



As can be seen from the stamped information, they were "Handy Clamps" made by the W.H. Dunne Skate Company of Toronto.  I can't find much information on the company.  They appear in the City of Toronto Directory in 1896, and a January 1908 ad in Rod and Gun reads

"THE DUNNE Diamond Tube Skate

The skate of Quality, Elegance and Durability — proved by test of past twelve years. Fully guaranteed.

W. H. DUNNE FACTORY : 1492 Queen St. W., Toronto. Canada"

Someone has posted a photo of workers at the Dunne Skate factory, year unknown:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chavis1/1644207861/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Update, May 2021; Various people has asked about the Dunne skateboard, I'd like to thank Tim for sending these images of his Sur-fer.





26 comments:

Glenn Dunne said...

That's my grandfather second from the left.taken at the factory on Macdonnell st. in Toronto. I can't remember when the picture was taken but IM sure it's prior to 1955. Dunnes were at one time the largest skate makers in North America. Almost all NHL players wore Dunnes skates.they had an Ad in the first program at maple leaf gardens and lots of stuff in the hockey hall of game.

Glenn Dunne said...

So what is a handy clamp? Some of my cousin and I have collected many ice skates and roller skates but what was a handy clamp. Looks like a took for the work bench and not for skating. Thanks for posting. Want to sell it.

The Duke said...

Thanks for contributing to the information on this company. The clamps are definitely for bench work. They really are handy, so I'm not ready to part with them yet.

Unknown said...

To my understanding, the clamp was designed by my Grandfather Cecil Dunne. He also patented the first plastic blade holders. I have many of them including the prototypes. In the picture to the far right in the back is my Great Uncle Bill Dunne and the tall man on the right is my Great Grandfather Thomas Valentine. I believe the man kneeling down in front is Herb Charlton.

Anonymous said...

Hello don,t no if you care or not but I have a surf king skateboard made by WH Dunne skate company it has roller derby clay wheels and is 22 inches long looks to be oak the writing is red kind of cool going to sell it at Christies antique show in May. I hope it helps with another item made here.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,
Your skateboard...did it sell and how much if you don't mind me asking!?

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. My grandmother (Kaye Charlton - married Kaye Broughton) was Herb's sister. I heard about the skate manufacturing company. However, my mother said they were reluctant to modernize and were still using foot-powered lathes in the 1940's. Not sure how accurate this info was. My mother recalled always having very good skates when she went to the rink, though she wasn't much of a skater.

Padre Jud said...

I still wear a pair of Dunne Lake Placid skates, that I've had since the early 1970s. I get some strange looks at the ice rink here in Buffalo!

Bill Tee said...

William Hamilton Dunne [W. H. Dunne] was the bro to my maternal grandfather, George Mackie Dunne. As well as making Handy Clamps, as a side line, they made skate wheeled scooters of which I had one. My mother's bro Bill Dunne took over the
manufacturing of handy clamps after the factory closed and I still have a number of them after selling a bunch for my uncle. Ultimately the manufacturing rights were taken over by Herb Charleton's company, Dominion Skates, in Brampton after Bill's death. I do not think that any were manufactured by them to the best of my knowledge. I did spend some time working at the Macdonell Ave site while going to school.

Bill Tee

Margaret Schroeder said...

My stepfather was Bill Dunne (W. H. Dunne), the nephew of the original W. H. Dunne. We still have some items from the skate company including very old photographs. In the photo, my stepfather Bill Dunne is the 3rd from the left, standing at the back, and with dark hair. He continued making the Handy Clamps for years after the skate co. closed.

Padre Jud said...

Fascinating.

Those skates were built to last! I wonder how many other people are still wearing skates they got over 45 years ago...


Steve said...

My Grandfather Herb Charlton kneeling front right. Dominion Skate was a central part of our lives with everyone in the family working there. I grew up working in the skate plant, first on Mavis road in Mississauga and then on Railroad Street in Brampton as well as Berlin New Hampshire. I was using handy clamps from Dominion Skate yesterday!

Steve said...

The Dunne's and Charlton's were family. My Grandfather worked for his uncle Dunne, not sure which one. When he passed away the company was taken over by my grandfather's aunt. For whatever reason they didn't get along so he went out and started Dominion Skate in 1946. At the same time, My grandfather promoted an ice capades style event that featured his cousin Johnny Dunne, a champion speed skater.

Mister G said...

Thanks for the information, we're putting together quite a history here.

Anonymous said...

Good evening. I have a SUR-FER skateboard marked N0. 10. Metal wheels and trucks. All rivets. Now I know a lot more as to where this skateboard began its life. Cool.

Mister G said...

Thanks for the note. I don't know if I've ever seen one! Could you send a jpg to gerald@vanwyngaarden.ca and I'll add it to the post!

Glenn Dunne said...

I have a picture of my uncle johnny on a pair of tandem ice skates,one pair of skates for two skaters. They are dressed for an ice capade style show.I have never known the partner on the skates with him. Perhaps it your grandfather?

Glenn Dunne said...

I also heard stories of my uncle Johnnie skating in the ice capade shows on stilts.he would have long pants and and a top hat on.he would skate around the arena touching the rafters. He was also a champion barrel jumper.

Unknown said...

Glenn Dunne, I have a poster I had framed that I received through family , it is a promotion for the ice capades and there is a picture of Johnnie Dunne on stilt skates.

Mister G said...

Update; Sur-fer skateboard pictures added!

Unknown said...

I have been collecting Canadian skateboards from the 60's for over 20 years now and I never even knew this brand existed. Thanks for sharing those pics and history lesson. Now I'm on a mission to track one down for my collection.

dorseyondigital said...

Hello, I am an owner of a loft home in the building a 243 Macdonell that was converted into 6 loft units in 1986. We'd love to see more photos of the building from the W.H. Dunne years and any other information pertaining to the building. The building was originally built in 1909 for an American sports equipment company. I expect W.H.Dunne took over from them. At one time during WW1- it was a bronze boundary making memorial plaques for soldiers that had died in the war. stephen@dorseystudios.ca. Ty!!

dofford@primus.ca said...

My father, Gordon Offord worked at Dunne's Skate Co. in the 1940's.
He was without sight.
When he got married in 1950, he moved to Napanee, ON.
He brought a lot of roller skates and I remember he had a pair of speed skates.
How I come to this site was I was updating a genealogy page about my dad and mentioned places he had worked. Coming here, I found out I needed to add an e to the name, Dunne.
Thanks for the information on this site.

Dale Offord

Steve said...

I also have a poster, will have to grab a picture

Mister G said...

I love the stories, keep 'em coming! Thanks, all!

Tim said...

Well I feel somebody should post a photo of something. Anything at all.