Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We used to make things in this country. #121: Sawyer & Massey Company Limited, Hamilton, Ontario

This implement is on display in front of the Roads Department building of South Frontenac Township:

Sawyer & Masset Co. Ltd., Hamilton Ontario

According to the information on Steam Era and other sources, the Sawyer-Massey Company was founded in 1835 in Hamilton, Ontario by John Fisher, a New Yorker.  The following year, he made the first threshing machine to be manufactured in Canada.  He brought in his doctor cousin as a partner, and the firm became known as C. McQuesten & Company, and also the Hamilton Agricultural Works.  In the early 1840's, three Sawyer brothers who were nephews of McQuesten as well as expert machinists, joined the firm.  After John Fisher passed away in 1856, the company name was changed to L.D. Sawyer & Co.  They continued to manufacture agricultural implements, as well as to act as a Canadian distributor for American-made machines.  In 1887, as the "good roads movement" gathered momentum in North America, they ventured into horse-drawn road machinery, as well as becoming agents for Aveling and Porter steam road rollers.  Road graders at that time were referred to as road "Maintainers."  The Masseys purchased a 40 percent interest in the firm in 1889, and the company was reorganized as the Sawyer & Massey Co. Ltd.  It began to specialize in steam traction engines, becoming one of the leading Canadian manufacturers of these machines.   In 1910, the Massey interests unsuccessfully pressured the firm to pursue gasoline engines, so the Masseys withdrew, and the new company became Sawyer-Massey Co. Ltd.  

 In 1922, the company left the tractor business completely to focus on road building machinery, as they were unable to compete in the tractor price war that was being waged at that time between Fordson and International Harvester.  The company went on to build the first Motor Grader in Canada, the "One Man Power Maintainer." It had hand controls, and 8 foot blade, 39" wide scarifier, and for power, your choice of a Fordson fitted with Trackson tracks, a Cletrac model K Crawler tractor, or a McCormick Deering tractor fitted with hard rubber tires.  Following the Second World War, the company amalgamated with the Hamilton Bridge Company.

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