Tuesday, March 10, 2015

We used to make things in this country. #181: Weir Wardrobe Company, Mount Forest, Ontario

Views of Mount Forest
The Weir Wardrobe Company was founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba by Rod Weir.  The company made sectional dust-proof cases for use in stores and homes, selling to firms like the T. Eaton Company, the Hudson's Bay Company, Holt & Renfrew & Caisley & Company.  Apparently, the company won some prizes for its furniture design at the New York World's Fair in 1853.  (In spite of this, I can't find a single online image of anything this company made. However, below are two images of a wardrobe with a patent date of 1903 owned by a visitor and now reunited with the building it originally graced--see comment below.  Lovely quarter-sawn oak!  Thanks for sharing this!)

 In 1900, the head office was relocated to Mount Forest, Ontario  to take advantage of growing trade in eastern Canada. (At the same time, the company purchased a factory in Mason City, Iowa.)  In Mount Forest, the Emil F. Zoellner Furniture Factory was purchased for $35,000, and plans were to employ 60 workers full-time.  For some reason, the company failed to weather changes in the industry brought on by the First World War and the factory was bought in 1924 by Superior Converters, which made overalls. It burned to the ground in 1966.

Workers at Superior Converters.  From Homer.  Mount Forest Magazine.  Number One, 1994.
Update, July 2018, A reader sends in pictures of her wardrobe, complete with the five of the original eight hangers on the pull out rail. What a great piece of furniture.


Catherine said...

I just purchased a beautiful cabinet made by the Weir Furniture Company. I own a business in Boissevain Manitoba where this cabinet, and about a dozen like it, were used in the first business in my building, built in 1898. It housed suits and accessories, and although the outside had been painted and then stripped at some time in it's life, the inside is original. The Wier company label, which has a patent date of July 14th 1903, is still on the pullout that hung the suits. I can send you the pics of it if you are interested.


The Duke said...

I'd love that pic to add to the post! Please send it to bishrip@gmail.com. Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

I was doing some genealogical research and you just answered a puzzle. My great-great-grandfather was Emil Frederick Robert Zoellner, and sold his business before moving to Prince Albert Saskatchewan with his sons, where they opened a new furniture business. Now I know what happened to the original business! We still have some of the furniture he made.

Mister G said...

Great to hear! Thanks for the comment.