Thursday, September 11, 2014

We used to make things in this country. #166: Wanzer Manufacturing Company, Hamilton, Ontario

William Kilbourn.  The Making of the Nation.  The Canadian Centennial Publishing Co. Ltd, 1965; McClelland & Stewart Ltd., Revised Edition, 1973.
Born in Ithaca, New York, Richard Mott Wanzer was destined to become the pioneer of Canadian sewing machines.  Manufacturers in the United States were embroilled in bitter and destructive mutual law suits over patents, so Wanzer moved to Canada where American patents were not recognized. In 1859, he established a factory in Hamilton, Ontario, manufacturing essentially American Singer and Wilson machines with some changes and improvements.  His factory prospered, and within a few years was turning out 2000 sewing machines a week.  Wanzer won numerous prestitious awards in Europe, built a state of the art factory in Hamilton, and in the process became wealthy and influential. However, the great recession of the 1880's undid it all, and in 1890 the factory closed it doors, throwing over 800 employees out of work.  Wanzer himself ended up bankrupt and moving back to New York state.

The above history was summarized from Alex Askaroff's fascinating article, Wanzer Sewing Machines, which I highly recommend.

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