E. D. Smith & Sons, Limited

Location: Winona, Ontario

Ernest D'Israeli SmithThe Canadian segment of the Smith heritage began in 1787 when Silas Smith came to southern Ontario from New Jersey. He was a given a deed for 600 acres of land (400 on the mountain and 200 below it) just east of what would eventually become Winona. It was there that he raised his family.

In 1853, Ernest D'Israeli Smith, great-grandson of Silas, was born. Originally studying to become an engineer, failing eyesight forced Ernest into becoming a farmer. Though his father farmed grains and vegetables, Ernest soon discovered that there was little profit to be had with those crops. Instead, in 1858 he began planting raspberries, blackberries, currants, and gooseberries on five acres of the mountain property that belonged to the family. Based on this initial experience Ernest moved into fruit farming on a larger scale, purchasing 85 acres below the escarpment and adding grapes, apples, and cherries to his list.

Frustrated with shippers who took part of his profit, in 1882 Ernest began transportation of his own fruit directly to wholesalers. This marked the beginning of the company which carries Ernest's name. Demand soon surpassed his own supply and he began buying and shipping other farmers' fruit as well.

E.D. Smith LogoIn 1889 E.D. Smith & Sons Limited (E.D.) started Helderleigh Nurseries, which concentrated on fruit tree and bush cultivation for other Niagara Peninsula farmers. However, orders soon came from across Canada for the quality shrubbery which the company provided.

Up to this point, E.D. had not been an actual industry. However, this would change in 1903 when surplus fruit had gone unsold for successive seasons. Ernest decided to make use of the excess produce by making jam. By taking raw materials and processing them into a product, E.D. as an industry was born. The first pure jam to be produced in Canada, it was originally made in the basement of the E.D. fruit house. However due to its success, a factory was built in 1905 for full scale jam production. Five years later, E.D. expanded its facilities to include tomato purée and ketchup.

Armand (standing, left) and Ernest (with foot on cart)In 1914, Ernest sent his eldest son, Armand, to England to establish a factory to help satisfy the overwhelming demand for jam. However, World War I was soon declared and an embargo was placed on food leaving Britain. Almost immediately after Armand had produced his first batch of jam, he had to close down the factory and return home. During the 1920's Leon (Ernest's other son) took responsibility for the development of the agricultural program. The depression which soon followed reduced demand for fruit, therefore Armand compensated by increasing sales of tomato purée to export markets. This led to contact with H.P. Sauce Limited (a food processing company from Britain) which eventually formed into a business relationship. E.D. began selling H.P. products in Canada. By 1942, World War II had greatly reduced commercial transatlantic shipping. This caused H.P. to choose E.D. as a Canadian manufacturer for its products. Six years later, H.P. acquired Lea & Perrins Limited, giving E.D. the Canadian rights to manufacture their famous Worcestershire Sauce.

Cans of Jam Being Filled by HandAt the end of World War II, the return of soldiers to Canada along with an increased flow of immigrants caused a dramatic increase in the demand for processed food products. The extra funds gained because of this allowed for the E.D. plant to expand its operations.

In 1948, Ernest died. Besides building up a successful business from scratch, during his life he had represented Wentworth County for ten years and was later called to the Canadian Senate.

Jam Boilers Circa 1910In 1956, E. Llewellyn G. Smith succeeded his father Armand as president of E.D. During E. Llewellyn's reign expansion continued. New, more efficient manufacturing techniques were introduced allowing for new products such as Garden Cocktail vegetable juice and a diet product line. In 1968 E.D. recognized the potential for growth that the food service industry had. This led to the purchase of Ware Foods Limited, an old Hamilton-based food processing company which made products for the restaurant trade.

Another acquisition was made in 1976 with the purchase of McLarens Foods Limited of Hamilton. This company produced pickles, olives, peanut butter, and maraschino cherries among other things. In 1981 E.D. consolidated its manufacturing and distribution operations, closing the McLarens plant in Hamilton. More restructuring was needed in order to compete with bigger Canadian corporations however. In 1985 E.D. released new products with a redesigned logo and a seal of quality on each in an effort to win over more customers. The company had diversified so much over the past ten years that by 1986 jam, a staple product initially, had become one of its lowest sellers. It was also during this year that the Prosperity Plan was introduced to reward employees for suggestions that saved the company money.

Llewellyn Smith Holding a Bottle of Garden CocktailBy 1989 the company could no longer financially support its wide product range and decided to focus on sauces and fruit products. This meant selling its Garden Cocktail vegetable juice to Cadbury Schweppes Canada Incorporated even though that product was its strongest seller. However, in 1991 E.D. bought the Canadian jam, marmalade, and syrup business of Campbell Soup Company Limited and the following year it began making sauces for President's Choice.

In 1993 the company spent almost $4 million to retrofit a recently purchased plant in Mississippi, helping to boost their production by 25% and putting them in a good position to face the future.

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