Saturday, September 28, 2013

We used to make things in this country. #125: Eagle Foundry, Montreal, Quebec

Canada Year Book 1988.  120th Anniversary.  Published by authority of the Minister of Supply and Services, 1987.

John Dod Ward founded the Eagle Foundry in Montreal in 1819 to build steamboat engines.  Eventually, his two brothers, Lebbeus and Samuel joined him.  In 1838, George Brush became a one-third partner.  That same year, the Royal Navy commissioned the company to build the Sydenham, which proved to be the fastest steamboat in the fleet.  Seven years later, Brush had bought out the brothers and taken sole control of the company.  Brush was joined by his son in the enterprise, and the cheap hydraulic power provided by the Lachine Canal enabled the foundry to turn out “steam engines, steam boilers, hoisting engines, steam pumps, circular saw mills, bark mills, shingle mills, ore crushers, mill gearing, shafting, hangers and pullies, hand and power hoists for warehouses,” among other products.  By the early 1880's, the company was employing 60 to 100 skilled workmen, and selling products cumulatively worth between £70,000 to £100,000 annually.  Eventually, shipbuilding was dominated by fewer firms, and the Eagle Foundry turned to making parts for the railway companies, until these companies began making such items in-house.

For more detailed information on the fascinating history of the manufacture of marine engines in Canada and the Eagle Foundry's part in it, visit the Maritime History of the Great Lakes.

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