F.W. Fearman Packing Company Limited

Frederick William Fearman, ca. 1891Location: 1877-1962, Rebecca Street near Ferguson Avenue, Hamilton, Ontario; 1962-present, Appleby Line, Burlington, Ontario

Frederick William Fearman established a produce agent on Hughson Street, Hamilton, Ontario, in 1857. A couple of years later, he moved to MacNab Street North, where he sold salted and smoked meats along with the produce. The meats became so popular that Fearman established a meat-packing operation, known as F.W. Fearman Company (F.W.F), in 1877. The plant was located on Rebecca Street, near the Grand Trunk Railway, and eventually took up nearly the entire city block. The main products of the company were fresh and packaged (i.e. wrapped or canned) pork, beef, veal, and lamb, cheese, butter, and rendered lard. F.W.F. pioneered the use of cold storage of meat products. When Frederick Fearman retired, he was succeeded by his sons Frank, Robert, and Chester. F.W.F., Hamilton's first meat-packing industry, would remain under family control for over 50 years. An F.W. Fearman advertisement from 1890The company's products were marketed across Canada, and also shipped to foreign markets such as those in Great Britain, France, the West Indies, and the United States. The official incorporation of F.W. Fearman Company Limited occurred in 1898.

In April, 1920, due to unexpected business conditions over the previous six years, F.W.F. closed down and immediately reorganized. Six years later it was taken over by Duke Investment Company of Montreal Quebec, although there was no change in management or personnel. The Fearman family ceased active participation in the company in 1932, and in 1934 F.W.F. was bought by partners William Barrowman and H.J. Donohue.

The company purchased the Mary Miles canning business in 1941, and ten years later, control of the company was bought by Letchworth Bacon Company of England. There was still no change in the organization of the company.

Mary Miles logoIn 1960, F.W.F. began the construction of a new plant on Appleby Line in Burlington, Ontario, just south of the Queen Elizabeth Way. The company had been in possession of the property since 1955, when plans to expand had been discussed extensively. The new facility was officially opened on April 25, 1962, and the next month the Rebecca Street plant in Hamilton was torn down. The same year, the company was one of the first meat-packing industries in the world to automate its hog-buying operations. Salesmen, instead of travelling to farms to comparison-shop, would look up hog prices on a teletype machine, respond to the farm whose price he wanted to pay, and drive up to the farm to pick up the animals.Citizenship and Immigration Minister Ellen Fairclough cuts a ribbon made of wieners for the official opening of F.W. Fearman Company's Burlington, Ontario, plant (April 25, 1962)

In 1964, Letchworth Bacon Company sold F.W.F. to Farmers' Allied Meat Enterprises Co-operative.

In April, 1981, the management of the company was fined $1,500 for releasing offensive odours into the atmosphere. Homeowners who lived near the factory complained about the smell of rendering fat and smoked bacon. Arguments about the smells emanating from the packing plant persist to this day.

F.W.F. was bought by Maple Leaf Foods of Toronto in 1992, and remains one of its divisions. The old Rebecca Street plant is now a block of apartment buildings.





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